How to Build a Portable Free Standing Decorative Faux Fireplace

4 Materials
2 Days

So excited to share my favorite project of all time: a DIY faux fireplace! I've always dreamed of having a fireplace but my rental apartment doesn't have one. I was determined to change that and I finally did it ! I'm absolutely in love with it and It's amazing how it completely transformed my living room - it's like I moved to a new apartment!

***Do keep in mind that this project is for decorative purposes only and is not to be used as a heater***

This is what my apartment looked like when I moved in - very boring and zero character.

I used 2"x3" (but you could also use 2"x4") , 1"x12" pine boards (but you could also use plywood) and 1/4" thick plywood.

I started by building 4 supports using the 2"x3", using a speed square to make sure that every corner is at 90 degrees.

Then I made the firebox by attaching the 1"x12" pieces that make the sides of the firebox to 2 of the supports and then attaching the top and bottom. Then I attached the 1"x12" piece that make the base, attached the remaining 2 supports at each end and then I attached the 1"x12" to the top of the supports.

This is the structure of the fireplace surround before I attached plywood to it. You can easily customize the dimensions to suite your space.

I covered the structure with 1/4" thick plywood and painted the firebox with black chalk paint. This entire structure only cost $65 to build and then can be customized with any mantel, finish and fake fire log insert.

I wanted my fireplace to have a modern yet soft beachy look so I decided to cover the surround with easy to install peel and stick Smart Tiles that have a beautiful stone finish. They are easy to cut with a utility knife and ruler and there's no grouting so there's no mess! And it also made tiling around the corners much easier than having to cut real tile.

After tiling, I installed a mantel that I made with 1"x2"s, 1x"4"s and plywood that I had on hand. It was a bit of a frankenstein but once I installed it and painted it, it gave the desired effect of having a nice thick mantel. I added a mantle. Then the final piece of the puzzle to make this look like a fireplace is an electrical log insert that has surprisingly real looking flame!

*** I only use it as a decor item and NEVER use the heater function as it is not recommended in this type of application ***

And voila! My dream of having a fireplace has come true! It has truly changed the entire look of my living room and apartment and since this is essentially like a piece of furniture, I'll be able to take it with me when I move out!

This was a really fun project to build and I made this video of the building process showing all the steps in more detail. Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did!

Suggested materials:

  • 2"x3"  (1"x12")
  • 1/4" thick plywood (4'x8')  (material cost doesn't include mantel or tile)

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


Have a question about this project?

3 of 28 questions
  • Susan Truxal
    on Jan 6, 2019

    Where did you get the peel and stick tile?

    • Suzanne Olsen
      on Jan 8, 2019

      Amazon has a huge selection. The price isn't bad and I have prime so free shipping. I did the kitchen back splash in my rental unit and my home

  • Glenna
    on Oct 10, 2019

    Would those stick and peel tiles work as flooring for a super tiny half bathroom?

    • Wyldecent
      on Oct 10, 2019

      No. They are not meant to be walked on and eventually will flatten out and start tearing. If water gets under them it will ruin them and the subflooring.

  • Kareema
    on Oct 18, 2019

    Did this have to be attached to the wall? I'd love to do this in my apartment, but we can't attach structures like this to our walls. It looks amazing! I really love the pearly tile look. I get so inspired by all of these beautiful DIY projects! Thank you for sharing this!😁😁😁

    • Crystal Canaan Ingram
      on Oct 22, 2019

      I’ve read other renter posts where the person attached the peel and stick tiles to a thin piece of plexiglass cut out around cabinets, windows, etc and them placed it up against the wall. I’m sure you could use other cheaper materials besides plexiglass like corrugated poster board for example.. as long as it’s stiff it should work. I own my home so I put them directly on the wall but they are pretty sticky and would adhere to almost any flat surface. Good luck!

Join the conversation

2 of 226 comments
  • Kathy
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Well done!!

  • Millies_mom47
    on Dec 4, 2019

    GREAT JOB!! Just for your information the top shelf of the fireplace where you hang your Christmas socks is the mantel. The black shiny piece in the front on the floor is called a hearth. Not being snitty I just thought you might like to know. I love to learn new things. We've always been lucky and the homes we've rented where my husbands job has taken us have had real fireplaces (wood burning), but the last two haven't had them and we've really missed having a fireplace of any kind. Actually I was just remembering the very first place we lived in that had to do with my husbands work didn't have a fireplace, so my kids and I got creative and built a fireplace out of cardboard. Back then the dollar store had sheets of plastic that were printed with red brick. So we used that for the front. It was great, our neighbors and the property manager gave us all the appliance boxes so we were able to build a really nice and good sized fireplace. It was also very lightweight so if the kids fell on it they didn't get hurt it just fell apart. The next place we moved had a fireplace so we burned the cardboard one. Love yours!!

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