I love a good before and after, and boy, do I have a good before and after for you.
Our suburb house (Squirrel Estate) has so many things that scream 90s to me – golden brass hardware, dark granite, cherry and oak cabinets. Since that’s absolutely not my style, I’ve been working hard these past few months at transforming it into a cozy, modern home.
Our living room is a good-sized room with a lot of natural, filtered light. We plan on making this our hangout spot/library. The one thing that I really didn’t like about the living room was the fireplace. The dark granite, the dark cherry color, the overly-decorative trims, nothing about this fireplace looked good to me.
But the fireplace was in really good shape (our house is only 20 years old), and gutting it felt like a total waste. So I set out to remodel it without a total gut job. I knew there were a few things I could do that would make it look a lot cleaner and fresher. 1) Paint, 2) Replace the mantel with one that has cleaner lines, and 3) Simplify the look by removing all the trims.
The first thing I did was remove the top mantelpiece and all the decorative trims. I was basically left with a wooden box, the granite surround, and the granite hearth. I then primed both the wood and the granite (Kilz is my favorite primer) and gave everything 2 good coats of paint.
The original plan was to stencil the granite surround (where the granite frames out the fireplace). I gave it a go, but it turned out super messy, and it just wasn’t what I was going for. So I pivoted and decided to simplify and go for a Scandanavian-inspired look. I took some scrap plywood I had on hand, and used construction adhesive to adhere it onto the hearth. This made the entire fireplace surround all leveled. I then took a bunch of 1×2 and cut them to length and nailed them onto the surround to create a slat look that is very popular right now. I used a 1×2 itself as a spacer.
To make the chunky mantel, I used one piece of 1×8 and 2 pieces of 1×6 to create a box. Using the 1×8, I cut it to length to make make the front and two side panels. I cut these at a 45° angle, so it looks a lot more seamless and actually looks like one big block of wood. Using the 1×6, I cut to length a top and bottom piece to fit inside the front and side panels. For the bottom panel, I used a jigsaw to cut the width and depth of fireplace, so that way the mantel and just slide on from the top and sit on top comfortably. After that, it was a lot of wood glue and clamping to make it all secure. Once the mantel was finished, I finished it with two coats of Minwax Pickled Oak stain. Then I attached the mantle to the fireplace using screws.
To finish, I spray painted the fireplace grates using a high heat spray paint in matte black.
This project cost about $60 (the lumber and spray paint). I didn’t count the primer and white paint since I already had those on hand. This fireplace makeover totally sets the tone and vibe of the house, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.