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When I'm not blogging, I love walking to town with my husband for a date day, talking to my three young adult children about their lives, and planning pretty much anything I can- parties, projects, travel, budgets- you name it I will plan it! Click here to learn more about me!


September 11, 2020

How To Update Your Fireplace Surround and Mantel

How to update your fireplace surround and mantel

Are you looking for a way to update your fireplace surround and mantel? When we bought this house in 2003, the fireplace was not my first priority on changes to make. Honestly, it really never even crossed my mind until about five years ago when I started my shiplap obsession 🤪. This post is going to show you all the ways we changed our fireplace surround and mantel over the years. Like every project we have ever done- of course this one was not done all at one time either… I believe it took us almost ten years to get a look I am finally happy with 😳. What’s the saying- slow and steady wins the race? I think I lived that motto with this project!

Here are the slow steps we took to make changes to our family room fireplace:

Replace the fireplace doors

Sadly, I wasn’t very good at taking before photos before I started Instagram in 2018 but here is a photo from 2016 (the furniture is out of place because this is right when we were starting the shiplap wall in this room). At this point we had already hired someone to replace our fireplace doors probably close to ten years earlier to be this more modern craftsman look (we just had the standard gold doors before this).

This is basically what we had originally

My neighbor had already replaced her fireplace doors with a local company so I didn’t have to do any research – and tbh I hadn’t ever even realized simply replacing fireplace doors was an option. The fireplace company we used now ships all over the US for free so I would totally suggest checking them out!

I had always struggled with that niche space above the mantel- it made it very hard to hang anything 😳. In fact- I had just had those two mirrors resting against the wall in this space for almost five years before I finally committed to hanging them…

Replace mantel

After almost ten years with the above look, I finally realized I could pull that white mantel off the wall and replace it with a reclaimed wood mantel. I have always loved the look of reclaimed wood and had been pinning inspo photos for quite a while on Pinterest so when it finally came time to go shopping for what I wanted- it was pretty easy.

We have a great reclaimed wood store here in North County San Diego (and close to wine country for us so what a great way to spend a day!). They had about ten ready to be hung mantels for me to choose from in their showroom which made it quite easy for me. They also sent me home with the correct wax to use on my new mantel after it was hung so there was very little guess work involved! I used a floating mantel bracket from Etsy to make the heavy new mantel feel quite secure.

We let the kids write on the space where the new mantel was going to go.. lots of graffiti art going on here 😂

This is the mantel bracket I used

Add Shiplap

After we changed out our old mantel, we added shiplap to the space above it – filling in that silly/hard to work with niche space. We did that by putting pine wood boards in the space and covering it up with a drywall patch so that the shiplap could be attached to that material. Again- since I wasn’t on Instagram or writing a blog yet, progress shots were not even a thought in my head… sorry about that 😜.

How to update your fireplace surround and mantel

This was the look I left my fireplace and mantel at until this year. As I have told you, painting and lightening up everything became my coping mechanism for this crazy pandemic year so once I finished painting every square inch of the master bathroom, I was looking for something else to paint…

Paint the rock on your mantel surround

Here is where I did NOT get the look I was going for but luckily am still happy with the end result… I wanted to do a white wash on my rock so that I could still keep the look of the rock but get rid of the orange/peach/yellow tints. I googled this and found directions that seemed easy enough to me so I am not sure if it was the paint I decided to use or if it just wasn’t in the cards for me to get the whitewashed look I was going for… here is what I ended up doing:

How to update your fireplace surround and mantel
Prepping for paint

Step one in updating your fireplace surround: For the first coat I used a mixture of half water and half Rustoleum chalk paint in Aged Gray with a stiff bristle brush. The directions I had found online said to do this color first (but not specifically this product) to cover up the yellow/peach/orange colors in the rock because just the white alone would not be able to do that. I didn’t think anything of the look of this step as I knew I was going to be covering up the gray with a white washed paint.

How to update your fireplace surround and mantel
First coat with the gray chalk paint
These are the stiff brushes I used for this project

Step Two: this is when I panicked and realized I was not going to get that natural whitewashed look I was going for… I applied another mixture of half water and half Rustoleum chalk paint – this time with the color Linen White. When I stepped back to look at this- IT LOOKED BLUE TO ME!! Like fluorescent blue!! Tell me you see fluorescent too:

Step Three: I knew I liked the ultra white matte paint I had used from Sherwin Williams on my master bathroom floor so at this point it was the only thing I could think of using to get rid of this fluorescent look. So I added a two coats of that matte paint to my rock – I used 3 cups paint and watered it down just a tiny bit with 1/2 cup of water. I guess at this point, I could have attempted to smudge it a bit to not get the fully painted look it now had but I was so panicked about the bright blue, I wasn’t thinking super clearly. All in all – it ended up okay because I do still like my end result – even if it isn’t the more natural whitewashed look I was going for.

How to update your fireplace surround and mantel

I had read once on another friend’s blog that sometimes you have to give projects a little bit to settle in in order to like your result. This is definitely one of those projects for me. For over a month I would sit on my couch in front of my fireplace thinking omg I do not like how bright white that looks. But now that it has been about five months, I am completely used to the look and can say for sure it looks waaaayyy better to me than the original peach and orange look my rock surround had going for it. Now when I go in to friends’ houses that still have that look, in my head I am thinking hmmm how do I convince my friend to paint this? 😂

I hope you have fun updating your fireplace surround and mantel! It really does make a HUGE difference to a room – especially if you live in a builder grade home like I do and the builder really just did not add any character to your fireplace… this will be my first holiday season decorating this white fireplace area and I just know it is going to make all my decor pop like it never did before ☺️.

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