My $82 Fireplace Makeover

What do you do with an outdated-looking fireplace, that has crazy proportions, for around eighty bucks?

Here’s what we did!

First, we bulked up our mantel by attaching wider wood to it. We used a  1”x 8” piece of plain pine lumber (that we distressed and stained dark walnut), to create a “slipcover” on top of our existing mantel…

We used screws and nails to attach it to all three sides, but here’s a shot of what it looked like after the first board was attached…

Here’s a shot that show’s it when all three pieces were attached…

Next, we removed the cast iron firebox the previous owners left us…

…and then we painted the brick around, and inside, the opening with black, heat resistant paint…

After that, we used Liquid Nails to attach pieces of wood and thin, luan plywood to the facade to create dimension…

Next, we added even more dimension by gluing on various 1×4’s, and 1/4”x4”s…

Don’t ask me what that weird pinkish spot on the back wall of our fireplace is. Every time I saw it, I thought about Wilson, from “Cast Away”…


Anywho, the next thing we did was tape off the brick so that we could caulk all the seams and paint all the wood…

Here’s how it looks today…


I’ve had fun decorating for all the other seasons, too!



Ours is a non-working fireplace, so if you’re thinking about doing this project on a working fireplace, you should check building regulations to see what’s allowed as far as adding wood and paint before you begin. Safety first!

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  1. malissa says

    love that mantel! do you have the dimensions on it? i’d like to try your idea on a flat gas fireplace…do you think it would work?

  2. says

    Love this transformation, is this a fully functioning fireplace, was everything fireproofed? My friend has asked me to transform her fireplace and I love this idea, but I’m concerned about the wood around the fireplace for when she wants to use it.

    • says

      As far as we know it’s good to go Carli! We don’t burn wood in it though, but if we ever decide to have the gas line hooked up, we’ll definitely consult with a professional about it.


      • Dawn says

        I need to clean and paint the inside of our woodburning fireplace we don’t use and I was wondering what brand of heat resistant paint you used and where you got it. Also, what product would you recommend to use to clean it before painting?

  3. Heather says

    I love the look of this and would like to do something similar. Do you worry at all about the liquid nails not being strong enough to hold the weight of that wood up? Would you have done anything differently if your brick was already painted (would the liquid nails) adhere as well?

    • says

      Hi Heather!

      The brick was actually already painted that taupe color and the luan and MDF we used are extremely light-weight, so the liquid nails has held everything up without a problem.

      Looking forward to seeing what you do!


  4. Merry says

    I am a novice in every sense of the word! What is the type of lumber and stain that you used?? Merci!

  5. Lisa says

    THIS is exactly what I’ve been envisioning for my (ugly) brick fireplace… and now you’ve shown me how to do it. (Rubbing my hands together and cackling gleefully!!) THANKS so much!!

  6. Robin Crittenden says

    I like what you have done. But what also caught my eye was that you painted the paneling. I have the exact same paneling in my home. What did you do?

  7. Nicola says

    Thank you SO much – I’m going to attempt this on my horrible grey brick fireplace this weekend! Thank you.

  8. says

    I’ve just found your blog and you truly are in inspiration. Thank you so much for that. I hope someday I will be as half as good as you are. I just really couldn’t handle myself but laugh hard on the whole Wilson thing, that was genius. And more recently the scream one. This blog is truly unique, and so is your style. Thank you for sharing such incredible work and talent.

  9. Michelle Trench says

    Just found your blog via You are so uniquely talented! I love the mantle and it has given me the inspiration to tackle my hideous fireplace :) Your before and after photos are great, I love your style! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Kellie says

    love the look of your fireplace!! I sneaked over from YHL’s shout out today. We have a beautiful ornamental fireplace that I painted a crisp white. In front of the actual opening is an ugly bronze door… I want to take it off & paint the inside as well, since we never use it… do you ever worry about drafts coming in from the outside? That is my main concern… that & if I want to ever have a gas insert put in, do you think the paint will be a bad choice? Thanks for your advice!

  11. Ayisha says

    This is Awesome, Awesome, Awesome. This is my first time visiting your blog but I too popped over thanks to the YHL shout out. All the motivation I needed to subscribe to RSS. My husband and I are looking for our first home and we have come across tons of fireplaces like these. I am officially motivated! Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Ange says

    Hey there. Popped over from YHL (although do drop in on you guys occasionally anyway!) I was wondering if there is a link to the mirrored piece on the mantel in the winter picture. I would love to DIY something like that, but I’d like a closer look? Cheers Angela.

