So last fall I showed you all our fabulous fireplace transformation! (check out the original posts here and here) I am still in love with it! The built-in shelves still give me trouble but I think that is due to my OCD and placement of decorative items in them. I also think I may be painting the back of the shelves the same color as the walls soon…maybe…
Anyway, back to the fireplace…I have received several questions about how we did this so I thought I would try to explain as best I can! Please comment here or e-mail me if I can explain anything further.
This is what we started with. (I know, I broke every single blogger rule and used my flash in these pictures. I know…) The mantel was way too little for this area and placed way too high. Conner’s requirement for our living room was that the TV had to be mounted. My requirement was that the seating arrangement had to face the fireplace. We combined the two and mounted the TV above the fireplace.
First, the old mantel was ripped off and our contractor built us a big new box. That is the best term for what I saw when I got home from work and the ‘box’ had been installed. It was MDF and HUGE! I had asked for a long and deep mantel but with nothing above it to balance it and the light colored wood, I was very scared. Like, so scared my contractor didn’t say anything for several minutes because he didn’t know what I was going to do. I controlled myself…I promise!
Since we didn’t want to live in gross cord city, an electrician came over and after our contractor removed several of the bricks, ran a power cord and cable cord* over to the side shelf where our cable box and DVD player would rest. This place was selected because there was already an outlet on this shelf.
Once these two steps were accomplished, we painted the top of the fireplace so we wouldn’t have to paint behind and around the TV once it was mounted.
*Noticed how I said ‘cable cord’? Yeah, with a high-def TV, you don’t use just a regular cable. You use an HDMI cable so the picture and sound are both played in high definition. With the old-school TVs, a cable cord and A/V cords were used for picture and sound. Neither our contractor nor our electrician thought of this before removing bricks and reinstalling them. Awesome. This is what we had to do that weekend to watch TV in our house. So, on Monday the electrician and contractor were back at our house to re-do the process and run the correct cords to the side shelf and into the TV.
There was one problem – the new cord that was running from the side shelf to the TV wasn’t long enough so we couldn’t move the TV and get it centered on the wall. Super annoying and very frustrating! So, Conner and my brother were going to take down the TV so we could install an HDMI outlet (just like a cable outlet except with millions of little fiber optic pieces – the cord runs behind the brick from the side shelf to the outlet and then a second cord plugs into the outlet and runs to your TV outlet) and then plug in a longer and better cord.
Word to the wise – think before you act! We forgot to unplug the cord before taking off the TV! AHHHH!!! You should have seen all three of us. No one was speaking. Everyone was so furious – but only at ourselves, not at each other. The end of the cord had snapped in half and there was no fixing it. While technology is awesome, it also sucks. The cord couldn’t simply be spliced back together like the old cable cords. The millions of tiny, little fiber optic pieces were ruined. Kaput. Crap.
So for the third time, the contractor and electrician came back out to remove bricks and run another $35 cable from the TV to the shelf. This time, they went ahead and installed an HDMI outlet on the fireplace so we could run a new six foot cord from the outlet to the TV and move it around with ease. This was a very happy day when the TV was finally up and working properly!
Once we had it all cleared up, the contractor ripped out the ugly brass fireplace cover and I was getting very happy with the progress! We found a new black screen at Lowe’s about two hours before our house warming party. Yes, we like to wait until the last minute 🙂
I also then went to town on the big, blank mantel. I took the frustrations from the TV and its high-maintenance cords out on the mantel and really dinged it up with a hammer. Then I used an electric sander (my favorite tool ever!) and rounded the edges and softened it all up. After I roughed him up, I wiped the dust and dirt off and got to work on staining. I used the darkest brown stain that Home Depot carried. I think I ended up putting three coats on. I used a nice sponge brush and after each coat was painted on, would let it sit to really soak in and then wipe off the excess with one of Conner’s old undershirts (the best rags ever!). I sealed it all with wax and immediately fell in love!!
Painting the brick was actually the easiest part of this. It was tedious to really dab the paint into the brick, but it was fairly quick and only required one coat of paint! The bookcases were annoying because it was such a small space to put your hand and paintbrush so there was paint everywhere! The original shelves were thrown away during the mantel demolition so our contractor built us new ones. They were much easier to paint while laying flat on a drop cloth!
A reminder of where we started on closing day. They had touched up the walls for us but you all know that when you ‘touch-up’ with old paint that has been sitting unused in the garage, it just doesn’t look right. Dark, dirty brick plus dark and old wood plus a tiny, under-sized mantel plus two-toned baseboards just weren’t working for us.
I love how it looks now!! Light, bright and modern. I am one happy girl! The headaches were huge but they were so worth it to get our TV mounted and looking great above the fireplace!
If I have left you with more questions, I’m so sorry! Please e-mail me or comment here and I will be more than happy to elaborate on anything and everything. I do hope this helped clear up how we got to our final product and the work and time that was involved.