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AirStone Fireplace and Mantel Makeover

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I have a before and after AirStone fireplace and mantel makeover transformation to show you. One that I am super excited to share with you.

Do you remember the post where I asked you what I should do with the top molding on a hutch top that I was discarding?

Fireplace mantel makeover using repurposed furniture

You are all so creative and gave me so many great ideas.  After lots of thought about what I should do…  this is what I did with it…..

AirStone fireplace makeover

… I created a floating mantel and placed it on a newly transformed fireplace wall that used to be brick and is now AirStone – which is a stacked stone perfect for home decorators and DIY’ers.

Both the mantel and the AirStone have completely changed the room. No more brick wall.

Here is what the what the fireplace looked like BEFORE:

Fireplace and mantel makeover using AirStone

An all brick wall and hearth with an opening for wood storage over on the left.


AirStone Fireplace makeover

I completed the makeover about 3 weeks ago.

It is one of the biggest projects I have taken on in a long time. It took me five dawn-to-dusk days to get it completed.

before and after fireplace makeover
My fireplace setup was full brick, no mantel. I envisioned a floating mantel over the brick.
before and after fireplace makeover

Mantel Build Out

First, we created a raised area — with three layers of two‐by‐fours — for the AirStone. We made four vertical rows of two‐by‐fours and then added horizontal studs in the center for extra support. Once the studs were in place, we covered them with plywood and then AirStone. We used a countersink drill bit so the screws sat flush.

drill screwing nail into board

We used ¼-inch-by-2½-inch blue masonry screws to attach the first layer of two-by-fours to the brick. To ensure these studs were secure, we used several screws for each stud.

If you’re copying this method, be sure to leave enough room between the fireplace opening and the studs on either side for the thickness of the AirStone. You’ll want the stone to meet with the edge of the brick when it’s in place.

before and after fireplace makeover

Once the first layer of two-by-fours is secure, we used 2½-inch wood screws to attach the second and third layer of two-by-fours. Be sure to mark where screws are placed so you know where not to place the screws for the next layer of two-by-fours.

We created six columns of two-by-fours, each with three layers. Then covered with plywood, but use firesafe Hardie Backer boards, attaching with 2-inch wood screws.

before and after fireplace makeover
before and after fireplace makeover

We removed the back of the mantel to make hanging it easier. It was screwed on, but we also added an angle iron on each side to make sure it was secure once we put it back together.

Since we planned for the mantel to float on top of the stone, we created a spacer behind the mantel to account for the thickness of the AirStone. We cut a pine board to size (about 2 inches smaller on all sides) and attached it. Then drilled holes in the back of the mantel and attached that.

before and after fireplace makeover
before and after fireplace makeover
before and after fireplace makeover

We cut two pine boards to fit the underside and top of the mantel. Notice you can’t see the spacer behind the mantel, so there is room to place stone behind it. This way you don’t need to place stone behind the entire mantel, just the ends.

Then we primed the plywood with latex primer and let it dry.

OPTION: If using plywood and not fireproof backer board around the firebox opening, cover the plywood sections around the fireplace opening with thin sheet metal, attach with nails or screws.  It is inexpensive and sold at the home improvement store. Then the area is ready to apply AirStone.

How to Apply AirStone

Applying AirStone is not hard, but does take time. I used a miter saw and a tile saw blade to cut the stones. I set up a work table on the deck outside my house and used a mask and protective eyewear.

AirStone is approved to use around fireplaces when the stone is 18 inches away from the flames.

I used the calculator on AirStone’s website to determine how many boxes of stone I needed.

The stones come in three different shapes — flat, natural edge and corner. I used flat and corner, as well as exterior adhesive since I was applying the stones over plywood.

If applying vertical planks over brick on either side of the fireplace, you’ll need to add these before putting the AirStone on so that the stone goes over the plank to create a nice finished edge where the wall and stone meet.

1. Allow AirStone to acclimate to the temperature in the house before laying it. It expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations.

