DIY Faux Fireplace {How I Built Our Fireplace}

I am super excited to be writing this post because building our faux fireplace is one of the DIY projects I am most proud of. It has taken me almost a year to complete the whole project but the end result is phenomenal and has added so much to our main living space.

If you’ve ventured over to our “Before Tour” you may have seen these photos taken the day we moved in.

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Obviously the main living space is a little long and narrow like a bowling alley and even though it is a larger space there really is no focal point at all. This section of wall between the french doors and the hallway seemed to be a focal wall and I had put up a gallery wall after we moved in but that still didn’t seem like quite enough. Browsing Pinterest for inspiration I found this really pretty fireplace…

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Beautiful amIright? It’s totally my style too, I think it’s pretty style neutral and could mesh with a modern style, cottage or something more traditional. So naturally my next thought was “yeah, I’m just going to build a faux fireplace, no big deal”. I also need to note that this was 3 days prior to the Annual Christmas Home Tour where some 300 people would being arriving to tour my home…..and this wall is the first thing someone sees when they walk in my front door….moving on….

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I used painters tape to mark the area where I wanted to start building the base of my fireplace and I used my Dremel to cut the quarter round and remove it from this area.

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I used 2×4’s for the frame and attached the back “legs” to the wall (this is why the quarter round was removed) then I constructed the frame around the legs.

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I then measured ( using painters tape… why? Because I’m horrible at math, hate numbers and unless it’s a round measurement I refuse to use a tape measure) and cut the board that acts as our hearth. The hearth piece is a really high quality piece of oak plywood that I had left over from a previous project. You can’t tell from the picture but I used construction adhesive and screws to attach the plywood to the base.

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Then I built the frame of the fireplace body, using painter’s tape again,as you can see. The outer body of the fireplace is not heavy at all, collectively the shell weighs less than 10lbs so my frame didn’t have to be super hardcore. It is very sturdy though and there is no knocking this guy over.

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Next I attached the shell of the fireplace using construction adhesive and super tiny nails, these were the dark ages when I didn’t own an air compressor and brad nailer. The material is called kraft board, it’s sold at Home Depot although I could not find it on their website. It cost less than 10$ and it was about an 8’x6′ board. It is like a super-super thin MDF and it’s very light weight (It’s the same material that is used in the back of children’s play kitchens, workbenches and in the bottom of IKEA drawers) so It was really easy for me to handle by myself and cut exactly how I wanted. I was even able to shape it with my Dremel after I attached it to the frame.

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Next, I stained the “hearth” and glued my trim onto the body of the fireplace. I tacked some of the larger pieces of trim with finishing nails but most of the smaller pieces are just held in place with construction adhesive.

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The next step was for me to attach the mantle. I bought a white wood board that was the depth of the fireplace and cut it to the length of the fireplace to be the top of the mantle. I sat the board on top of the fireplace and screwed it directly into the top of the frame. I then used 4in white wood trim cut to the specs of the fireplace and nailed it to the sides of the top board lining up the top edges of the mantle board and the trim to give the appearance that the mantle is one thick piece of wood. I filled holes, sanded and stained the mantle.

So this was about the point in the project where things got super hectic and I just needed to get this fireplace looking decent and I stopped taking pictures at almost every step. I used leftover kraft board from the shell of the fireplace and made the interior box of the fireplace and attached it to the frame and the back wall of the fireplace (you can see this below). Above you can see that there is a 2×4 trim on the sides and top of where the interior box should be, I built that into the frame and it is inset from the shell of the fireplace so that I could tile the 2×4’s to make a tiled fireplace surround like you would see on an actual fireplace. I used Carrera marble hex tiles to tile the surround. I bought the Carrera hex tiles on ebay, I found 6- 1’x1′ sheets for $8 a piece which I found to be pretty cheap comparatively.

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I didn’t quite have time to finish all the details before the Christmas Home Tour so I painted the inside box of the fireplace Valspar’s Comet Dust.

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Then I put the project off for 9 months and I just recently decided that I should actually finish some things that I start! Ha! Imagine that!

