The Great Fireplace Dilemma has finally ended. The main room in our home has been in some state of disarray for a while since I decided to dismantle the mantel long before I had a solid plan for the space. Side note: I might confuse mantel and mantle a few times in this post. Apparently, they’re among the few homonyms that I didn’t thoroughly study in fifth grade. The mantle is a layer of the Earth. A mantel is that ridiculous dilemma I’ve been having regarding my fireplace. To remove it: First, we scored around the outside of the mantel with a carpenter’s knife, so the paint wouldn’t peel too badly. Spoiler alert: Our paint peeled pretty badly anyways. We should have scored it better. We had A LOT of wall to repair after it came down. We also took the molding off of the fireplace. To save money and time, we decided to try to salvage the basic mantel and attempt to modernize it. I don’t have pictures of it, but we removed 5 inches from the top of it, so that our television wouldn’t sit so high.
Below is a picture of us planning out the placement of it. I read that your television should never be higher than your distance from it. I didn’t use that advice, since it means we could technically put our television 10 feet into the air. Instead, we used a much more scientific method… grocery bags taped to the height of the television. We actually sat and stared at them for a while to see if it bothered our necks. It didn’t, so we moved on…
The most expensive step in this project was hiring an electrician. We used the same company that fixed our bathroom outlet, and we received a hefty discount for using Angie’s List. That being said, it still cost us almost $400 to install an outlet above the fireplace. I feel almost sick saying that, because I know we could have used a $10 extension cord to wind across the room and plug in. However, we’re both perfectionists, and we wanted it to look clean and cordless.
It took a while to find the right spot for the outlet. Six giant holes later, we found it! I should also note (although we don’t have pictures of this step) that my husband carefully patched the holes. You can’t even tell they were there! One of my biggest pet peeves with wall patches is the smoothness of the wall (compared to a normal bumpy wall due to years of coats of paint). I was able to texture the smooth patch (and prime the surface at the same time) with an easy trick. I applied Zinsser’s water-based primer and sealer with a natural sponge. I applied two coats of the primer, although it only needed one. I wanted to be safe and have plenty of texture on the patch. You can see the grayish colored paint below and how it’s splotchy. That’s the primer. Once it was painted, you couldn’t find the patch. It was completely seamless and hidden.
The fun part of the whole project was actually getting the mantel together. I purchased some inexpensive trim at Home Depot to create a more modern look. The outer round edge is actually wooden railing for a staircase, and the inner round edge (white here) is two quarter-rounds stuck together to make a half round. We don’t own a miter saw, so we borrowed one from a friend (and used it as his house) to keep the price down. I chose to paint the entire piece in Benjamin’ Moore’s Onyx. I again chose to use the Aura line, simply because I love how smoothly it applies. It’s my absolute favorite paint, although it’s extremely expensive. I only use it for small projects.
For the top, we used a few pieces of pine boards to frame out the television. We simply made a rectangle around the television, and painted the boards and wall with the same Benjamin Moore Onyx paint. Since we’re city dwellers, we don’t have space for saws at home, so we cut this wood in the store.
Here you can see it being applied to the wall with the nail fun that we rented. We didn’t know how to make it flow into the ceiling. Luckily, we didn’t throw any of our scraps away from the original mantel. We discovered that a piece of the old mantel’s trim would work perfectly as crown molding for the ceiling…
…so we added it above the pine boards to finish off the top. We’re so glad we kept that piece! We still need to cut small pieces for the sides of the crown molding (which we have leftover from the original mantel). Never, EVER throw away scraps until you’re certain you won’t need them!
We got a great deal on the television mount. Many mounts were hundreds of dollars at big box stores. I searched around and found the BEST DEAL on Amazon. After reading the numerous reviews, I was sold. For less than $60, we got a very heavy duty mount that was relatively easy to install (we did it ourselves). We tested my weight on it, and it held fine. It also tilts in all directions and extends over 20″ from the wall! Can you tell that we really love our choice?
Here’s the finished room. The pictures are a bit dark, since I took these pictures in the evening. I do like how the television recedes into the dark wall. I found the grey velvet recliners on Craigslist for $80 total! They help even out the wall a bit and make it less noticeable that the fireplace is off-centered. Once I painted the fireplace black, I decided I hated my $2 pink front door, so I ended up painting it all black, as well, with my leftover paint. No pictures of it yet though.
One more before and after…