  13. kat m says

    Hi there! I saw this on Pinterest yesterday and commented that I was going to run home after work and do this (the painting the inside black) and I did!! I went by Home Depot, picked up black paint and came home to deal with a fireplace I havent had a fire in (minus candles) for over 3 yrs. The cleaning it out was GROSS!! (ashes and cobwebs oh my) I applied the pain and WOOLAH – a crisp clean black fireplace gut! Im thinking of spraying the log holder silver and then a few peices of wood silver and white – I have so much cool mercury glass on the mantle that im afraid it might be overkill…..Ill post a pic when Im finally done! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  14. Katie K says

    I really want to do this on my fireplace and I am wondering how wide the mantle is, and how you attached it to the fireplace. I have a flatfront fireplace and there is nothing to attach it to. How did you secure it to the front of the fireplace?

    • Kathryn B says

      I was also wondering how you attached the front mantle piece…nails? But I didn’t see visible nail holes. I’m looking to tackle this project in a few weekends…can’t wait!

  15. Jenn says

    You are soooo talented – thank you for sharing with us all, on your MAGIC site! I am looking at my home with fresh eyes (at last I have hope for it’s daunting challenges, thanks to your unique creativity!) Sending you love and thanks, from South Africa!!

  16. says

    I am envious! What a transformation. Our fireplace mantle is about 4″ wide; u can’t set much on something so small. The hulkier mantle is a gr8 idea! Thanks, for the idea. it’s just what I was thinking about and now I can make it happen! Jenny

  17. Sarah Niehoff says

    I have a very difficult fireplace (and ugly)…the fireplace is set in and the bookshelves stick out…if you can imagine. We recently removed the previous homeowner’s mantle (it was awful) but don’t know what to put up…it looks nice without, but love putting things on mantles, esp for Christmas!!
    I would love to see your suggestion, and would love to send you a pic…we know we want to paint the shelves white, and the brick an accent color. So the mantle, I guess would be white…But would the mantle stick past the shelves (they aren’t very deep) or sit flush? Would it be a shelf or thicker, like yours?? Any ideas would be WONDERFUL!!
    Thank you

  18. Penny says

    I love what y’all have down with your fireplace!! I have a corner brick fireplace from the ground up! I was wondering if I did something along the lines as to what you did with the bottom half, would it be weird to have brick on top where yours is the paneling?
    Thank you!!!

  19. says

    I love this. It’s probably my favorite post in the blogging world. When the renting days of my marriage are over, I hope to have a fireplace of my own to do this too. Thanks for your inspiration! One of the reasons, I’m trying my hand at blogging.

  20. Stephanie says

    Any suggestions on how to transform a fireplace with a hearth that is actually in the middle of a room? Exactly the same on both sides and, of course, it burns wood in the actual fire box. It is really the focal point of the whole two rooms, but when I say it’s ugly, believe me, it’s U-G-L-Y…..if I implemented the ideas you have here (which are awesome and in my budget) would you do both sides exactly the same again? And would you paint the bricks on the hearth black as well? I can send you a picture if that would help….but just haven’t been sure what to do with it since we moved in….thanks….and I LOVE your blog!!!

  21. Lynn says

    Thanks for sharing this post! It is simply amazing and beyond inspirational. I am so encouraged to realize I CAN DO this project.

  22. katie says

    Hi Layla and Kevin,

    So I like the idea of the fireplace…however I have a LARGE wall in my livingroom that I have NO IDEA what to do with and I was thinking of putting in a fireplace but my husband doesn’t like the thought or cost of a fireplace. However, we do like what you have done to your fireplace and the cost.. and was wondering if you think it would look weird if we did the whole mantle fireplace idea that you have done but WITHOUT the actual fireplace?…just do a mantle looking thing to decorate throughout the months of the year?…Any ideas of how to build it?…to still have that dimension look to it?…since we have no fireplace to build onto. We woudl like to start working on it in the nest week so if you caould reply ASAP that would be wonderful!!! Thanks so much :)

  23. Maria says

    Hi Layla and Kevin,
    I love your fireplace, I have been looking on line for a solution for mine and got to your page. My fireplace is brick also but is 11 feet of brick (only the lower part of the wall). I have the TV on top. I guess I got crazy yesterday and removed the white mantel self. I am thinking that I could cover most of the brick with board and batten and I love the paneling on yours. Can I send you a picture please? I could use any advise you can give me. You should have seen my husband’s face when he came from work last night and sow the destruction.
    You are both so talented, thank you very much for the inspiration.

  24. Denise says

    Inspiring post, and great fireplace make-over! I was just curious, did you add wood to the bottom of your wide mantle lumber to complete the appearance of a thicker mantle? In other words, if you look up at the underside of the mantle, is the front 1×8 board just an overhang, or did you box in the bottom?

    Hope that’s clear. It’s surprisingly hard to describe something like that!