I used Carrera subway tiles to tile the inside of the box. I decided to go with the method where you butt the tiles up against each other so that their are hardly any grout lines visible. I really think the tile turned out so beautifully, I am so happy with the way it looks!

I also used my brad nailer (woohoo! So much faster) to attach 1″ trim around the hearth board to give it a chunkier look, love that.

You’ll notice in the above picture that I haven’t painted the trim around the base of the fireplace or added quarter round, we are planning to strip and refinish our floors so I am waiting to finish that mess before I add any detail work around the base of the fireplace that I’d just have to re-do.

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The wall above the fireplace was definitely lacking that special something and I really wanted to add something like this…

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Lately I’ve been super obsessed with the HGTV show Fixer Upper and pretty much everything the Gaines’ do. One of their signature features is the use of shiplap in their remodeling  projects. Shiplap is the wide wooden planks that you can find under the walls in some really old houses. I love it! We don’t have shiplap but with a few planks of thin underlayment plywood that were headed for the garbage I created the plank wall effect that they so often put above the fireplaces that they build.

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I nailed the planks up on the wall using my brad nailer, trimmed the area with some 1/2″ trim I found in my garage ( I know right?! I love living in a house where the former owner was a carpentry buff!) and painted the planks and trim Valspar’s Ultra Pure White to match the faux fireplace.

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I love the texture that the planks give to the wall and it really makes our fireplace look so grand. it’s perfectly imperfect and that is the best part!

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I’m so totally in love with what the fireplace does for our former bowling alley of a living room.

Though we will never be able to have a fire in the faux fireplace, it totally cozies up our space and that makes us happy 🙂

Linking Up At: Bigger Than The Three Of Us, Love Grows Wild, Kansas Woman Bloggers, DIY Show Off, Just A Girl and Her Blog, The Blissful Bee, Maison de Pax, Design Dining Diapers, Craft Dictator, Love Of family and Home.

41 thoughts on “DIY Faux Fireplace {How I Built Our Fireplace}

    1. Hi Tania, thanks for stopping by! I haven’t thought about the electric logs, thank you for the suggestion!

  1. You did a beautiful job! I instantly thought of how it reminded me of one I saw on Fixer Upper. 🙂 We did one very similar but put a door on the firebox so that we would still have access to the outlet on the wall behind. But we have a ginormous TV on our plank wall (that I despise). I’m jealous you get to hang a mirror on yours and have fun with the decor. Incredible DIY! Do you remember what the grand total in cost was by any chance?

    1. Great thinking with the outlet door! Thankfully our space was smack dab in the middle of two outlets, we got lucky I guess! I think in total the project ended up being about $105, but we already had the ply for the hearth, planks and trim for the wall over the fireplace, mortar, grout, paint and stain on hand. The tiles were the biggest expense being over half the entire project cost. It was worth it though!

  2. You did such an amazing job with your faux fireplace! I love the dark wood and the paneled look on the fireplace base. Even the marble inside and the added “ship lap” above looks incredible. I love Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines is amazing.

    1. I was totally excited about a mantle! Having never had one I’m so thrilled, I think they are just wonderful for seasonal decor! Thank you for stopping by.

      1. Do you have any plans for design? I know you said you hate numbers, but if I wanted to make I’m wondering how many 2×4, trim, size of top and planked wall. I love that tile, but I may try stacking logs tightly for cottage eme, but I think I still have bucks of tile a neighbor took down so perfectly and clean I would cut and paint them. Anyway, as for sizes or wood, trim plus top, and planked area plus a complete finishes measurement would be helpful and less time consuming. Use of faux batten too is a thought, but not sure. By they way itwis stunning to say the least, but why did it take a year or was it just because of your house tour and other stuff?

