Fireplace Transformation: A Bold Paint Makeover, DIY Mantel

7 Materials
2 Days


When we bought our house, this fireplace was a focal point in the living room but needed some love. The insert was rusted, old, and the house inspector who looked over the place before we bought it basically said ‘yeah if you don’t want a house fire, don’t use it.’

It took almost a full year for the fireplace to get to her current self because, as with most new homeowner DIYs, making your house a home takes time. But, if we sat down and did it all in one go it wouldn't take us longer than a weekend.

Here are the steps we took for our (very long, very slow) fireplace makeover.

To read more about this project, click here.

Cut your wood, assemble your mantel

Obviously your dimensions won't be the exact same as ours, but you get the general idea for the shape.

Basically, you’re going to make a box that sits over your current, skinny fireplace mantel.

It’s easiest if you lay this all out upside down, with what will be your top piece on the floor or wherever you’re working.

Sand and stain

We sanded down the whole thing, using 120 grit sandpaper. You could use a higher grit (higher grit = smoother finish) but that’s what we had on hand.

We did a swipe over the whole thing, making sure our wood-filled areas were nice and flat, and then went over each of the edges to ‘soften’ them a little bit.

We used Varathane stain in the color Provincial to stain the whole thing, then a coat of Polycrylic to seal it and make it easier to clean.

Mount on your fireplace

Once the stain and poly is dry, swirl a generous amount of wood glue across the whole top of your original mantel, then slide your new DIY fireplace mantel box over the top into place and weigh it down with whatever you’ve got on hand (weights, vases, books, etc) for a couple of hours while it dries. Alternatively if you want to be able to remove it (or if you’re renting and can’t do anything permanent), screw it into place in a couple spots along the top and it’ll stay put.

Paint the fireplace

The fireplace sat for a few months still white and with the weird tile strip but with its phase one pick-me-up of the mantel makeover.

Now, the fireplace is finally finished and it looks so good. It’s the perfect bold statement in our otherwise very neutral living room.

Enjoy your final project

Whether you're in a snowy climate, or just looking for a statement piece in your room, an updated, modern fireplace can sure bring a lot of coziness.

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2 of 11 comments
  • Em
    on Nov 12, 2020

    Originally I cringed when I saw the black paint over what I thought was marble slab, but looked closer and see that they were just tile. I would still put something to cover them. Like a beautiful piece of wood or a few pieces of reclaimed wood stained to match mantle. It looks like something is missing. Perhaps one beautiful tile or wooden design in the middle surrounded by wood over the tile. I am not a huge fan of painted fireplaces, but yours somehow looks just right.

  • Shelly Cook
    Shelly Cook
    on Nov 29, 2020

    Looks absolutely beautiful!!

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