I really really really hate being hot. When we bought our house, putting a fireplace in never really crossed my mind, because it seemed like just another way to get annoyingly hot. However, slowly but surely I was convinced otherwise. Chris’s parents had an unused fireplace insert, and once the idea started to form, I was all in on a fireplace build! Especially once we decided to include LOTS of hidden storage, and a hidden tv!
This project has been just over a year in the making, and I’m SO happy to say it is finally finished!! One more thing to cross off the ever-growing list of home projects 😉 It took about 10 weeks of off and on weekend work to get the main frame of the fireplace pretty much completely done, but obviously there’s a large amount of time between 10 weeks and a year. Part of the holdup was certainly due to pure pure laziness and exhaustion – mostly on my part… 2020 was the year I fiercely battled my new thyroid issues, and most days I was dead tired by 3pm.
But a bigger holdup with our mantle. We knew we wanted a very large, thick slab of live edge walnut for the mantle. It just took a long time to find it! But when we finally did, it all came together fairly quickly. The majority of 2020 was spent looking at a 90% finished fireplace sans mantle, but it was worth the wait!!
Since this project has been so long, I really don’t have a ton of great details for you. Honestly, it’s hard to even remember some of the steps we took, or why we (by “we” I mean “Chris”) chose to take them. I pulled together all the photos I took from the build, and if you’re interested, you can watch the fireplace highlight on my Instagram stories here.
Hopefully it’s fairly easy to follow along from the photos below… if you have more specific questions about something we did, leave a comment and I’ll ask the resident construction man 😂
The very beginning… it feels like forever ago! We began by cutting two identical pieces of plywood into the sideways “C” shape above.
Then Chris connected those two pieces to form a ‘bridge’! This would sit around the fireplace insert! The last photo is right after I put a coat of primer on it. I only did primer, because I knew we’d be covering it with shiplap anyway!
It’s a little hard to tell in the first photo, but do you see the three white circles on the wall? That’s where the tv used the hang! We moved it up super high so we could hide it behind the top of the fireplace. We also had to purchase a new tv mount that swivels and moves in all directions. In the last photo, Chris is cutting a hole in the drywall right behind the tv to add another outlet, so our tv cords can be hidden!
Lincoln really enjoyed sleeping where the insert would go 😄 In the second photo, I attempted to draw a rendering of what it would eventually look like 😂 I’ll stick to photography!
Cutting the piece of plywood to cover the top of the bottom piece.
First photo: Removing the crown moulding from the ceiling. Second photo: Installing the frame for the top piece. Third photo: The fireplace insert is hooked up!!
I didn’t get any photos of our process for hanging the front part… probably because it was the exact opposite of easy 😂 It was so much trial and error! And honestly, it’s still not perfect. But it is finished! We ran into some problems with the weight of the piece, even though Chris took SO much care to make it as light as humanly possible. If we had unlimited money, we could’ve sprung for the really expensive heavy duty hinges. But since we don’t, we’re happy to deal with needing to prop it up. In the first photo, you can see that it DOES hold itself up! It’s perfect when you’re sitting on the couch to watch tv. But if you were standing, the top part covers the top of the tv. When we prop it up (I literally use a Swiffer, hahaha), it completely fixes that!
Seeing the shiplap go up was so exciting! Chris put nickels in between each board to make sure they were the same distance apart. It actually took a lot of math (that I had absolutely zero part in) to figure out what size the boards should be, in order to make them as equal as possible all the way up. It’s very confusing to explain, so just trust me 😉
Also not pictured, I primed and painted the whole thing!
On Halloween, we drove out to Polyface Farm and Joel took us through their barn of wood. Our main goal in going was to get a bunch of oak so we could build a bed frame, but way in the back we found an AMAZING piece of walnut! As soon as I saw it, I knew it’d be perfect for the mantle. It had been very difficult to find a piece of wood long enough, but it was just right!
I was just giddy with excitement when I saw it up for the first time. In the second photo, it wasn’t even screwed in OR finished being sanded!
Those are all of the progress photos I have, so now all that’s left is to show you the finished product! As a reminder, here’s the before:
And the after! See what I mean about the top part covering the tv? We really don’t watch tv much (shocking, considering the DVDs we like the collect 😄 We don’t have cable OR internet, so we can’t even stream anything!), but every now and then we want to have a cozy movie night! We didn’t want to get rid of the tv completely, but since it’s such a tiny part of our lives we didn’t feel that it deserved to be showcased in our home. This is the perfect solution for us!! I love that the living room doesn’t feel cluttered by a tv, but we still have the option to watch it.
The hidden storage is AMAZING. We’ve already completely filled up the bookshelf and we need another one – good thing that’s a project already in the works 😉 It’s also empty across the top (remember that bridge?), and it’s the perfect place for my yoga mat, games, and other miscellaneous items that get tossed in! 😄
The grain on this walnut is just so beautiful!
I really love the live edge! This slab was just waiting in that barn to become a fireplace mantle.
For Christmas, Kate got me this tapestry! Chris made a canvas frame, and we stapled it to it. I am thrilled with how it turned out! The colors couldn’t be more perfect in this room. Especially since I recently repainted half the wall right inside the front door to be navy blue (I’ll share that project another day, once I get it finished)!
What a huge difference!! I’m so glad I got over my fear of being too warm, because you know the great thing about the fireplace? When I get too hot, there’s a handy little “off” button that takes care of the problem right away 😄