Monday, October 19, 2009

~ Building a Faux Fireplace


I have a soft spot of Euro antiques. Usually they are not in my price range, but sometimes I get lucky.

The thought of something special traveling such a far distance from a European country and then somehow finding its way here to the states is always a tale that warms my heart. I understand those who prefer their treasures from the past from our country as well. It's just that I have a love for the ones from across the pond.

I only have a few... Irish, French, English & Italian treasures ... a couple of Minton tiles, some dishes, a chandelier, a table & cupboard, and this fireplace mantel that was destined to satisfied my longing for having a fireplace in the living room.

A fireplace is one of the most important design elements that you can add to a room for beauty and warmth. The architectural statement of a fireplace is loved and desired by most people when seeking a home. But there was no real need for a working fireplace in my living room. We have a nice large one in the family room where the television is. And it is fired up often from the time the temperature goes all the way down to about 50* for the first time each year until Spring when it warms up again.

I never lived in a house with a fireplace before this one, so I'm making up for lost time. If the rooms were larger, I would be tempted to have one in each bedroom or bathroom as well.

The antique insert was in excellent condition. The dealer had completely restored it. Although the gray was not what I needed, it was the perfect base to build on.

The first thing I did was paint most of it white, and part black to accentuate the half-round opening.

I probably had a hundred pictures saved of fireplaces and I could easily have 10 or so in one house just to implement the designs that I love. The look of French and Italian fireplaces still is the most beautiful to me, and I have never tired of this one. It makes me sad to image one day someone will move in my house and might want a mid century modern look, and rip it out.

I began the design around the antique piece we purchased at Renninger's, and all the dozens of pictures I had accumulated. If you are not very handy with miter cuts and measuring, you could have a trim carpenter (or a great husband) match pictures that you might be saving. Sweet Hubby did all the work for me. He not only did a beautiful job with it, but enjoyed it as well.

It is the mix of the details that exist on the original antique piece, the added plaster and resin elements and all the moldings that makes this so beautiful. We added moldings to blend all these different elements into one design.

He built a box above the mantel with angels to mimic the ones I found from France and Italy. In order to add to the realism, we made it so that it came out from the wall a little bit, although it would be more realistic if it was thicker. I just didn't have the floorspace to spare.

You can see that the top of the mantel is cut with a curved design.

The plywood above the fireplace was covered
with layers of drywall mud to give
a stucco/stone effect.
Then it was primed and
painted in a Faux Stone finish.

This is a close up of the
details on the original piece
where it is painted white
then antiqued.

The inside of the firebox is a small piece of plywood
painted like a gray brick.
I found a metal "scrollie thing" that I painted black
and used some "rub-n-buff on the details of it.
This was fitted on the inside of the opening.


The larger corbels are resin, again painted
to an aged, antiqued white look.


Detail shot of the bottom.
Shows the mix of wood moldings
wood boxes, and resin pieces.

The beautiful piece in the center is plaster.
Painted & Antiqued for an aged look.

Hope you enjoyed this one!
See Y'all Soon!!


  1. Wow, Donna! You and your hubby did a fantastic job with this! The detail is amazing and that is probably why I like the look of European fireplaces. I understand what you are saying about fireplaces ~ we have two in my current home {great room and den} and we do use them both. I can only hope that when we eventually down-size I can have at least one.

  2. Oh my, this is stunning. What a gorgeous fireplace. I just love it. Hugs, Marty

  3. I love it! It's so elegant and just gorgeous!

  4. It really is just gorgeous! You'd never know it wasn't real. The one thing I'm missing in this house is a real fireplace (I have a faux one). I almost had one put in about 8 years ago but didn't want to give up the floor space in the living room. But now I wish I had!


  5. All I can say is OUTSTANDING AND WOW!! Sincerely, Jeannette

  6. Whoa! It's gorgeous! The most beautiful I've ever seen. Great job. I just love it!

    Roeshel :)

  7. What an absolutely gorgeous faux fireplace!! It looks hundreds of years old! My what an awesome job!

  8. That fireplace is just absolutely gorgeous! What wonderful job you and your husband did...and anyone would be crazy to rip it out in the future. I couldn't imagine that!

  9. That is amazing! I didn't realize you did all that work to make it look so stunning.

  10. Wow, how beautiful! Absolutely gorgeous.


  11. I've always loved this gorgeous fireplace, Donna, from the first time I saw it!

  12. Hi ! I'm sorry I didnt get to meet you at mount dora, our botth was tucked in the back at gate 3. I love your blog, it's gorgeous! Hugs, Kimberly


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