Join us on our journey to making this ugly-split level a home that we can learn to love, one DIY project at a time.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Living Room Update DIY fireplace

I have posted parts of my living room...But I have left out other parts. There are things about it that I do not like. For example my TV is positioned at an angle in the corner of the room near the front door and you can see the back of it slightly when you walk in from outside through the railing. I have not changed this for many years because I really REALLY like the way my photos are/were arranged behind the couch.

  If I moved the couch to the wall with the railing (literally the only other option) there would be no wall for my pictures. (Split-level problems!!) Over the years I have accepted loving half of my living room (the half with the couch on it), but within the last two weeks I have decided to change that.

  I want to love my entire living room and I want to feel like I am cozied up in a cottage whenever I take a seat and relax. This lead me to my next DIY project- a DIY fireplace! (Every cottage needs one!)

The fireplace (140.00):

I searched online everywhere for plans that fit my taste and finally I found one that was just the right amount of detail. This tutorial has everything you need to create this beaut- a cut list, step by step directions, and diagrams (This woman is a genius!). The only difference between our fire place and the one in this tutorial is the size. We scaled our fire place up because I wanted it to feel massive in my small living room.

Click her for the full tutorial
Total this project was about 150 DOLLARS - A deal when compared to buying an electric fire place at the store.

 AND without that fake glass screen with the fire light show, you can decorate the inside with birch wood or even candles for a REAL, granted smaller, fire.

Aside from the wood and the paint for this puppy, I spent money on the 'hearth.' I wanted this to feel as rustic as possible so I thought why not throw some stones at it. :) I found, at Walmart in the fall, discounted patio pavers. They were on sale for 24 cents a piece. After I measured the dimensions I would need to create a hearth for the fire place to sit on I ended up investing only about 10 bucks in patio pavers! That was CHEAPER that it would have been to buy another large piece of wood to use as the hearth (it would have had to have been the size of the mantle to look balanced which was around 17 dollars). And it makes it feel more real! BONUS!
The Hearth (10.00):

The paint job was a fun process. I was really afraid of distressing because I thought it would be hard, but it was seriously one of the easiest paint jobs I've ever done! I didn't even have to sand!! It took LITERALLY 2 hours to complete. I'm an instant gratification girl so I am all over that. So I heard about using wax or Vaseline for distressing from a neighbor and decided I'd give that technique a try (can't pass up projects that require less sanding) Here are the results:

Distressing with Vaseline:

1. Paint a base coat on bare wood- a color you want to show through when you sand. I chose Glidden Duo tintable tester 2 @ 2.99 in the color: Wild Truffle from Home Depot.
2. Rub Vaseline on all of the edges and places you want to have the under color show through.
3. Paint over everything with top color. I used left over white trim paint (Dutch Boy Dura Clean Latex kitchen, bath, and trim enamel in a semi-gloss). This is where something amazing happens. Without even sanding your piece will start to look distressed. The paint won't stick easily to the Vaseline and the way it dries over it LOOKS like natural distressing!
4. OPTIONAL: Use 300 grit sand paper to lightly sand over the edges or the places you want to see the color beneath. I did not do this, but am contemplating it.

I cannot wait to try this on more things!! Here are a few shots of the progression of the piece:
Well that's all for now folks! Coming soon: A barn wood framed TV project/ How to stain barn wood using two stains without the head ache of distressing and soaking over night (My husband figured this one out. That awesome guy!)


  1. I love your work so far! We also have an ugly split-level and I cannot wait until you show the lower-level of your house (my nemesis). Where did you get the side chair next to the fireplace?

  2. Thank you Melissa! The lower level is a mess right now! My husband has an obsession with fish and there are two tanks down there right now...I haven't quite figured out how to decorate around them yet. We did however put in a half of a french door to separate the space from the downstairs entry. I will upload pics soon! The chair was a Craigslist find. It was originally dark blue and I recovered it using a Pinterest tutorial and fabric from Joans. -Ash

  3. Love your house! Moving into a split level next month. Thanks for the inspiration! Where do you find all your greenery and vases?? Loving the hydrangeas :)

  4. I have to know how you did the bottom, are the pavers glued to the floor some how or just set there? Is this thing permenant or can it be moved? I also have a Split-level, the struggle is real girl! Keep on with these AMAZING projects!

    1. Haha, the struggle is real! The pavers are onthat nonslip rubber that you can buy in rolls. It's sold at Walmart andvused to line cabinets or keep rugs in place. Since putting it down we haven't had a problem with it moving. :)

  5. I love this!!!! How much larger did you scale your mantel from the tutorial? Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Thank you Lena! So to find the perfect size I actually drew it on my wall how I wanted it with a piece of chalk. Then we decided how tall to make it acording to the drawing. The Mantel is 16 inches in depth and 60 inches wide/across. Each "leg" is 12 inches wide (with 7.5 inches of wood centered over them).These pieces were already this width from the store so we did not have to cut them the long way (I don't think we have the saw or the skill to do that:) It is also 55 inches tall. Hope this helps!

  6. HI, I was wondering if you could tell me what size board you used for the top piece? I LOVE this mantle! Good job!

  7. This is exactly what I have been looking for! My split level has almost the exact same layout. I am so excited to start this room! I have hated my living room for the last five years! Thank you for sharing your talents!!

    1. Thank you! I am glad you found something that made you excited! Happy decorating!

    2. Thank you so much for the simple plans! My dad & I put it together in just a few hours. It's simply gorgeous! Thanks again!