2. Lay out the stones on the floor so you can see all the color variations. Space them out evenly as you build the fireplace front.

before and after fireplace makeover
3. I wanted a keystone look above the opening of the fireplace and attached the largest corner stones first. I applied the adhesive to the back of each stone and while it dried, I created a brace with two-by-fours so the stones would not slip while drying.
before and after fireplace makeover

I had to cut flat stones to fit on the underside of these stones to make sure all the plywood was completely covered.

4. Then I started on the bottom of one side and built up from there, checking with a level after each row.

before and after fireplace makeover

5. When I got to the mantel, I slid the stones behind the mantel as far as they would go (against the spacer). At the ceiling line, I had to cut the stone into thin pieces to fit the remaining space.

before and after fireplace makeover

6. I primed and painted the front of the brick hearth and the plywood planks I added over the brick. I used Liquid Nails to attach the planks to the brick.

AirStone cannot be used on the hearth, so I left the top of the hearth alone. I am still searching for slate in the right thickness to place on top of the brick hearth eventually.

before and after fireplace makeover

With a few accessories and some living greenery and flowers, it all came together beautifully.

Total Cost: $1,460

AirStone Fireplace Makeover. If you haven't used AirStone to transform a room or space in your home you are missing out on one great and easy product to work with. It can even be used on exteriors.


DIY fireplace and mantel makeover. This fireplace went from boring brick to wow by using a piece of repurposed furniture to create the floating mantel. | In My Own Style

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  1. Ok, I voted for your makeover and not only because I **know** you, but because I seriously thought it was the most attractive. Job very well done! (As usual)

  2. Diane, you are amazing! I have been wanting to make over our brick fireplace for years! We have been in our center hall colonial since 1990 when it was built. When I saw the airstone product at Lowes when it are out awhile ago I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the price and researched the ease of installation! You have given me my inspiration! Thank you for sharing such an awesome tutrorial! The hardest part for me is trying to figure out how to get my husband’s buy-in! I don’t necessarily need his help, but he prefers traditional simplicity, little change and tells me I can do home projects with my next husband! Hmmmm…time to play “lets make a deal”.

  3. I voted!! I haven’t been on my email for awhile. Moved, downsized, convention and life, just makes me busy!
    Anyway, the last time I was on your page was when you were teasing us about a secret project. I was giddy with excitement~lol.
    I ABSOLUTELY love what you did with the fireplace!! I just want to sit in that space and read!

  4. Diane, I voted for your fireplace makeover…and not just because I love you and your blog. It truly was the very most amazing “before and AFTER. I’m so enjoying following along with you and Ed on your gorgeous lake home transformation…great house bones, beautiful lake, and your good taste and ingenuity.

  5. Hi Diane,
    What an amazing project, where DO you get all your energy?!?!
    I read your blog all the time and I have to say this project just blew me away.
    And, yes, I did vote because this was just the best one. Good luck.

  6. Lots of hard work with a great result. I voted and will again. Yours is the best!

  7. Amazing transformation!! Interesting that the new dimension and depth of the wall gives the illusion of the room now seeming larger. Any plans to face the painted brick with wood trim…a la your inspiration photo…perhaps with planking to balance out the wall treatment? You get to do all the hard work while we wait for your updates. Thanks.

    1. Hi Cam – The room looks so much bigger now and now that I got the whole room painted white, it looks even bigger. :-) My plan was to cover the brick in front, but when I went to do it, I could not come up with a way to neatly seam the wood and the top bricks. The top bricks do not hang over so wood could neatly fit right under it to create a nice finished edge. For now I am going to leave it until I come up with a way to blend the top bricks with the front.

  8. DIANE!!! I LOVE IT!!! All of your hard work, it is fabulous !!!
    I have tried to vote for you but my server won’t let me open it!!!
    You are amazing!! Congratulations!!

