As the title states, I’m pretty obsessed with fireplaces and a great mantle. When we look at houses, in Phoenix or otherwise, it’s probably one of the first things I notice and of course my thought process jumps to, “Will this look good at Christmas?” since that’s obviously the most important thing when buying a house. haha not so much! But still, a big selling point for me! This fireplace was my one big request from Wyatt when we were moving into the new house. The fireplace that was there was fine, but pretty lackluster. And the one I was seeing in my head (no not crazy, I’ve just got a good imagination is all) was pretty rad. And now it’s turned out better than I was even hoping for, so amazing! Of course it took waaaayyy longer than we thought it would, but it was 110% worth the wait.
So this is the fireplace before we even moved in, travertine tile partway up the wall and then plain drywall above. We had the whole house painted before move in which was amazing and gave us such a blank canvas to do what we wanted. We didn’t have to buy a ton of materials to do this project, the most expensive part was all the lumber. We started smaller scale on the wood and then ended up having to go back to Lowe’s several times to buy more. The only other big buys were plywood for behind the wood face to create an even surface, nails (I picked a big headed iron look so they’d show more on the finished product), liquid nails, a new saw blade to make smoother cuts, wood stain (we got several sample sizes and did lots of test runs in order to decide the final colors), black paint for the inside of the fireplace, black paint for the plywood, and later on we went back for a big chunk of lumber for the mantle and a couple corbels for supports. We already had the circular saw, saw horses, measuring tapes etc. so luckily all we had to actually buy were all the materials. I never added anything up but I’m pretty sure we did this for under $500 and I know we would’ve had to pay a ton more for someone else to do it even if it probably would’ve been a lot faster.
The first thing Wyatt did was paint the plywood black in the garage, paint the inside of the fireplace black, paint the travertine tile black, then put up the plywood when it had dried. And then we had a mini freakout when all of a sudden it looked like we had a black hole in our living room! But at that point can you really go back?! So on we went with me pushing for faster timing because there was no way I wanted to move in with it looking like this haha. And I have to say, Wyatt’s a saint (seriously) I never thought I’d be lucky enough to marry such a handy guy! He literally makes almost all of my DIY dreams come true since there’s no way I’d ever be able to afford to pay someone to do all of these things I come up with. This fireplace was a big stretch for him because if it turned out bad everyone would see it! It’s one of the biggest eye catchers when someone walks into the house.
The next step was seriously the most stressful and time consuming portion of the entire project, cutting and laying the wood. We used 1′ thick boards in varying widths of 2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″ and we actually laid them out on our garage floor first and I went through with a pencil to draw where I wanted the cuts to happen and then Wyatt helped get the overall design together. We did end up having to put the boards up and cut as we laid them to have almost no gapping or weird spaces and then staining after it was completely assembled which was kind of a pain, but it all worked out. The top half of our fireplace was fairly easy to get up, Wyatt just nailed each piece into the plywood underneath, the bottom half was a real bitch because we didn’t demo the tile underneath first. He actually had to go through and pre-drill holes through the tile and then nail into the those holes to get into the drywall under the tile. Super time consuming and if we did this again we probably would tear our the tile first, but we thought we would save time doing it this way (not). We literally finished getting all the boards up the night before we moved in, talk about cutting it close! And then the wall sat for about 3 weeks till we got the energy to start the staining process.
Like I said earlier, we had grabbed about 5 different sample sizes of Minwax stain and we did a ton of testing prior to committing. We tried a couple versions of gray stain but it looked too hollow on the wood we used and one color was so light it barely colored our samples. We ended up going with the Early American color for the lightest shade, Dark Walnut for the darkest shade and a mix of those two for our middle colored stain. We taped off the walls and laid plastic over everything. If you haven’t done any staining before it is a super messy process! Wyatt did the hands on staining and I stood on the other side of the room to make sure the colors ended up looking balanced and not too dark or too light in any one area. This was the quickest part of the whole thing, maybe an hour total? Some stain did end up leaking through our tape job so some paint touch ups were necessary. When we went back to get lumber for the mantle we ended up grabbing a 6″ x 8″ chunk that we were able to get cut right at Lowe’s and they also had the corbels we used in stock. I wanted the mantle to be dark so we used the Dark Walnut stain on it, let it dry, then Wyatt put it up. And that’s what it needed to look finished! As soon as a I saw the mantle up I was so happy, it looked even better than I had hoped for. Wyatt knocked it out of the park for sure on this one. And he’s been pretty happy that there aren’t any other big projects like this around the house!
So here’s the pictures start to finish with my little photo bomber dropped in there too. Harper and the puppy love to climb up on the hearth and look out the window at our neighbors horses. It’s turned into the perfect little window seat for the two of the them. I can’t wait to get working on another DIY project, I’ll just pick one that isn’t as intimidating as this one was haha. What are some projects that you’d like to do around your house? I have dreams of ripping down walls but after this I think I’ll wait awhile for that stuff!