Choosing a Mantel
Purchase a fireplace mantel. You can often pick them up at flea markets. Make sure that it is the right size for your room. You want to make it a focal point but you don’t want it to be over powering.
Finish it and stain it, if you want to keep its natural wood effect, or if you prefer a more modern look you can paint it. If you want to make it look a little more distinguished you can use unusual painting techniques such as distressing or marbling.
Once your mantel is ready fix it firmly to the wall with hidden brackets. If you can’t find one you like, here are some simple instructions to make one:
- large mending plates
- poplar timber
- table saw
- wood glue
- brad nails
- crown moulding
- 1/4″ plywood
- 220-grit sandpaper
- tack cloth or rags
- wood filler
Making Your Fireplace
- Cut the back top panel and the two side legs out of plywood to the desired size. Secure them together with mending plates on the back.
- Since the edges show, cut narrow pieces of poplar to cover them. To make the strips, select a piece of poplar that’s long enough and the same width as the plywood. Make several ¼ inch strips to be used on both sides and around the firebox opening. Cut the trim strips to length if necessary and use wood glue and finish nails to hold them in place.
- The second layer of the mantel is the arched detailing on the top and side legs made out of MDF (medium-density fibreboard). Draw the curve in the top piece and cut it out using a jigsaw. Sand the edges smooth and remove the dust with a tack cloth or damp rag. Put wood glue on the back of the panel; set it in position on top of the back top panel, and then secure it with nails.
- Cut the side legs and add them to the backboard. Mark their position, and then add glue and finish nails along the edge to secure them.
- The mantel is a 1×8 piece of poplar positioned to start at the edge of the backboard and overlap the front facing. Add details like crown moulding and trim on the legs to give the fireplace some personality.
- Cut a piece of plywood to fit where the firebox would be and attach it using glue and finish nails.
- Fill the holes with wood filling compound and sand the entire piece once dry. Prime, and then paint as desired.
Creating Some Depth
The next step is designing the space inside the fireplace. You can finish the interior either with a coat of dark high gloss paint (for depth) brick wall paper (for warmth) or with small ceramic tiles to give it an antique effect.
Accessorising Your Faux Fireplace
Make the fireplace the focal point of the room by hanging a large painting or wall mirror above the mantel. Don’t hang it too high or it will detract from the fireplace.
Avoid the temptation to clutter the mantel shelf with nick-knacks, keep it simple; just one or two items. Inside the fireplace stand candle holders with thick candles of different lengths to add elegance.