    1. Hi Nancy – Thank you and thanks for trying to vote. I appreciate your attempt, but understand everyone has different settings, servers, and browsers that can cause blocks, etc. Readers from Canada can’t vote either. :-(

  9. Your mantel and wall transformation is beyond spectacular! And you re-purposed all that moulding! I voted for your before and after in the contest; you deserve to WIN! Your lake home is really coming along. Great job!

  10. That whole fireplace wall looks much better. It was just too long. Now it sure has class. Nice job!

  11. I am sitting here literally with my jaw dropped. It turned our BEAUTIFULLY! I know it was so much hard work and you must just keep walking in the room to look at it! I voted and will continue to do so. In all honesty, it is the best makeover on the site!

  12. I went with an open mind and voted for your mantel makeover without question. You did a great job, Diane! Good luck. ?

  13. Love the new fireplace and mantel. I just voted. Perhaps you could remind us each day? (I know, very high maintenance!)

  14. Love, love, love this! I voted and yours is clearly the best. It’s an amazing transformation!

  15. Exactly – it’s your vision that makes it so fabulous! Or yours and some of your readers – but I voted for your design, and I’d do it again!!

  16. Diane, this is an absolutely amazing transformation~~what a vision you had! I love that the fireplace and mantel are now the centerpiece of the wall. The AirStone looks terrific, as well as timeless, and the mantel is the icing on the cake…just perfection:) It’s a project that was definitely worth all the sore muscles.

    The crown moulding complements the mantel’s profile nicely, and the rattan chairs blend so well with these colors. I enjoyed reading about the process on Angie’s List. Will vote for you each and every day till the contest is over. Good luck!

  17. Wow, Diane, what a great makeover! It actually makes the room look bigger. I love it. You definitely got my vote!

  18. Love Love your fireplace makeover!! Never saw that coming. Your creativity always amazes me and your energy astounds!! Voted!!

  19. For some reason, I am not able to vote. I wonder if it because I only have a Kindle Fire? You must know I want to vote for you big time!

  20. Such a beautiful job! Love everything you are doing to your new lake house. Would love to try this for the ugly fireplace I currently have in our family room.

  21. Hands down, your makeover is the best!!!! I just love everything you do! You got my vote!

  22. What a transformation, Diane! It looks lovely. I can’t imagine ever having the confidence to tackle such a project; I am in awe. Good luck in the competition… Popping over to vote now. Sue x

  23. I know that brick wall was screaming at you to turn it into something stunning. You did a magical job and it looks fantastic. The entire wall now looks like it belongs in the room. I voted for you! Vikki in VA

  24. Aside from a sense of loyalty, I voted hands down, for your make-over. I sincerely and seriously think…….you’re gonna win! That is a total and beautiful transformation!!

  25. Absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I’m constantly telling clients to enhance the “spindly, narrow, ho-hum” mantels builders put on fireplaces sometimes. This is a superb example of how to do it right! Best of luck in the contest. Will vote for you!

  26. Diane! Your fireplace and mantel look phenomenal! I would never have thought the new one was a makeover of the old one, never. I love the simplicity of your new mantel and how the white of the mantel lives so naturally with the stacked stone. You never cease to amaze me with your style and creativity. BTW, I VOTED!!

    1. Thank you so much Judy XO – I will be posting how I added the vertical planks over the brick on either side of the stone soon. They really helped to create the entire new look.

  27. Diane, I was excited to see the new mantel but the AFTER photo doesn’t appear in the post. I can only see the BEFORE photo. Did something go wrong? I’m anticipating a great look!!

    1. Hi Kim – Thanks for telling me about the AFTER photo was missing. I must have deleted it by mistake when I was editing the post. It is back in the post.

  28. Absolutely a great makeover! The recycled mantle would have been enough to make a huge difference in this room, but to do all that stonework took it over the top! Even thought the previous brick had texture I love the modern take this stonework adds to the room. I just wish the pictures on Angie’s List were larger so the people voting can see all the detail. You blew the competition away!