DIY Fireplace Makeover Part One: Updating Mantel Moldings


In need of a fireplace makeover?  Read and watch how we did ours to get inspiration for your DIY fireplace makeover.  This is part one in a series of blog posts and videos showing the progress.  Thanks to DAP for sponsoring this post, all opinions are ours.

Since we moved into our house a couple years ago we have done a LOT of work making the house ours.  But, one caveat is when there is a lot to do, we tend to start but not finish anything!  There have been literally so many things to do that once something is functioning, we move on.

Today’s project, the fireplace mantel and surround is one of those.  Technically it is just for looks, although if we needed to we could light a wood fire inside of it, so I guess it is also a good emergency heat source.  But for now, we don’t use it much.

When we moved in, the fireplace was the least of our worries.  The moldings were beautifully done, and truly it is quite a nice piece.

simple fireplace mantel with white tile and white painted mantel

Original fireplace when we bought the house.

But a couple elements felt dated and overall, the mantel felt a little lost on the wall.  Especially when we removed some walls and opened the space, it just did not command the attention it should.

Now, we could have lived with the fireplace exactly as it was for quite some time, but one of the major changes I wanted to make was not having the elevated hearth.  I wanted it to be flush with the floor, because the room is not huge and having it elevated, just sort of felt like it crept into the room too far.  When the time came to install our AMAZING floors, we decided to rip out the hearth and put flooring over it until we were ready to make a more permanent plan for the fireplace.  (remember how I told you finishing a project was not our main goal, ha ha)

removing tile from a fireplace surround with a hammer drill

Removing tile with a hammer drill.  So much easier.

Well, for the last couple years the fireplace has been stripped of tile and the hearth and just waiting patiently while we figured out what we wanted to do.

Well the wait is over!


Cue heavenly chorus…

Over the next few posts we are going to show you how we updated our existing fireplace mantle, creating a much needed focal point for our main living space.

And you guys it turned out amazing!  Be sure to some back and see the updates.  You don’t want to miss out!

Here is how the space looked before the more recent makeover began.

open concept floorplan living room before DIY fireplace makeover

fireplace mantel before the makeover and the base image for the sketch

One of the ways I like to figure out plans for our space is to draw on a printed image the changes and then color them with colored pencils (since they are sort of opaque and help to hide the old items on the image)  So I started drawing and here is the plan I came up with.


Starting point for the conceptual sketch.

Sketch of DIY fireplace makeover changes with flanking bookshelves

Rendered sketch of the design that we are after.

Now currently we are not adding the bookcases.  Right now we are just focusing on the fireplace makeover portion..  But someday (hopefully soon) we will get started on the bookcases – and I think when we add them they will be full height!!  Cue happy dance, in the future…

One major update we made before actually focusing on the mantel was spending a week leveling the highly textured wall.  We plan on doing a tutorial soon, so stay tuned for that.  It is amazing the difference it made to smooth the texture.  The room feels SO updated, simply without a heavy wall texture.

Now, to actually get to work on updating the molding.  One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to update the columns/legs  and remove the fluting.  and also widen the column slightly but I felt the header needed to be widened too.  And then adding some shaker style panels.  I told Justin what I was hoping for and he sketched up a few options.  The sketches really helped us narrow down exactly what we wanted to do.

Fireplace Mantel Sketch with shaker style molding surround

Justin’s sketch of molding option we agreed on.


Sketching out ideas on paper (or finding inspiration images) when working on a project with a spouse is a really helpful way to communicate the design you are hoping for and helps to clarify and make changes while you work on a plan.  This is one of the things that has helped our marriage while remodeling for so many years.

Once we decided on the plan we were ready to get going on the fireplace mantel update.

We love DAP products!  It’s amazing what they have to get the job done right.  Here is a list off all the supplies that we used to update this part of the DIY fireplace makeover.

  • DAP Plastic Wood Patch – Patching all holes and joints.  It sanded really nice an smooth.
  • DAP Touch ‘n Foam – Blocking out cold drafts around the fireplace mantel surround.
  • DAP Weldwood Wood Glue – For adding the trim work under the mantel shelf.
  • DAP Dyna Grip Construction Adhesive – For gluing on the shiplap to the wall.
  • DAP Alex Plus Caulk – Caulking edges up against tape and any gaps between boards.
  • DAP Rapid Fuse Glue – For gluing the base boards in part tree of the makeover.

The video really shows a lot on how we were able to get the final look.  Be sure to go an watch the diy fireplace makeover video to see how everything was done.

  • Removed fluted leg details, sanded and patched the surfaces.
  • Extended the header down to be wider.
  • Widened the legs to make them bigger.
  • Added the thin molding trim on legs and header.
  • Added the shiplap above the mantel to extend the look to the ceiling.
  • Patched the holes and sanded.
  • Taped off all the edges up against the wall color and ceiling for a nice clean paint edge.
  • Caulked up against the tape for a clean smooth final paint look.
  • Sanded and vacuumed to get ready for paint.

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Hopefully you found this DIY fireplace makeover helpful.  Let is know in the comments if you have any questions or have a fireplace that needs a makeover.

updated shiplap woodwork around an existing fireplace mantel and surround

Final image of how the wood trim turned out before it’s painted.

Be sure the come back for part two of how we painted the fireplace mantel and what color we chose!

See 25+ more inspiring fireplace makeovers here.

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