  25. Kristy says

    What stain did you use, and what type of wood?
    I tried a dark walnut, but it’s not as rich in color as your.

  26. Shelbi says

    I absolutely LOVE what you’ve done to your fireplace. I have one thats a full wall height and very wide red brick. I have been looking for very simple diy ideas to resurface it after my remodel.
    I am wondering if you have any helpful tips thats very similar to what you’ve done for mine. I would really appreciate some feedback! I have a picture for you but I have no idea how to link it.
    Thank you!

    • Shelbi says

      Also, I see above that someone asked the question how to attach the wood to the brick. I was wondering if you used any special type of screw or nail? I just can’t seem to imagine how it would go through the brick.

  27. Dana says

    Just wondering if anyone has tried this on a working fireplace. Is the wood okay near the heat? We have a pellet stove and our fireplace is painted brick, and we would love to try this, but the heat is my only safety concern.

  28. laura says

    Charming and so inspiring! Love the styling for each season. I think I’ve found a blog to follow!!

  29. says

    I love this transformation! For Christmas one of my presents was a gift card from Home Depot AND my hubby’s willingness to be the labor on the project of my choice…..I just handed him the iPad and this article and grinned! thanks AGAIN for the inspiration. This blog is my favorite!

  30. Susan says

    thank you for this, I have been looking at my fireplace for six years wanting to change it and after looking at what you have done, I know I can do it. and under budget. Thanks.

  31. Pam says

    What did you do about the duct work that the old firebox was attached to? Did you remove it all the way up the chimney, or just cap it somehow?

    • Layla says

      The chute seems to already be capped with metal somehow. I haven’t really stuck my head up there to look, but sometimes I can hear a few raindrops hitting it if it rains really, really hard. :-)

  32. Collette says

    I’m new to your blog and I am loving it! I have the UGLIEST fireplace ever…..picture your fireplace (before makeover) only the ugly dark red and black unpainted brick is from floor to ceiling (as in a twelve foot ceiling)! It takes up the entire wall!! I’m getting ready to repaint and do new decor. I’m wanting to go from primitive to a lighter cottage feel . Any suggestions on what to do with the elephant in the room? Because I have NO idea other than just paint it. Thanks!!

  33. Kris says

    Just wondering what color stain you used on
    the piece you attached to the mantel? Also,
    What did you to the tile? On the floor? (can’t
    think of what you call it!!!). It looks to bea different

    Fabulous transformation we are going to attempt
    it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. Karen says

    Thanks for the inspiration. My husband and I redid our ugly brick fireplace and pretty much followed your design exactly (although it took us longer than a weekend). We had to make some minor modifications as we had a hearth – but the end result was amazing!! Thanks again!

  35. Karen says

    I just wanted to add one comment as a few people have asked about the Liquid Nails and if it is strong enough to hold the wood up. It is my understanding that it is strong enough, however when we did this our issue was the bricks were not level and therefore it was hard to adhere the wood to the surface with just this product, i.e., you press one corner of the wood on the brick and hold it and the other corner pops out slightly, so I would have had to stand there holding in several pieces of wood flat while the Liquid Nails dried. To address this issue, we ended up using both Liquid Nails and special screws that go into the mortar. The combo of the two together worked well.

  36. Christine says

    What did you do on the sides? Also it looks like you put an extra piece of trim all along the middle. Is that what you did or is that just the picture?

  37. Andrea says

    Hi. We are going to try to attempt this. Will you please share… What brand and color stain did you use? Thanks.

  38. says

    I popped over to see this from At Home In The Northwest. It is a very creative solution to all of that brick. We have a fireplace like that too. :) Luckily, ours has a nice mantle, and definitely looks better painted. I REALLY like yours though!

  39. Marci Cunningham says

    What at GREAT JOB!!! LOVE IT!!!!! You two are amazingly talented and from the great state of Alabama as well!! I am actually from Eufaula, but we are pastoring in Louisiana now!! Thanks again for inspiration!

  40. says

    I love it!!! I got a GREAT deal on a fireplace from Lowe’s, it has a few dings and would be hard to match the dark stain. Trying to get up the nerve to paint it white to match my trim and look more built in….that way I could patch up the dings too. Think I will just do it. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  41. Edie says

    This is a gorgeous redo! I wish I had a fireplace needing a a face lift! Darling that throughout the project your mantel was still decorated! :)

  42. shannony says

    Love the mantle but really love the the paint color of the paneled walls against the white trim. I cannot seem to find it listed. Please tell me what it is. It’s perfect.

  43. says

    Oh my goodness! This is magnificent – and inspirational!! I’ve been staring at our fireplace for years now, trying to figure out how I wanted to update it . . . you gave me some great ideas!! Thank you for sharing!!

