If you’ve been following along with our One Room Challenge space, you already know a portion of what we addressed in the room was the fireplace. I wanted to dive deeper into that specific area because I’ve received lots of questions about it. What was wrong with the original fireplace? How did I determine the appropriate scale? Where is the mantel or surround from, and what is it made of? How did I achieve better balance? The list goes on. Click through for all the answers, a fun before & after, the progression of how it evolved, and of course- all of the resource links! I even included some alternative cast mantel options from the same brand, because there are SO many beautiful alternatives and styles.
*This post is sponsored by Lowe’s. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use & enjoy!
Let’s start with the before. This is how the fireplace looked before we started demo…
Why replace the fireplace & mantel… it looks like it’s in good shape?
For starters, scale. The proportion and scale of the existing fireplace really bothered me. In comparison to the size of the room, it was GIGANTIC. In the above image, you can see how it compares to the french doors. It took up over half of the wall and the height was halfway to the ceiling. It just looked really off. The gas insert was also bulky and original to the home (circa 1990s), so it wasn’t very efficient. While I loved the idea and convenience of keeping the fireplace gas, it needed reworked.
In terms of the mantel, the aesthetic was ok- but the giant size wasn’t working with our home. Remember this post on millwork, determining scale, and “getting your house right”? This thing was breaking all the rules in all the wrong ways.
How did you land on the new mantel and what is it made of?
The new mantel is cast limestone and I’m in love with it! I wanted something that had modern, clean lines, was durable, heavy, the appropriate scale, and also nods to the architecture of our home in a classic way. The truth is… when we were house hunting this time last year, we put an offer on a beautiful home that had two cast mantels. I fell hard and knew someday I wanted to install one in our current home. It’s funny because after seeing this makeover on my IG stories, our real estate agent text me and said, “I see what you did there!!” Hey… this gal knows what she likes.
In all seriousness, cast limestone has been around for ages and is very timeless. I love mixing materials and this is one material that felt right for our home. After shopping the Lowe’s website, I uncovered SO many beautiful mantel options, it was really tough to choose. Want to see some of the options I was trying to decide between? Obviously, I landed on #5, but #3 was a close second. Emmett’s favorite was #6- are you surprised by that? While I love it, the super ornate details didn’t fit the colonial architecture of our home.
01: historic mantels transitional fireplace surround // 02: historic mantels traditional fireplace surround // 03: historic mantels designer fireplace surround // 04: historic mantels contemporary fireplace surround // 05: historic mantels chateau fireplace surround // 06: historic mantels ornate fireplace surround // 07: historic mantels fluted fireplace surround // 08: historic mantels botanical fireplace surround
Believe me when I say, I shopped around and this particular brand had great reviews at the best price point. Most of the competitors started at $6-$7k for similar cast products. I’m really happy I was able to save money and get the aesthetic I was looking for! I just ordered online at Lowe’s and it was delivered to our door in a crate.
The color online looks really warm and has a pink hue… is it like that in real life?
That was honestly something I was worried about! I’m happy to report, it’s a nice neutral beige / limestone color in person- with no hints of pink. My backup plan was to paint it with masonry paint (like I did our outdoor sofa), but luckily the color is perfect! It exceeded my expectations, so don’t let the online images worry you. Color is difficult to translate via RGB (on monitors).
Demo proved to be pretty easy. It was just a matter of unhooking and removing things. I’m really glad we took the time to rework the fireplace and insert because we discovered quite a few fire hazards in the process from the previous fireplace. Yikes… it’s always a little alarming to uncover issues like that when you’ve been living in the home for awhile.
After building things back up (this time to code), we were able to start putting the fireplace back together.
Did you install the fireplace and mantel yourself?
In short, yes and no. We had the gas insert installed by a friend at Emmett’s work. He owns a gas product company and sold us the insert. Lowe’s sells a handful of gas fireplace inserts, but they’re all vent-free. Our fireplace is vented, so it called for a more industrious option.
However, we installed everything else! The mantel was very easy to install and came with instructions and a kit. You can see in the image above, we shimmed everything to make it level, and glued the pieces together with the masonry adhesive it came with. Once it cures, the mantel also comes with matching grout to fill the lines, to make it look more seamless.
You can check out how it progressed through each phase in the stop motion graphic below…
Lastly, I was able to decorate and style the mantel… probably prematurely because the space isn’t even close to being finished. You’ll get the full update in tomorrow’s One Room Challenge post, but I hung this beautiful mirror (also from Lowe’s) and it really pulled the vignette together.
I don’t want to spoil the entire thing before the room reveal later this month (or maybe next), but doesn’t it look a thousand times better?! I can’t wait to decorate it for Christmas! Would you like to see a holiday decorating post? I’m thinking I’ll keep it simple with classic greenery this year.
Check back tomorrow for my ORC update and some more sneak peeks. The other featured designers will be sharing their reveals, but I’m staying true to our space (and the design plan) and will continue to share updates until the final reveal is totally ready. Thanks again for your kind words and encouragement (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this post)! Sometimes the unexpected occurs when renovating and you just have to roll with the punches. Thanks for helping me remember we’re human and it’s ok. I’d rather not cut corners and finish each and every detail!