Fireplace project.

Putting this in Multimedia because of the pics. Feel free to move to a better place if need be.

So I just wanted to share with all of you what my wife and I have been working on for, oh, the past 10 months! LOL. We bought the house about 15 months ago, we pretty much didn’t mind the paint at first, or the fireplace that they capped and turned into gas.

OK, I lied, it was pretty heinous:

So paint is easy to change, which we did first. Also took down the paneling. My wife is pretty handy but really excels at going “hey this looks a little loose, let’s see what’s behind it”… Thus starting the beginning of the end. Hurray for the cold chisel and a 4lb mini sledge!

So we lived like that for 3 or 4 months while saving money and taking bids. Finally found a mason that was reasonable and actually called us back / kept us informed on what was going on. It was a damn miracle:

Brickwork came out well. On to another 3 or 4 months of saving and designing a mantle and custom built-ins for the space. Part of the design was a 47" LCD to be wall mounted. I was given a deadline of christmas so we could hang stockings. Naturally I waited until the end of october and realized the christmas deadline didn’t mean dec. 24 so I had to kick it into high gear.

Things were going well. Took a total of about 3 weekends + some extra hours on week nights to get everything done and painted. Finished product:

We couldn’t be happier with the outcome. We took our time with the mantle, hearth, and bookshelves and are quite proud of ourselves.

Some things we’ve learned from this project that others may be able to utilize:

Safety first! Both my wife and I have 10 fingers and toes left despite cutting 4x8 sheets of MDF on a 10" table saw with a crappy fence.

MDF is nasty shit! Sorry for swearing, but really the stuff is. I guess it’s a trade off as it paints really well and is somewhat more friendly to the environment. The dust it throws goes everywhere and it is really powdery and fine. It clogs shop vac filters instantly, seeps up through the bottom of hardwood floors and gives you the feeling of having asthma if you gut too much of it without a mask. I learned my lesson the first day when I woke up and felt a real tightness in my chest. I only hope the formaldehyde used in the binding agents preserves my lungs, lol.

Don’t be in a rush. We could have gone into debt and done everything in like 5 or 6 weeks. We didn’t want to do that. For us, it is better to step away from the project for a little bit too, as it got on my nerves and I would make stupid mistakes.

It always takes more time than you think. Had shelves in place and mounted, had what I thought was 5 or 6 hours more of paint and finish carpentry. Yeah, more like 20 more hours…

So there it is. Hope you enjoy. Any questions on the design / build, let me know. We built in some empty space / cavities for cable management so that everything is hidden. We also put 1/2 circle holes in the backs of each shelf for running lights or cables in the future if we need to. The mantle has 2 separate power outlets, so 4 plugs total for plugging in decorations or whatever. Made mostly from 3/4" MDF with some pine trim on the cut edges. Used pre-formed dentil moulding and fluted pilasters. Oak quarter round ties the new stuff in with the existing trim, and hides any gaps from an uneven 100 year old floor.


Sorry, this turned really long, but we used a glass tile for the hearth.


that is an awesome job you did on that.
it looks great


That looks great, almost like a restoration! perfect for the room…

yep, that’s what we were going for. We figure that sandstone stuff was pretty popular in the late 60’s / 70’s so just trying to get the house back to its roots.

Thanks for the kind words everyone! This was my first big carpentry project in about 4 years so it took a little while to knock the rust off, i.e. “why is everything I rip 1/8” short… oh, yeah, the blade numb nuts!"


I never understood the candles in the fireplace. I guess it’s a girl thing. Fireplaces are meant for fires!

yep, it was temp until we got wood. we burnt real fires all weekend and only smoked ourselves out once!

great job , I know the feeling of shit never ending. I definitly bite off more than I have time for. I got some form of project or another in nearly every room of the house haha.

It looks real good

that looks great!

looks great! …but why is the chair facing away from the tv?

there’s no room! lol! It’s a fairly average pittsburgh city/suburb house so it’s not big enough to face everything at the fireplace.

The TV is crooked. :smiley:

Looks great. Very nice job.

very nice

Great job bud!

I know, it has since been fixed! Never trust the levels that they put on wall mounts…

Looks very nice, where are you in Brentwood? My wife and I bought a house on Munsey in April. We’ve done so much work it’s rediculous…and from the pics your floorplan looks almost identical.

Thanks! we are on Greenlee, a little over a block up the street from Gorman’s pub. Every time we think we are a little ahead of the house, something comes up and we have to sink more money into it. It really sucks.

Welcome to the club. My wife has a list of things she wants me to do, and I swear it gets longer every task I finish. We can’t win.

True but you dont want to use the fire when you have a TV about it. The candles will provide light but not a ton of heat.

I have my 52" plasma mounted about my fireplace ( I turned the gas off so no one could turn it on). That looks really good though. Job well done, you should be proud.