  44. Pam Muell says

    I just love your fireplace maleover.I am so happy I found your site and enjoy looking at all the wonderful ideas and things you have done.

  45. stacey sprecker says

    do you think it would work to apply the liquid nails to ceramic tile around my fire place? i’m thinking i could put the paneling look on the ugly tile that surrounds my fireplace.

  46. Shannon says

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have looked at tons of ways to cover my fireplace the last 6 months and finally yours will work the best for our home.

  47. Kary Ross says

    Have loved your fireplace re-do and shared with my sister. Have a question for you— She has a working fireplace that is fully bricked from floor to ceiling that she would like to either paint or cover. Do you have any other blog friends you could recommend that have bricked fireplace and mantel makeovers? Seems like I’ve seen a fireplace makeover blog sharing party on this subject but maybe it was just a mantel party. Thx for any help!

  48. Beverly says

    <> I love what youve done with this fireplace BUT scared to death to paint mine. Its a HUGE walk around fireplace with 2 separate inserts ( I guess that what you call them ). To accommodate both inserts they are on either side of this massive ” walk around brick wall “. There has never been a mantel and I’m not sure what to do. The brick goes fine with the Log Cabin.

  49. Diana says

    This looks great! As stated though, check the national fire code before doing this on a working fireplace. We had someone reface ours and had to rip it off and redo it to meet code. It’s best to know what your dealing with first, especially if you have an old, metal heat re-circulating unit. Those have special requirements, as we found out. I love the seasonal decor in the firebox.

  50. says

    Hello! Amazing makeover. I’m a bit confused though – did you put a new piece of wood on top of the mantel as well? Or just in front and on the sides…? I need to do this as our working fireplace has a very thin mantel that needs bulking up! Please let me know. Thank you.

  51. Annabelle Kopf says

    Layla and Kev, you guys are GENIUSES!!! No, seriously! Bless you both a thousand times for giving hope to all of us who have not-so-pretty fireplaces! I feel inspired! :)

  52. Suzanne says

    Wow! I’m very impressed and inspired. You guys did a beautiful job. Like you, I enjoy decorating the mantle for the seasons. We just bought an almost 100-year-old home with a not too inspiring mantle and closed off fireplace. You gave me some wondeful ideas – hope you don’t mind my plans to steal from you :)

  53. Victoria says

    Did you put anything on top of the shelf? (like the surface that your mantel decorations would sit on? Also, did you do anything to cover the gap caused by the wood overhang on the bottom? Thanks!

  54. says

    This looks AMAZING! I am so impressed, as usual. I’m trying to decide what to do about our ho-hum fireplace that still has red brick. Ours also has red tile (to match the brick) on the floor in front of the fireplace. I’m curious to know what you did about your floor–it looks like it had concrete originally? Thanks for the awesome pics!! Keep up the good work!

  55. Joanna says

    Hi Layla!

    I’m on the final steps of my own fireplace makeover using your tutorial :) question though- did you use a semi gloss paint??? That’s what I bought, but right now I’m looking at it with just the primer and having trouble envisioning it all shiny! Not sure what to do! I would appreciate your help :)

    I hope you see this comment!

    • Layla says

      Hi Joanna!

      I think I used satin finish on the fireplace makeover. We are about to redo our new fireplace and we will be using a satin finish on this one for sure. Thanks for the comment! :)

      • Joanna says

        Thank you so much!!! Can’t wait to see your new redo in the new house!

        I would love to send you photos when I’m done!

  56. Krystal says

    I am absolutely in love with this fireplace.. So much that I’m in the process of updating ours. I am having a hard time picking a crisp white for the trim, What shade and brand of white did you go with? Thank you for inspiring me!

  57. says

    Hi Layla, I have admired this fireplace since you redid it years ago. Can you tell me what you did to the side? Did you glue strips of wood and attach there as well? I am going to tackle this by myself, hope it works!

  58. Irina says

    This looks so beautiful, and unbelievable reasonable! My only question, if it is a non working fireplace, why would you use fire resistant paint painting inside???

  59. kim says

    I’ve done a similar project but don’t know what to do with the fireplace insert. What did you do with yours?

  60. Amanda says

    Hi Layla,

    What is the depth of your mantel? We are looking to implement this project on our own fireplace, we love it so much!


    • Layla says

      Hmmm, I can’t remember how deep that mantel was, Amanda. ? We moved out of that house in October of 2011. I’m sorry! :-(

  61. Kaitlin Farmer says

    Love your fireplace re-do!
    I have a very similarly placed fireplace (off-center to the right)..
    Just curious what the left side of the wall looks like? Did you do shelving? or just a cute chair?
    Having a hard time thinking of how to balance the wall.

    Thanks for your share, we will definitely be doing this project!

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