Changing the Fireplace Area… Again

As I mentioned in my Sunday post, I would be sharing a bit about two of the decorating projects I am working on this summer.

For today’s post the project is once again changing the way the fireplace and mantel in my living room look. If you are a long time reader, you know this area has undergone quite a few changes over the 9 years we have lived in the house.

Later this week, I will share another room, one that is going to get a stylish addition.

For now, back to the living room fireplace and mantel. Of all the spaces in my home, this is the space that has undergone the most changes. I realize that most people would not change this space nearly as much as I have.

There are two reasons why I keep changing it. The first boils down to the fact that I always have ideas and don’t hesitate to try them out. I am a DIY’er who enjoys seeing ideas come to life.

I picked up this trait when I worked in retail display where I had to change the displays all around the department store I worked in on a weekly basis.

Sometimes the changes were easy to do, such as swapping out merchandise or hanging new signage. Most of the time though, it involved lots of resourcefulness, paint, fabric, a staple gun and creativity.

The second reason the fireplace area has undergone changes is that we needed to dismantle the stone fireplace surround we built. It was the first big project we did when we first moved into the house.

We found out that we didn’t use the correct backer board under the stones, hence a fire hazard. We also placed the mantel too low. Our town’s code requires it to be 10″ above the fireplace opening. We didn’t want any problems so we tore it out. Doing this left me back to square one… which was a plain brick wall.

Many readers thought I would be upset about having to remove the stone fireplace surround, but it didn’t bother me at all. In fact the living room looks much bigger and brighter without it.

Fireplace & Mantel Timeline

Here are a few photos to show you the changes over time.

Brick wall with wood book shelves

This is how the fireplace wall looked when we first moved into the house. We removed the shelving and lived with the empty wall for a few weeks.


I got an idea on how to create a mantel for the plain fireplace when we took apart the hutch that was in the dining room of our previous home. Since we had no place to put it in the lake house and no one wanted it, we took it apart to easily dispose of it.

furniture repurposing idea

In doing so, we realized the top crown molding section came off with screws. When I held it up, it looked like a mantel. And that is what it became.

Display family pictures wall ideas in a foyer.

The cabinet section of the hutch got repurposed into a foyer sideboard.

Fireplace Change #1

Brick fireplace wall makeover using vertical wood planking

This photo shows how we built out the surround and covered the brick with vertical panels. You can see the hutch crown molding hanging on the base of the surround.

Airstone fireplace in living room with glossy white trim and vertical panels to accent on either side

This is how the vertical wall planking looked that covered the brick and the completed stone fireplace and mantel. I had painted the bottom hearth section of the bricks white.

Stone fireplace with white mantel. Pink flowers in fireplace. Greenery clippings in wood planter on top of mantel.

It stayed like this for more than 6 years.

Stone surround around fireplace being removed

Three years ago we found out that it could be a fire hazard, we removed it. Doing so didn’t cause any damage to the brick wall underneath besides a few screw holes that we filled in.

3 fur throw blankets hung on a wall mounted blanket holder.

The only thing I miss about the stone fireplace wall was that I lost the throw blanket holder I made. I really liked how this looked and used it every day.

Fireplace Change #2

fireplace wall getting a coat of white paint

Once the stone fireplace surround, throw blanket rack and vertical planking were removed from the wall, I painted the brick white.

Summer decorated living room and fireplace screen cover on wall.

After painting it, I didn’t have any ideas for the wall so I just covered the fireplace and firewood storage openings with folding screens. The paneled green screen I had and the smaller folding screen covering the fireplace I made by repurposing a sewing pattern cutting board.


I then found a piece of reclaimed wood in the garage that I didn’t know we still had. It just happened to be the right size to create a rustic mantel and I went with it.

Two wood panels from the sides of a old wood file cabinet made into a fireplace cover.

To hide the fireplace opening when not in use, I made a screen out of the side panels of an old wood filing cabinet my neighbor was throwing away.

