Fireplace Part 2: The Process

To call this a “makeover” feels misleading. This little project was so tiny, it’s more of a mini facelift than a full makeover. None the less, it’s completion brings me joy. I hope you were able to read Part 1 last night, where I shared the after photos of this wall with a holiday twist. Tonight is all about the process, something seemingly simple turned out to be a real mind boggle for me.

Here is the before, which I also posted yesterday:


The “before” was taken many months ago, before any work on the living room had begun. Hi Peppa. The spaces to the left and right of the fireplace have recently been addressed, but to wrap that entire wall up, I needed to finish the fireplace space. If you missed the post about the left side, click here. Or here, to see the right side desk nook.

My concerns:

Concern #1: Wall + Fireplace Mantle Color

The wood frame/mantle is traditional in shape and style. The shape didn’t bother me, but the white color did. To modernize a traditional shape, and help the entire living room feel more cohesive, I painted the frame high gloss “Tanglewood” by Behr . The same exact color we used on the desk nook, and living room doors. “Tanglewood” is a mix of gray and beige, with historical undertones, and a light and airy feel. Paired with white walls, the color feels very substantial, and helps to add warmth to stark white.

Tan walls had to go. We painted the fireplace walls the same bright white as the rest of the living room. As with the other areas we painted white, it instantly felt bright, clean, and modern. image



Concern #2: Technology stuff on top of the mantle was bothersome.

The permanent speakers prevented any mantle decorations from happening, which kind of made me sad. When working on our “technology nook” Mike fixed it to where the speakers would no longer need to be on the mantle.


Super cluttered above, verses less cluttered below. Because the TV is so large, it only allows about 10 inches of “decorating space” on the mantle. SO, I won’t actually ever be able to fully decorate and style the mantle, but hey, at least those annoying black boxes are gone. Plus, I kind of love watching big TV more than I love decorating a mantle. Less technology mantle clutter:


Concern #3: The fireplace works, but is unused.

Apparently fireplaces are a major source of controversy. Those who do not have a fireplace become highly annoyed at those who do have fireplaces but don’t appreciate them. Ahem, me. The fireplace wasn’t really a selling point for us for this house, it just happened to be there. I have no sentimental attachment to fires, I get no warm fuzzy feelings about them, I like literally do not care at all about a fireplace.

After three years, and never once attempting or caring to turn on this fireplace, I decided we could make it more kid friendly. The gas knob felt like a hazard with kids as they can turn and play with it. From time to time, Ari suddenly becomes intrigued by the metal fireplace curtains, which always leads to him placing a toy inside the fireplace, and then soot on his little fingers.

Solution: Unhook the gas, clean the inside of the fireplace of soot dust and faux gas wood, remove the fireplace curtains, and fill with something else. This isn’t permanent, so when we go to sell our house, we can have this fireplace back to normal in under an hour.


I did a lot of research, and found that I was really drawn to the look of stacked wood. It felt fireplace-y enough, and filled the dark hole, and provided a non working fireplace with some visual interest. It’s purely decorative, like no, we do not have a fire burning in the backyard where we need to run in and gather our freshly chopped wood. I wish.


Concern #4: The boring builder grade tiles. Sigh.

This is where I have huge dreams, but due to budget, can’t really tackle them right now. Ideally, I would find or make beautiful ceramic pattered Moroccan tiles full of grays, blacks, whites, and creams. I decided to come up with other ideas that were way more budget friendly. Like $15 solutions.

My first idea was to build an arched wood piece that I would then glue on top of the marble.



My second idea was to just paint the marble black. My third idea, was to paint faux tiles on top of the marble. I went back and forth for days and days with these two ideas. In the meantime, I had to prep the marble for being painted. First I sanded it, then I put a coat of chalk board paint on top with a scratchy paint brush.


I decided to take the risk, I was going to paint faux tiles on the surround. First I came up with a pattern:

imageThen, I traced the pattern onto the surround. On the back of my “stencil” is chalk, so I just outlined my pattern, and the chalk transferred onto the fireplace surround, making it easy for me to paint.



Well, after about a foot of stenciling, I started to hate it. I didn’t want to hate it, but it just looked so cheap and crafty. I felt that with hard work, I could kind of fix that, but something was telling me to just give up. I could have made the stencils feel more like tiles, by making faux grout and square tile shapes. I was tired, and done. No more stenciling, I decided to paint the surround all black.


I decided on “Carbon” by Behr (the top swatch you see). I should have mentioned this earlier, but please excuse the crappy quality of these photos taken with my iphone usually at night.


fireplace 1

I’m so happy that I opted for the simple fireplace solution, it made my life much easier, and looks great too. The total cost was around $30. I did end up buying three bags of treated wood at Home Depot opposed to using wood from a backyard wood pile. The reason for that was um spiders, moisture, and faded color. I would never buy wood if I would actually be burning it, but I went for it in this situation. The black paint sample was less than $5, and the wall paint + mantle paint were leftovers from other living room projects.

detail 5

The completion of my fireplace now means that that entire wall is finished. What a relief! I’ll be leaving the other living room concerns un-addressed for several weeks, and putting all my focus on the nursery and deep cleaning the house. I am slightly considering a bathroom makeover (for the one attached to our living room), chalk full of high gloss black grid wall paneling, brass fixtures, and a hand painted animal wallpaper. But like, I just don’t know, and I think I’m going crazy.


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