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.