Our fireplace & built in shelving project is coming to a close, there are just a few small finishing details that need to be completed but nothing significant enough to stop me from sharing this view! Today I’m going to walk you through everything we did to renovate this formerly drab space. If you’re new to this project, go catch the introduction to this space here.
The very first thing we did was meet with our contractor who has already done a lot of work in our house already, which is always nice because we were very familiar with his quality and work product and really wanted him to take this job. We met with him and proposed our ideas: built-in shelving, flush TV, & modern mantle. IF you’re planning to start project like this, or anything really, in your home, I definitely recommend coming prepared to the initial meeting. Contractors aren’t designers and typically need a final design to execute against, and if you don’t have your design somewhat figured out before meeting with a contractor, chances are your project will take longer and potentially cost you more $. Coming prepared to the initial meeting also helps the contractor write up an accurate bid, project out more accurate labor and materials costs, and really gain a clear understanding of what you as the client are looking for so he can deliver without errors or changes.
I had sketches and drawings to share, but actually the most helpful item I shared was a quick 3D plan I did using IKEA’s Home Planner. It’s free and so easy to use, and an excellent option for the average homeowner to translate the finishing product into a visual design. Also, we were using SEKTION base cabinets for the built in shelving, so using IKEA’s Home Planner just made sense since we were using one of their products. Oh, the big black thing below will be our built in pantry – more on that soon!
Day one of demo began with removing the brick facade off our old fireplace. They were in pretty bad shape, so our contractor rebuilt them using more durable materials.
Much, much better! The next step was framing out the interior of the extended firebox & wall. We extended this section forward about 18″ finished into the living room, which is how we got the shelving to look built in.
One of the tricky parts of this project was the recessed cubby behind the TV. We wanted our TV to be flush with the wall, and planned for all electrical, HDMI, & TV mount to be built behind the TV inside this cubby. For extra strength when hanging the TV, our contractor laid flat studs which would be used to mount the TV. Laying them flat added extra strength, if that makes sense, not really sure how better to explain that..
The next step was laying the drywall over the studs. You can see better how the cubby was coming together below. We added one more electrical outlet to the bottom left of the cubby, not yet pictured. OH! One very important thing we did was add a PVC pipe as a tunnel behind the right most outlet of the cubby, which feeds down behind the wall into the lower right cabinet. We did this so we could use our Playstation and other TV electronics but hide them inside our cabinet without seeing cords. We chose a PVC pipe because it is wide enough to feed a bunch of cords. I think we currently have 4 HDMI cables going through it right now!
Once all the drywall was up, our contractor taped & mudded the seams to smooth everything out. This happened to be a great time to figure out the exact measurements of the mantel and stone surround. Surprisingly, we spent a lot of time figuring this part out! I wanted the mantel and surround to take up the space as 50/50 as possible. I was somewhat restricted by how tall we could make the mantle due to the size of the TV + sound bar my husband wanted to use. The tops of both the mantel and stone ended up slightly smaller than the sides… hopefully you’re still with me! Measurements are totally boring, I know, but in case you were curious, we were able to get the sides to be 13″ each mantel & stone, and the top 12″ each mantle & stone.
The next phase was laying the MDF sheets on top of the drywall. We chose MDF because it is smooth and would give us a clean seamless finish. You could also use plywood sheets here, but that would have been a lot more expensive for essentially the same look.
After all the MDF was up, our contractor puddied and sanded all seams and nail holes. You can really start to see it take shape here!
Constructing the mantel was probably the thing that surprised me the most. Our contractor made our mantle from scratch, using about a sheet and a half of MDF, and trim! That’s it! Our mantle materials cost us less than $100 yet looks so much more expensive.
We went to our local moulding shop to pick out the mantel trim. We were overwhelmed with the selection, this was just one of the walls of trim we had to choose from.
We spent some time testing out trim combinations. I wanted something fairly simple and clean, not too ornate. We decided on the combination below: 1/8″ MDF top piece (recessed roughly a 1/4″ from the edge) + front edge trim + lower 90-degree curved trim.
Below is how the mantel trim looks finished. We had the finished trim return into the shelves so you could see the trim from the side view.
Everything got 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint, with lots of sanding between each coat. We painted everything in Benjamin Moore Super White.
Let’s talk about the stone next time, this post is already long enough! Feel free to drop any questions about this project in the comments below.