Custom Built Fireplace

You all ready for some home improvement goodness today?! I hope so, because it's coming at ya! One room in our lake house I haven't shared yet is the Great Room. We're still waiting on a couple pieces of furniture until it's fully complete, but today I thought I'd share my favorite feature of the room with you - the fireplace. I think all rooms have features that, if executed properly, become the focal point of the room and really define the space. But if ignored, those features just become a missed opportunity. Here is what the fireplace looked like originally.

I'm not sure if I'd call the original fireplace the key feature of the room...but I was determined to make it that! Completely knocking out the original fireplace and rebuilding from scratch wasn't really in the budget. And you know what they say ladies, "You gotta work with what you got!" So that's what I did.  

The first step was deciding what I wanted the end product to look like. That was the easy part. The next step was figuring out how to get our current fireplace to look like the fireplace I was envisioning. That step was a bit more challenging. We started by removing the brass fireplace screen and painting the brick gray. That's about as far as I got on my own, then I decided it was time to bring in the pros!   

We started by framing out the brick with wood. Our carpenters built a box like structure using plywood. The frame measures 11 inches on each side and six inches deep. Why 11 inches you may be thinking. You're so close to 12, why not just make it an even foot, right?! Yeah, in typical Me fashion, I didn't bother writing down the measurements when I went to get the mantle cut and had it cut a couple inches short. So, 11 inches it is! I mean, a full 12 inches on each side may just look a bit over the top and ostentatious! 11 inches is much more tasteful. :) 

The next step was adding decorative detail. We used trim moulding to create this detailed effect. Breaking the frame into sections gives it a more upscale feel. We tossed around a couple different patterns, but at the end of the day kept a pretty traditional look.

Once the frame was completely built out, it was time for the finishing touch, the mantle. Yes, the mantle I was so excited to get that I couldn't even take the time to write down what size we needed! For those of you who find excitement in driving out into the woods in two degree weather to hand pick your very own Christmas tree, that you then have to cut down and haul home, all while being pricked by pine needles, to finally display it proudly in your Living Room window, knowing you're going through all that work just for a good story to tell your friends, that was the kind of anticipation I was feeling. At least I think it was. Because I don't actually enjoy that whole Christmas Tree ordeal. Artificial all the way over here! Anyways...back to the mantle.

We have an acquaintance who tears down old barns as a hobby. One day I was talking to him about our fireplace vision. After hearing all the various types of wood he had collected over the years, it seemed like a no-brainer to head on over to his place. I spent a good two hours walking around and learning about all the different types of wood he had torn down. It was really quite interesting, and by the end of the day, I was ready to claim my very own piece of wood. It was a beam from a barn built in the mid-1800's. Pretty cool stuff! I hauled it all the way from the back of the property into my car, and while I didn't get pricked by pine needles, I did walk away with a couple splinters. But guess what, that mantle is a great talking piece when we have company over, so it was all worth it!  

So let's get to the After pictures already!

Once the mantle was on, the finishing touch was to paint everything. I chose Snow Fall by Behr for the frame, which is the same color as the trim. You may also notice that the brick is now black. The gray just seemed a bit too blah and blended in with the flooring.

I've never been one who gets really into holiday decorating, but now with this fancy mantle, I'm all about it! 

Although the exterior is now looking good, the inside of the chimney is a different story. But until we get around to those repairs, I'm loving our pseudo fire from the candelabra.

One common theme we strived for throughout our home renovation was combining the old with the new. I think this fireplace really achieved that effect. 

Overall, I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out!

Looking back, it's hard to believe it's the same fireplace.