When Lindsay Jackman and her husband added a larger living room on to their tiny bunglow, a fireplace was a “must” for the new space. When Lindsay priced all their options, a purely-cosmetic faux fireplace was the only option that fit into the budget.
Here, Lindsay, of the blog The White Buffalo Styling Co., shows exactly how she built out the faux fireplace with a custom-made wooden mantel and a tile hearth.
While this isn’t a real fireplace, we wanted it to look like one. We started by bumping out the sheetrock into the room, so that the firebox of our faux fireplace would be inset into the wall. We cut an opening into the sheet rock that matched the dimensions of our firebox. We planned to use ventless gas logs, so we had a gas line put in prior to attaching the firebox.
Trimming Out a Faux Fireplace
Tile for the Firebox and Hearth
Once the gas line was complete, we attached the firebox to the studs so it would be secure. Then, we tiled the fireplace surround up to the edge of the firebox and hearth on the floor.
You have to use a non-combustible material on the outside of the firebox, so tile was definitely our go-to. We wanted a luxe finished product that really contrasted well against the rustic elements in the room, so we chose Carrara marble hexagon tiles for the surround and oversized Carrara subway tiles for the floor for contrast.
Building the Mantel
Once the tile was in place, it was time to build the mantel out around it. We wanted sconces above the mantel, so we wired those in before the sheet rock was installed. We went with a simple Craftsman theme for the faux fireplace to fit the rest of our house. Typical Craftsman fireplaces are characterized by columns on the top and bottom of the mantel. We measured to make sure those columns would be centered around the sconces.
We chose to use primed finger-joint pine boards for the columns and trim work instead of MDF for a more uniform painted finish.
We started by building out the bottom columns. We used 2 x 4 boards as spacers for the columns and screwed those into the studs.
Then we used 1 x 4 boards to create the sides.
We wanted the fireplace to have dimension and not just be flat trim against the sheetrock, so adding these bottom columns that stick out four inches from the wall, helps with that.
The columns are 48 in. high, which is a standard mantel height.
Once we had the structure of the columns built, we installed a face board with finish nails around the outside edge. The nail holes will be covered by the trim pieces, so you don’t have to fill those holes.
For the upper columns, we mirrored the lower columns with 1 x 8 in. boards to give some dimension off of the sheetrock wall. We made sure the box for the sconces was centered on each one and cut squares into the board for the boxes.
We installed a 1 x 10 underneath the mantel so that it would overlap the tile. We used small pieces of wood to shim the 1 x 10 out to the depth of the tile, so that it could overlay.
Once we had the columns and basic structure all in place, we trimmed out the columns with 1 x 2 boards. We used Liquid Nails to attach all of the trim pieces so that we wouldn’t have any nail holes to fill and sand and we would get a better paint finish. We used 1 x 6 boards instead of 1 x 2 for the base of the columns to mimic the base trim in the rest of the room and give the columns more weight.
For the mantel, we ripped a 1 x 10 board to the size we needed, so that it would overhang the columns slightly. Then, we screwed it into the 2 x 4 on top of the columns.
To finish the mantel, we cut a 45-degree bevel all the way around the edge of a second 1 x 10, making sure the bottom of it was flush with the first board. Then, we installed a piece of moulding around the edge of that second board. We cut the bevel so that the molding would sit flat against the board.
Once all of the trim work was finished, we caulked all edges with painter’s caulk.
Once it was dry, we sanded it and any holes that had to be filled with 220-grit sandpaper until smooth.
For any boards that we ripped, we made sure to sand the ripped edges very well before painting. Sand the edges of those boards with a palm sander prior to putting them on the wall for the best finish.
Painting the Faux Fireplace Surround
Once the area was prepped and sanded, it was time to paint the faux fireplace surround.
This room is open to our kitchen where the cabinets were already painted a dark green. Since this is a small, open area, we wanted this fireplace to match and contrast against all of the white and wood. We went to Home Depot’s paint counter and they helped us color match the paint we needed in a Behr Marquee paint. It looks the exact same color and finish as our cabinets!
We used semi-gloss paint to give the faux fireplace a more finished furniture look. We used brushes in corners where a roller wouldn’t fit, but wherever possible, we used a foam roller meant for smooth finishes to get the best painted finish.
We absolutely love how the trim turned out. It made the fireplace the grand focal point of this room!
You’d never know it wasn’t a “real” fireplace.
Lindsay Jackman is a design blogger and a home-renovation survivor. She says she’s has been looking for opportunities to decorate since she was a little girl. Now she shares style tips and how-to’s on her blog The White Buffalo Styling Co. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband Chris, baby Rosie and their pooch Gracie.