        1. Hi Gina, I’ve actually gotten this question quite a bit.I plan to draw up some schematics on how to build a faux fireplace soon and I’ll post a link in response to this comment. The project can be done quite quickly, I just kept getting interrupted! I built the main part of the fireplace before our christmas home tour, but then we traveled a bit for Christmas. My husband was also deployed at the time and when we came home from traveling for Christmas my husband only had a few months until he returned home, so I decided to finish up the reno on our bathroom/bedroom. I didn’t finally get around to tiling the fireplace insert until after my husband returned home and went back to work.

  3. Hi Holly!
    I’m currently working on my DIY faux fireplace and honestly wouldn’t have been able to even start without your gorgeous project and amazing DIY tutorial! 🙂 I have a quick question for you – did you have to cut your tile at all? If so, what did you use to cut it? I’m currently looking at some tile that will need to be cut, and am not sure how to go about doing this. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for the amazing inspiration!! 🙂

    1. Gianna, you are so sweet for saying that! I did cut my tile- the hex tiles around the opening of my fireplace and the subway tile inside. For little tiles like the hex tiles I used what are called “nippers” I got mine at Lowes and I used a tile saw for the subway tiles and i purchased that at Home Depot , it was on sale when I bought it and about half off but I’ve had the saw for a year and it’s definitely worth the full price.
      I hope that helps Gianna, thanks for reading!

  4. Could you pleaseeeee provide the dimensions?

    My wife is dying for a faux fireplace in our master bedroom.

    Do you mind helping a loving husband get some brownie points?

    1. Hi Bryan,
      The main “body” of my fireplace is 61″ wide, 14″ deep and 47″ tall. The inset section of the fireplace (within the main body) is 26″ wide, 33.5″ tall and is 13.5″ deep ( after tile, 14″ before). The base of the fire place has two parts, the support that sits directly on the floor and the “hearth”; The support is 63 1/4″ wide, 4″ tall and 16.5″ deep. The hearth is 66″ wide and 19.5″ deep ( This is the measurements after I added 1″x2″ trim around the “hearth” board. The mantle sits directly on top of the body of the fireplace and measures 62.5″ wide, 15″ deep and 3.5″ tall.
      I hope that helps!

  5. I love, love, love this!!! It’s so very beautiful, and it just inspired me to do something similar in my master bedroom. I love the tile you picked out. I’m very curious about the inside of the fireplace. Did you frame off the top of the inside box since it is faux, or did you just let it remain open as if it were a real fireplace? Can’t wait to read more posts, and I’m so glad I found your blog!

    1. Hi Kelly! I’m so glad you found my blog too 🙂
      I chose to leave the the top of the inside box open at the time that I built the project. I have given so much thought to this very topic and I have decided that I will be attaching a very light “roof” for the box and tiling it to make one seamless tile box.
      Thank you for stopping by my blog and for commenting!

  6. I would buy one of those heaters that look like a fireplace. I bought one from Amazon and it was 189. I run it all day instead of my central heat. Saves me Money. Great look Congrats.

  7. Holly, it turned out so beautiful. Your choice in the Carrara Tiles and the Shiplap behind the mantal are the perfect finishing touches. Beautiful job ( :

  8. That turned out really nice! You can have a fire in it with gel fuel logs & gel fuel cans. I use them in a fireplace ( you don’t need a chimney) and I have an indoor firepit in my sun room with gel fuel. It crackles like a real fire if you didn’t want to do that different height candles look nice too

    1. I’m not familiar with gel fuel, but I wouldnt recommend putting anything with real fire in the fireplace. We did battery powered candles of all different heights and they looked really nice.

  9. Hello,
    I was wondering if you have the step by step directions including all the measurements ?
    Thank you

  10. Fall of 2016 I found your post on your faux fireplace and knew I had to have one. I am in a one bedroom apartment 740 square feet so I designed the fireplace to fit on an 8-foot wall with a tall bookshelf on one side and a desk on the other side. Your directions were easy enough to follow with my experience and woodworking. My Tompkins designed fireplace has added A Touch of Elegance to my apartment and I am so pleased to have found your site. Thank you very much…

  11. This looks amazing! I would love to do something like this in a couple of bedrooms. How much did this project put you at?

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