Fireplace Makeover

We worked on a budget-friendly fireplace makeover at Kevin’s brother’s house a few weeks ago, and we’re so happy with how it helped to update their existing brick fireplace.

We’ve been slowly helping Kerry and Robyn redo their living room over the past few months, and it has been SO MUCH FUN “sneaking” into their house while they’re at work (and school) so that we can surprise them with updates when they get home at night!

We have a few more projects to tackle before we blog about the “full reveal”, but I wanted to share the fireplace makeover project here in the meantime.

We recruited our friend, Brian the Carpenter, to help us get the fireplace makeover job done right, and we used this photo we found on Pinterest as inspiration…


Here are the steps we used to complete our project in case anyone out there would like to try something similar:

Step 1- Use screws to attach a strip of plywood down the sides of the fireplace, then create a mantel out of MDF or whatever kind of wood you’d like…

A masonry drill bit makes for easy brick drilling, so make sure you have one before you start this project.

Step 2- Attach a wood “cleat” to the front of the fireplace. We used two pieces of MDF to create ours, but again, it doesn’t matter what kind of wood you use…

Step 3- Use screws to attach your mantel to the cleat and to the wood strips running down the sides of your fireplace…

(Note: The masking tape on the edges of the mantel is just there to add extra security while the construction adhesive between the seams was drying. As you can see in the photo with Kevin in it, the pieces are held together with screws, too. Brian said the tape just makes it a little easier to move it around.)

Step 4- If your mantel hangs off the edge of your hearth like ours did, you can make it look like it’s always been there by adding a two-sided box down each “leg”…

(Note: You could also cut your mantel “legs” down to the floor from the start if you didn’t want to go back and add this part.)

Step 5- Kerry’s mantel shelf was made from a double layer of MDF (for cost and smoothness reasons), but you could also choose any type of wood for this step. I really just wanted you to see the shape of it…

Here’s what it looks like all secured to the cleat underneath it…

Step 6- Attach some strips of wood to the brick above the mantel, like this…

Make sure to counter sink your screws so that the wood you use on top of them lays flat…

Step 7- Attach your planks. We used MDF because of it’s “straight and smooth” factor, but again, you can choose any kind of wood for this step. We used a nickel between each board to make sure they were all spaced apart evenly…

Step 8- Frame out the area above the mantel shelf with a few more pieces of wood, like this…

Step 9- Begin trimming out the edges, and covering up the seams, on the mantel below the mantel shelf…

Here’s a closer look at the simple trim we used to cover the seam in the photo above…

The trim sort of came together as we went. We just added pieces here and there until it looked like it was finished…

Step 10- To finish off the mantel shelf, we secured a piece of 3″ crown molding to a couple of angled pieces of wood underneath it…

Step 11- Add crown molding to the very top edge of your fireplace so that it’s capped off nice and neat at the ceiling…

Step 12- Prime and paint.

We used Kilz primer and “Moonlight White” paint from Benjamin Moore.

Step 13- Sit down and take a break for a couple of days because your fireplace makeover is DONE!

We snuck back into Kerry and Robyn’s living room the other day to do some Fall mantel decorating, and we look forward to sharing those photos and decorating ideas during our “It’s Fall Y’all” link party series starting next week. Hope to see you there!

Fall Decorating Ideas
Adoptive Parents

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  1. says

    Pretty …. I did a similar treatment to my fireplace in the spring.

    Am I the only one? need an update on whether you got the new house?

    :-) Sharon

    • Layla says

      Hi Sharon!
      Would you believe we bid on that thing THREE times and STILL didn’t get it? :-( We bid three more times on another house and we’re waiting to find out if our “best and final” makes cut today. :-) #FingersCrossed

  2. Dawn says

    I had been looking at the “Hemnes” media system at Ikea. I found your post about the living room makeover and that sold me! We bought the wider bookshelves (35″) and the two drawer TV stand as well as the bridge between the bookcases. I spray painted the back of the bookshelves and bridge a dark gray. It looks great in our blue/creamy white family room. The system takes up most of the wall but gives the room and cozy and surprisingly uncluttered feeling. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. says

    Beautiful job. I am in love with this makeover. I seriously wanted to cover the brick in my last house but I never got around to it. If this post would have happened 2 years ago I would have gone for it. Love it!

  4. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    The fireplace re-do is simply gorgeous. What a terrific statement piece to the room. I would like to ask a question, however, and I want to preface this, with, “I AM NO EXPERT”. The little piece of wood that goes along the flooring – maybe it’s quarter-round – I don’t know. BUT, I think the whole statement would look so much more finished if this piece of wood was either painted white, like all the floor trim, or it was freshly stained. Then, the whole project would look perfect? Am I picky????? Gorgeous job! Really gorgeous. Makes me wish I had a fireplace.

    • Layla says

      Hey Ter’e! It’s actually stained to match the floor. Didn’t want it to “jump out”, so we opted for it to “go away” into the floor. 😀

  5. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    Thanks Layla!!!!
    I should have known!!!!!!! I am one of those weird women who love to clean. I LOVE IT! I even envisioned using some light scratch cover……just to make it look like “new”.
    You kids did a fabulous job!

  6. says

    Very cottage-y! And it is the sign of good teachers that you make this look “easy.” I’m sure it takes quite a bit of time and skill 😉

  7. says

    This is fabulous! I love the exposed brick…it makes it look like it’s always been that way. Kerry and Robyn must be thrilled! Thanks for sharing the process. I love it! Lisa~

  8. Maria M says

    OMG! This is exactly what I wanted to do with my fireplace. Mine looks just like the before picture. Thank you much for posting. This is my next project! :)

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Beckie! It’s been so much fun working on this project with them! 😀

  9. Brittney says

    I love this!! I have a stone fireplace, have you ever done this with stone? It’s a really uneven surface….not sure how it might look?!

  10. Kassie says

    I must be the only one that thinks this is ugly. I don’t think the white looks good AT ALL with this fireplace. I have a similiar “before” fireplace and I hate it.. but this isn’t the answer for my tastes. Wonder if anyone else has ideas?

  11. Kristen says

    I love it! Do you remember what the cost was for the wood and mdf? I am interested in doing something like this!

  12. says

    I’m normally a fan of brick, but the difference between the before and after is just wow! Love the after and well done on both vision and execution!

  13. Theresa Sea says

    We purchased our first home a year ago with a floor-to-ceiling outdated-looking fireplace, and I’ve been stalking around the internet, trying to figure out how to update it without painting over the brick. LOVE what you did here! Thanks so much for posting; it’s become my inspiration!

  14. snowmanluv says

    Thank you for posting this. I have been look for 6-9 months on how to redo the brick on my fireplace to give it more character with wood. It’s such a central part of the house and needs more to make it be a centerpiece.

  15. Mary says

    This is awesome! I’m going to copy the mantle and down (my living room walls are to high and sloped). It doesn’t look like there are any screw holes on any part of the MDF. How did you do that? Or maybe I just can’t see them?

  16. Kacy says

    Thank you so much for sharing this, gives us some really good ideas for our fireplace makeover! Yay! I really appreciate all the tiny detail shots too. you guys rock!

  17. Ramona says

    I love this! Original fireplace is just like mine and have been debating for years what to do with it to spruce it up without painting it. I do have one question. Is there a standard height (or height range) for the mantel and is that height measured from the floor or top of the hearth? My fireplace has a hearth just like the one in the pic. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Sue says

    I love this!! I have a question though. Do they still use it as a wood burning fireplace? I am looking to update mine, which looked the same as their before picture. We have removed the brass cover, thankfully.