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What do you do with an outdated-looking fireplace, that has crazy proportions, for around eighty bucks?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

  2. 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! :)

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. danielle says

    PLEASE tell me how you painted over your knotty pine walls. they look beautiful!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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! :)

  14. 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 :)

  15. Sandy says

    Love the fireplace! Any suggestions for what to do with a raised hearth? Thanks!

  16. Angela says

    if you change all your decorations seasonally, what do you do with last seasons stuff?

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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???

  23. 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?

  24. 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! :-(

  25. 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!