A Fireplace Remodel

When we moved into our home, it wasn’t the most beautiful.  The openness and basic bones were great, the views were incredible and all the space was sublime.  However, the builder had a thing for beige everything, orangey hardwood floors (still something I want to change), ugly formica countertops trimmed in wood, and hideous light fixtures.  The dishwasher and stove were white and the refrigerator was stainless steel.  We’ve literally painted every room in the house except the laundry room (coming soon!), installed many new light fixtures, installed beautiful black granite countertops and a new dishwasher and stove in stainless steel, built an in-ground pool, and did many other improvements, but nothing was quite like the two fireplace remodels my talented husband did.

The first fireplace we tackled was the see-through fireplace in our large master bedroom.  It also opens to the master bath so we can soak in the jacuzzi by firelight (nice!).  We love it in winter and it does a lot to heat up the space and spice up the romance.  But it was sorely lacking both in looks and balance in that huge room.  Here’s what it looked like when we first saw the house (before we moved in, during the home inspection process):

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Please note that these photos were taken with my old camera and they aren’t good, but you’ll get the project.

This fireplace was great to have and a nice feature I was in love with, but I hated the brass and the tile and the dinky mantle.  I also wanted a hearth; something I could actually sit on if I wanted to, and certainly a place to house some nice decorations for the room.  Speaking of balance, the room has enough space for a bed area with bedside tables (pictured), a living area that houses a full-size sofa, end tables, two chairs, and a coffee table, and then another space large enough to house my old home office.  I have a large credenza and full size executive desk in there!  When I say the room is large, I can safely say it’s larger than most efficiency apartments.  The master closet sealed the deal for me when we bought…it’s huge!

Finally, after nine years, my husband set about building me the fireplace of my dreams.  All I told him was that I wanted a) a large mantle I could put things on, b) a bigger look that would truly make it a focal point and balance it in the large room, c) cottage style…white framed in boxes with some nice moldings, d) a hearth I could sit on, and e) plugs on the top of the mantle so I could put Christmas lights on it without cords stringing down the wall.

The first order of business was to demo the existing fireplace.  Ed took the glass piece off by unsnapping it and removing it.  He then set about removing the tiles with a small pry-bar by inserting it as far as he could behind the tiles, tapping it with a hammer, then prying them loose.  He also removed the existing hearth and moldings with this same method.  Here’s a photo of the stripped fireplace before he completely removed the hearth box.

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Because we had awful carpeting at the time (since replaced with new flooring), he had to cut it to fit snug to the new hearth.  He framed the hearth box with 2×4’s and used 1/2 inch plywood to create the box using these measurements:  86 inches long, with 15″ deep sides.  He attached it to the floor with nails, using his nail gun.

Once the hearth was secured, he created the top using a 3/4 inch MDF panel (you can purchase it here) cut in these dimensions: 16″ deep by 88″ long. Fireplace makeover bedroom-46

Once the hearth was completed, he began to build the sides of the mantle that would flank the firebox.  He did this in the bedroom floor (that gross carpet!  It’s gone, I assure you!).   After that, Ed turned off the electricity in this area and cut a hole next to the plug at the bottom left of the fireplace in a space where the columns would cover, and fished the electric wires he would later use to create the outlets on the top of the mantle.  He spliced enough wire to add the outlets and ran it up through the box, once it was completed.

IMG_0912When the sides were completed, he created another box that would serve as the base for the mantle (see below).  This was made of 1X12’s and measured 74″ long, 12 wide and 5″ deep.    He attached this to the wall and the tops of the sides.  At this point, he had already primed the boxes and began trimming out the boxes with molding, which consisted of 1×3’s (which also had already been primed).  To install this, he first placed the longest boards, measured the length he would need for the short vertical boards and cut them to size.  For the hearth, he cut four vertical pieces and then did a little math to find the equal spacing to create this nice cottage look.  All these were simply nailed with finishing nails into place.  He did the same on the columns.  He also tiled the firebox, first taping off and protecting the actual fireplace.  This was grouted later.

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For the top of the mantle, he used a 1×12″ board, which he cut 82″ long and then nailed to the top of the upper box.  He cut 2″x 4″ holes in the sides of the top over the columns, installed the electric outlet boxes and wired those into place.  Back to the mantle:  he installed crown molding below the top piece,  mitering the corner edges.  Under this, he installed chair rail molding to give the effect of a larger crown molding, also mitering the corner edges.  After that was complete, he installed the same molding to the top box in the same way he had installed it to the hearth and columns.  IMG_0997IMG_0998

To finish the hearth, he installed a trim molding to the top edge of the hearth, then caulked like a madman, sanded where needed, and painted the entire mantle and hearth white.  He finished it off by grouting the tile with white grout.  Here’s the gorgeous finished project!IMG_0988IMG_0960

I am thrilled every single time I walk into our bedroom…something this beautiful never gets old.  It added so much character to our little sanctuary and it just fits the massive space as a properly sized, gorgeous focal point.  I was able to add a lovely arched mirror we bought during a romantic weekend on the Eastern Shore many years ago, along with candles and books (a must in any room), a silver vase we bought in a cute little antique shop during a long weekend in Lancaster, PA, and a few other special items I wanted to display.

This remodel only took one day for demolition and construction.  The priming and painting took another day, so this is a great weekend project to add to your list!

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