There is so much to say about this DIY fireplace that I want to share because we often see projects on Pinterest that inspire us, but we aren't present for the blood sweat, and tears that actually go into the projects. I mentioned in my Modern Living Room Reveal that this room took us seven years to design just how we liked it! When you buy your first home to renovate, you do everything that needs to be done to make it livable. Of course, you come up with designs to make it beautiful, but making it your dream home isn't at the top of the list for your first home renovation, at least it wasn't for us at the time. This is our first and hopefully our last renovation for a home that we personally will be living in because we plan to stay here as long as we can. After the initial renovation to get our living room livable instead of the original dark and grungy look, I started changing it over the years little by little to fit our aesthetic.
Our living room went through many variations before we dreamed up this modern DIY fireplace.
I originally had no idea how I wanted this room to look. I only knew that I wanted it to have white paint, lots of natural bright light, and an open concept feel. I had to go through so many variations to get it there and not only did the room develop over time but so did my taste! I would dare say it took me lots of changes and practicing on this room specifically to understand the aesthetic that I wanted for our home overall. You can see the before photos of where the living room started, to where it has come over the last seven years.
Our DIY Fireplace Before
This room was gross before we started renovating! The changes to this room were mostly cosmetic, but it needed a deep cleaning in addition to a complete makeover. However, beyond making it livable, something that I have come to realize is that, if you are not a professional interior designer as most of us are not, you need help getting started. This goes beyond Pinterest ideas because you can get inspiration from Pinterest all day long, but until you know what you don't like about the current room, you're not going to truly know how to create it into something you love. Even though it took me several years to understand this process of doing a DIY home renovation, now that I have learned that IS a process, I can identify it and use it in future projects to get to the end result much faster. If I had known it was a process and not me just changing my mind every few years until I found something that I liked, I could have used it to my advantage and saved us so much time, trouble, and money!
The Phases Of Our Fireplace Design
Identifying that I am not a fan of exposed brick. The first photo is from years ago when I initially painted our fireplace brick black when we first moved in. I'm not a fan of exposed red brick that so many homes in our area have, so that was the first phase of identifying something I didn't like.
Live with the black and white fireplace for a while, hate it, change it to all white as shown in the second photo.
Once I painted the fireplace from brick to black to white and still wasn't entirely settled, I started moving from painting to adding decor. I tried adding different sizes of round mirrors to fill the space between the fireplace mantel and the ceiling. I tried adding decor on top of the mantel itself. I also tried going all out around Christmas time to help with filling the space to see if that helped develop the style that I was trying to find. Note to self, find the style first, then try things, ha. Oh yeah, and this room was a dining room in our many phases of figuring out the design for this room. It was not feeling cozy enough for a living room, so we went through a phase of using it as a dining room. It worked out well until we finally had the vision to bring the room together as a cozy living room.
This fourth photo may look like we were going backward, but it was quite the opposite. I finally took a step back to LOOK at the fireplace and think about things that were not sitting with me. To start, the room still had the original crown molding. After staring and pondering instead of trying different things, I realized that the crown molding was throwing off my taste from both the molding around the fireplace and the molding at the top of the room. I finally convinced Joel to remove the fireplace mantel to get it down to bare bones as well as remove all of the crown moldings from the top of the room. Now we are getting somewhere! I finally felt a vision starting to come together despite how incomplete our mantel was looking during this phase. I preferred for it to be ugly for a bit than unsure about what I wanted, but knowing that I didn't want the style that was originally there.
Ta-da! By phase five we had finally figured it out. We wanted to create a DIY fireplace with a modern aesthetic and the room started coming together naturally. We purchased the Samsung Frame TV, we moved the black pendant light from another room to this one to try it out, and I started researching couches endlessly. This modern fireplace centered not only the living room, but it brought our entire vision together for the rest of the room.
