Simple Decorating Tips
Simple Decorating Tips
  • Hometalker
  • New Richmond, WI

DIY a High-end Look With an Inexpensive Fireplace


Hi Liz here from SimpleDecoratingTips.com.

With the wonderful choices in electric fireplaces out on the market now, a world of ability has opened up to us to add a fireplace to any room. With a little carpentry you can DIY a high-end look with an inexpensive fireplace.
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
Now we can create a cozy room, highlighted with the focal point of a fireplace, all the while being able to have an additional heat source. To add a fireplace to any room, there’s no need to build any sort of chimney or drill through the wall for exhaust… in fact, all you need is an outlet.

(To see everything we did in this amazing condo renovation, check at the end of this post for the link.)

Just a quick rundown of that condo project… it is a 1980’s small condo that we renovated into a ‘Modern Swedish Farmhouse’ style.

This is the living room space during the de-construction:
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
The wall dividing the kitchen from the dining area, that flows into the living room area was removed, opening it up to one great room.
There is a large sliding patio door on the far end of the space. However, an important feature that was missing in this space is an axis to that strong visual line from the kitchen to the sliding door.
By creating an axis in the living room area with an addition of a fireplace, it allows the space to be balanced and visually defines it.
The first thing we did was to determine how much space would be the living room space. That way we could center the fireplace on that space… hence the ‘axis’.
Then we went fireplace shopping…
Well I went fireplace shopping, online… and forwarded the choices to them. Knowing that they were going for a more streamlined modern look, I was thrilled to find the one I did, (see link at end of this post to see sources)

These are the pictures from the link for the fireplace:
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
This electric fireplace is visually very appealing, but also is a solid heat source for the space, it even has a thermostat.

Once we had the fireplace determined, although at that point we could have just hung it on the wall, plugged it in and called it good to go, I really wanted to create a very strong visual axis in the living space, and the carpenter was already there doing everything else, so I had him build a faux fireplace chase:
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
This was the first chase he built, but it had a mistake…

In keeping with the clean steamline ‘Modern Swedish Farmhouse’ I didn’t want any kind of a hearth that jutted out. I had designed it to be a solid flat plane with an inset only for the fireplace unit to hang. There was a wee bit of communication confusion from me, (the designer) to the carpenter and the homeowner to the carpenter. Of course the homeowner always has the final say… that’s clear to understand. They’re the ones that will live with it day in and day out, so they’re the ones that must like it… plus whoever signs their name on the bottom of the check is the one that has full veto power. (as a designer, I understand and respect this fact completely!) This wasn’t a case like that, this was just a matter of the homeowner not having a clear understanding of the vision, but was very open and in full agreement to the original design of the flat plane chase once I explained it again.

All that being said, it was fairly easy for the carpenter to fix the jutting hearth mistake and create the flat plane front of the original design:
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
The entire faux chase was then covered with the same wonderful whitewashed planks that were installed in the hallway and on the kitchen island. Repeating an element like that gives the space a sense of congruity and flows from space to space.

This is the inset panel for the fireplace to mount to.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the fireplace in hand before one builds a chase for it to fit in. I just don’t trust the specs that are listed on the website, not only could they be wrong, there could also be a problem with stock, backorders etc. and you wind up never actually get the fireplace you thought you were going to get. (the old adage ‘a bird in the hand verses two in the bush‘ is solid advise for making custom designed items like this)

I’ve had orders never come to fruition and had to re-order so many times for different jobs… I never trust for sure I’m getting something, until I have actually received it. Don’t build this until you have it in hand!
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
Here is the fireplace mounted:
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
There is a special backlighting feature of this fireplace, so we built the inset a little larger to showcase that subtle lighting.

This chase is flanked with built in bookshelves on each side.
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
The living room space now has a strong axis creating a floor plan that visually seems to push the walls out and gives a sense of balance to the living room space.
diy a high end look with an inexpensive fireplace, fireplaces mantels
By adding a fireplace to this space gave us the features we were looking for. The wonderful options that are out there for us in the world of electric fireplaces is fantastic… giving us tons of choices to easily add a fireplace to any room… living room, or master bedroom… how about a dining room, with an antique mantel? lovely! So many options!

Thinking you may want to order a fireplace for you space? 


Suggested materials:

  • Electric fireplace
  • Barnwood

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 10 questions
  • Suz1301961
    on Apr 1, 2017

    Curious as to why the carpenter wasn't insteucted to wrap the sides of the chase to match the front. Doesn't look as professional as it could. Boards should have been matched up at the corners.

    • Jane
      on Mar 15, 2019

      no not having it match on the sides would drive me crazy or put the built in all the way up or figure out how to hide it somehow


  • Soleil
    on Aug 14, 2018

    Can you add a wood fire place

    • Simple Decorating Tips
      on Jan 1, 2019

      A wood fireplace needs a full and properly built chimney, and fireplace. That is a whole different thing... although the finished look is similar. That's the beauty of an electric fireplace like this one, it makes it super easy to add it and get the look without having to do major reconstruction.

  • Jane
    on Mar 15, 2019

    move the fireplace down or the tv up to meet the specifications?

Join the conversation

3 of 31 comments
  • Donna Coleman Mobbs
    on Jul 15, 2018

    I'm wanting to install a ventless gas log unit. Thanks for sharing. Looks great!

  • LaVerne Peterson-Jackson
    on Sep 23, 2018

    I’m waiting on the delivery of my fireplace (electric).Looking for someone who can do the work.I am a DIYer but this is a little much for me. I want to place TV above I am now learning I may not be able to use the heat option since The unit I ordered is top vented. I live in Florida so that may not be a problem. I have also been advised I may be able to use the heat option with tv above, but it will need to be three feet above unit. Any advice. I really wanted it for the look.

    • Simple Decorating Tips
      on Dec 31, 2018

      LaVerne, I'm sorry for the delay, for some reason this didn't show up for me until now... It may be too late as you wrote back in September, but I'd really consider getting a front venting FP. Then you can get a zero clearance model that can be inserted safely in a wood chase.

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