I decided to stain it to match the mantel.

faux brick paneling is used to cover up a firewood storage area for the summer on a brick accent wall in a living room.

I was happy with this for awhile. I even created a cover for the firewood storage opening on the left of the wall using a piece of faux brick paneling and texture paint so it would look as seamless as possible.

View of reclaimed wood fireplace mantel with black photos frames on top.

After having the rustic mantel and cover up for awhile, I found I didn’t like the stained wood look anymore and removed it all from the wall.

In the Process of Change #3

Now back to the present day and what I am currently doing to the fireplace and wall.

face on view of a white brick fireplace wall and mantel without anything on it.

I saved the white hutch mantel and decided to put it back on the wall. Once that was in place again at the proper height this time, I painted the stained wood screen. I first coated it with KILZ stain blocking primer. Once 2 coats of that were dry I used Sherwin Williams Pure White in semi-gloss to paint it.

side view of a white brick fireplace wall and mantel without anything on it.

Since the two-panel screen was slightly smaller than the width of the opening, I attached a 1″ x 2″ board to each side to make the screen wider to completely cover the opening.

It is not attached to the wall, but fits snuggly under the mantel.

Decorating with pops of bright colors in the guest room-

Now for the fun part. I am repurposing one of the art canvases that previously hung in the colorful guest room. Like the hutch mantel, I am glad I saved the canvases I used as I am going to do something with the blue one, something I have never done before.

I will never be a fine artist, nor do I have the desire to become one. I do however feel a piece of colorful art above the mantel is needed and haven’t found anything that will fit or that I like. When this happens I know I will have to DIY what I am envisioning.

art canvas with painted pink flowers in a green and teal vase by Jennifer Paganelli.
Artwork by Jennifer Paganelli

And this is what I am envisioning to paint on the canvas. This piece from Jennifer Paganelli is my inspiration. I like the layered brush strokes she uses and the cheery pinks and greens.

I have the paints and supplies and am going to go for it. I figure if I don’t like what I paint, I can roll over it with blue paint and start again until I like what I see.

face on view of a white brick fireplace wall and mantel without anything on it.

As soon as I get it done and hung on the wall I will share it with you. For now you will just need to try to envision what I see… so stayed tuned.

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  1. I like the simplicity of the painted brick.

  2. Really enjoyed this walk down memory lane. I had no idea that it had already so many years since you moved in! I love the white panels and the blue canvas. I’m sure the painting will be even more stunning.

  3. I love the changes you made and can hardly wait to see your finished painting. You always do amazing things so I’m sure this painting will be the same–beautiful and original.
    The only thing I find distracting is the wood storage area. The current attached piece looks like an afterthought. Could you remove it and paint the wood storage area and put something in there–shelves, pottery, etc. Or, as the woman below said a faux wood stack. I look forward to seeing your finished fireplace. I know it will be amazing.

  4. Fun keeping up with all the changes over the years. We evolve 💜. Can’t wait to see the finished project!!

  5. Hey Diane! Quick question: How did you attach the mantles to the brick? I have a ‘slumpstone’ fireplace surround (it is somewhat like cinderblock) and need assistance with adding a mantle. Great redo also!

  6. My favorite fireplace diy you’ve done (so far). The all white fireplace gives my eye a place to rest. The screens and wood stains broke up the lines of the fireplace, which distracted eyes from seeing it as a whole, if that makes sense.

  7. Hello
    DH & i are moving to an older home that has a full wall of dark brick & concrete mantle. I want to change it asap & your ideas are inspirational. Thanks so much!

  8. I love all of your ideas, but I’m curious. Do you not ever use the fireplace?

  9. I love, love, love your inspiration piece! Can’t wait to see it.

  10. I like these changes, Diane! Very true to your white and woodsy scheme. Have you ever thought about putting one of these faux fire log inserts in your wood storage section? Do you know what I mean? It looks logs stacked up, but it’s just the ends of logs glued to a backer board? That might be a great look for that opening.