5 Step Modern DIY Fireplace
First things first as I mentioned before, we had an existing fireplace, so this blog post will be focused on starting with the fireplace that you have. There are several DIY fireplaces on Pinterest if you are looking for one to build a faux fireplace or put in an electric one where no fireplace preexisted. We took a look at our preexisting fireplace to determine the steps that needed to be done for fire precautions as well as drawing up the design. I did extensive research on fireproof caulk to seal the edges, and fireproof faux concrete finishes, as well as researched any fire safety codes needed for our area. Our fireplace was not very deep, so Joel wanted to extend the brick another layer or two out from the existing fireplace to give us more depth to our fireplace for safety reasons. We needed another layer, but we couldn't build the fireplace too far out from the current setup. This also meant that I would possibly be limited in the future for what I could do to the left and right sides of the fireplace. I originally wanted to put in shelves, but the width of the new fireplace is not very deep, so that is the current phase we are in which is deciding how to design the left and right walls for a styled living room look.
The next phase was to start framing the fireplace build with wood beams. We used Hardie backer board to surround the entire build. This board is a special fireproof and waterproof board that you can buy at any Home Depot or Lowes. I recommend doing your research to ensure that you are buying the correct material because this step is the most important when it comes to fire safety for your fireplace. We already had our own saw and knew how to use it with Hardie board from DIYing the exterior of our home with Hardie Plank Siding. If you are unfamiliar with using a table saw or don't own one, I recommend hiring someone to take over this phase for you or working with a friend that can do it for you. My husband did all of the builds and cutting for our DIY fireplace. We also had to use a special blade specifically designed for Hardie board and you will want to wear a mask because the dust from cutting is toxic, although it's a good idea to wear a mask for any cutting project to avoid breathing in sawdust. You will also need special screws that can take the thickness of the board as well as hold everything in place long term.
Next, we started mixing our feather finish which is the faux concrete that we used to finish the fireplace and give it the white concrete look. We used joint tape first to seal off the seams along with this tool to smooth it and this tool to hold it while spreading it on the fireplace. The first step to using this stuff is to seal all of the joints FIRST. That way when you are putting on the rest of it over the full surface of the DIY fireplace, the seams are already seamless. It also makes smoothing the feather finish much easier. Joel kept mentioning how easy this stuff was to work with. It really does fit the name and goes on smooth as a feather. He didn't sand it down once it dried to maintain the textured concrete look.
Joel did everything in phases, so at this phase, he covered the original brick with the Hardie Board to seal that as well. We went full faux concrete for a complete DIY fireplace build. No more brick! The brick was also hard to keep painted, even with lots of priming, the paint kept chipping over the years. This solved a functional problem for us doing a complete fireplace build.
In the final stage of the DIY fireplace build, we put the finishing touches on the faux concrete feather finish and decided not to sand it down other than the edges of the fireplace. Joel wanted to leave the feather finish textured look and I am glad that we did! I love how the entire look came out when finished. I recommend sealing the interior of your fireplace where the Hardie Board meets the existing fireplace using fireproof caulk to avoid any possible flames or debris getting through the seams. The Hardie Board is fireproof, however, the interior wood beams are not!
Tips For Mounting a TV to Your DIY Fireplace
We wanted to mount a Frame TV to our fireplace, but there are only so many tips that you can find online for mounting the TV prior to having the actual setup in hand. We didn't have the TV yet because we ordered it on sale for Black Friday and we were in the middle of building our fireplace when we ordered it. I realized the Samsung TVs have what is called a One Connect box, so we quickly did entirely new research on that and cut a hole during the build. We made a hole for the outlet and had to have one installed as well as a box that would fit the One Connect box. A few unanswered questions for us were, could we put it behind the TV and still have it pick up a signal? Did it need to be accessible for any reason? We winged all of our unanswered questions, because you really don't know until we had the Frame TV in hand, but we didn't run into any issues with our build. Our mounting plan worked and we have been enjoying the TV on our modern concrete fireplace for almost a year now.