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DIY Faux Fireplace

DIY Faux Fireplace

Sometimes you look at a blank wall and are hit with a realization - it needs a fireplace. Read on to find out how I installed a period-appropriate fireplace in our guest room!

This particular wall has puzzled me since we first purchased our home. It has a few challenging elements. It's large, it's between two doors, and it faces the main walkway through the room. The size of the wall begged for furniture to anchor it, but I couldn't find any pieces narrow enough for us to walk freely around. I stuck a blanket ladder and art on the wall, but one day it hit me - the wall needed a fireplace!

Before: art and a ladder

Finding the Perfect Fireplace

This DIY was heavily inspired by two other bloggers - Daniel Kanter's historic faux fireplace and Emily Cosnotti's One Room Challenge DIY mantle. Daniel installed a reclaimed historic mantle, while Emily built her own. I wasn't confident enough in my carpentry skills to build one myself, so I opted to search for the perfect antique mantle.

Finding a mantle with the right dimensions took months of patience! It had to be narrow enough to fit between the doors, and shallow enough to walk past easily (10 inches or less). I also wanted it to be historically accurate (1940s) and match the existing woodwork - a tall order!

I shared the adventure of finding the right mantle on my Instagram story...


Once I got the mantle home, I had to cut away the baseboards to I could mount the fireplace to the wall. Unfortunately, in the process of removing the baseboards, the walls were damaged. Our home has walls made of rock lath - basically early drywall with a coat of plaster on top. The nails from the baseboard has broken down the plaster over time. I repaired the plaster and was good to go!

Next up was dealing with that giant hole in the mantle! I took a page from Daniel's DIY tutorial and opted for a plaster effect. I cut a piece of drywall to be slightly larger than the hole in the mantle. I used a trowel to smear pre-mixed drywall compound over the piece, trying to mimic the look of plaster. When I was satisfied with the look, I gave it two coats of paint.

Next, I placed the piece of plastered drywall behind the mantle and screwed it into the wood from the back. From there, I used a rasping saw to cut a hole in the drywall the same size as my insert.

The final step was installing the insert. There are tons of antique fireplace inserts (either covers for coal fireplaces or electric inserts) for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji. I found this 1940s electric insert on Kijiji. I love the funky bulbs and copper backing! Unfortunately the wiring was fraying and not safe to use, so I simply cut it out of the insert to have it be strictly decorative.

There were holes in the corners of the insert from its previous installation, so all I needed to do was screw through those holes and into the drywall.

Et voila! Comment below with any questions.


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