Three Easy Steps to a Fixer-Upper Worthy Fireplace

October 30, 2019

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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It’s upon us! The season that draws us to the fireplace with a nice warm blanket and steamy mug of hot chocolate. Doesn’t that sound perfect?? Of course, the holidays are right around the corner, and where does everyone congregate? The kitchen and the family room. Make this the year you give your fireplace a makeover and make it the focal point in your family room.

This year I did just that! I have never loved the look of our fireplace and have always wanted to change it and make it stand out. With tile surrounding it, it always felt cold and uninviting. The mantle was builder grade and just kinda boring. I dreamt of a fireplace we could sit by and feel the warmth, but with no hearth, this was not very comfortable…….

fireplace makeover before pic

Changing the Mantel:

So on a cold winter’s day, in Nicole-fashion, I got up and decided-today is the day. Let the demo begin! My first step was to pull out the mantle and replace it with a faux wood beam. These are very easy to build and are basically the same concept as floating shelves. I wrote an entire post on how to get rid of your builder’s grade mantel and build a faux wood beam here

newly built mantle for fireplace makeover

Isn’t that amazing, just that one change makes!? Add whatever stain you love and it looks like you got it straight out of an old barn. I chose MinWax Jacobean for mine.   (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Building the Hearth:

Our family from Georgia comes up every year for Christmas and we always gather at our house for a few of the evenings. As our family grows, finding space for all of us in our family room becomes more and more strategic. This is part of my reason for wanting a hearth-it provides extra seating and it looks great! Building a hearth is no different than building a bench seat. Build the frame with 2×4’s, wrap it with quality plywood (I like to use birch), outline it with trim, paint and you have a hearth….

hearth being built

I’m telling you guys, this stuff is so much simpler than what you may think!! Here’s my full tutorial, with lots of pictures, on how I built my fireplace hearth….hearth with trim

A hearth adds so much more oooomph to a fireplace. It really makes a statement and makes it feel like a bigger part of the room.

Changing the Fireplace Surround:

Last but certainly not least, it was time to get rid of that cold tile. Covering it up proved to be the easiest and made the most sense. Add some MDF board and paint and no one would ever know there’s tile under there. Again, so simple! This “changing the fireplace surround” tutorial wraps up my fireplace makeover tutorials.

trim added to surround makeover

These three, easy to implement tutorials, will transform the entire look of your fireplace!

The before….

fireplace makeover before

and after….

family room with fireplace and sliding barn door

pictures are amazing!!

side angle of sliding barn door with goldendoodle pup sitting pretty

My fireplace is now one of my favorite parts of our home! As it should be!!


Pinterest Pin of family room

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

Be sure to join my VIP List below and never miss an upcoming post.

Other building project posts:

Mudroom Makeover-The Plan and Process

Farmhouse Bathroom Remodel

Modern Teen Bedroom Makeover

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  1. Amy

    That’s an amazing transformation! I love how you easily build around the existing tile and mantle. So pretty and inspirational!

    • Nicole Nigg

      Thank you! I’m glad you like it! It truly was an easy build!

  2. Shina

    What color paint did you use on your fireplace?

    • Nicole Nigg

      Behr Marquee Extra White. It’s my go to for all of my trim. :)

  3. Angie

    Hello, I am trying to access your diy for the fireplace hearth but it says it is password protected, can you advise? Thank you!!

    • Nicole Nigg

      Sorry! It’s being edited and therefore not available right now.

  4. Julie Brooks

    Can you tell me the name of the charcoal gray paint that you used? Beautiful changes you made!

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi Julie!
      Thank you! My go-to charcoal gray and what I used on my fireplace is Sherwin Williams Peppercorn.
      Have a great day!
      Nicole :)

      • Kathy

        Can you tell me what type of wood you used for the mantle ? Thank you

        • Nicole Nigg

          Hi Kathy,
          I used pine wood for the mantle. It’s really what I use for most all of my projects. Very easy to work with.
          Thank you! Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

  5. Chris

    I think I had a similar question to the one above. Are you worried about the top of your hearth being made from wood? Is that going to be an issue either with fire code, or just in general with concerns of it burning? If so what did you come up with for a fix?

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi Chris,
      I recommend, to keep it to fire code, only use these plans with an electric fireplace. An idea would be to cover with brick, stone, or tile.

  6. Celina

    Hello, this looks amazing! I was wondering if you have a tutorial for the shiplap section behind the fireplace that goes to the ceiling?

    Thank you!

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi Celina,
      Thank you! Yes, I do have a shiplap tutorial. Here’s the link to the same technique I used for the shiplap on the fireplace…
      You’ll notice this tutorial gives instructions for more of a broken up shiplap method. On the fireplace, I took my strips all the way across with no seams. So, basically if you want the same look as the fireplace, just measure all the way across and cut your board to fit the full length, so as not to have any seams. This gives a much more modern look. Hopefully, this makes sense. Let me know if you have any questions.
      Thank you,

  7. DeWayne

    Beautiful. But what about the combustible hearth and you bringing the wood closer to fireplace around the edges? just something to think about for those who are out there thinking you can do whatever you want around a wood burning fireplace. be careful

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi DeWayne,
      Thank you! As specified in the post, this is recommended for electric fireplaces. :)


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