a fireplace makeover {part one}

I’ve been holding out on you.

Last November we finally tackled our fireplace and gave it a makeover.

I completely love it.

Except like with most projects we do, indecision on the final detail set in and then life just kept going. Which brings us to today – seven months later – with a nearly completed fireplace makeover.

I was going to wait until the whole thing was finished and do a big TA DA! Before & After! but I’m thinking maybe some in-the-process photos are just as fun as the big reveal. And by posting this today, it will hopefully give me the motivation to get this last step finished so I can share the completed look {hopefully next week}.

First, let me remind you of what our fireplace has looked like for the past six years.

Except pretend the tv is not there because it only lived up there for a few months before we came to our senses and realized that it was way to huge and obnoxious to hang front and center in our main living room.

A few things about the fireplace:

It was fine.

But we never could understand the little notches on either side, or the niche in the center and we didn’t like the tile surround. The mantle was fine, maybe a little more detailed than I would choose, but it looked a bit funky with all those extra corners on the dry wall.

We brainstormed for months about what to do to make the fireplace either stand out and become the focal point of the room, or blend in and simplify things.


Finally, one day last November, with our brothers and sisters-in-laws over for a leisurely saturday afternoon, we decided on a whim to just tear the fireplace apart. Don’t worry – we had a plan – but we didn’t know until that afternoon that we were actually going to do that plan.


Down came the mantle.


Out came the tile. The guys decided it was just easier to cut the tile out and re-drywall. Pulling off the tile would have damaged the drywall so much they probably would have had to replace it anyway.


We already put the two built-ins on either side of the fireplace, and we just wanted a chunky, clean mantle to run across the fireplace visually joining all three sections together. Ryan built a simple box, then added a top piece and trimmed it out with pre-made molding.


Nothing fancy, but it gave us the substantial mantle we wanted.

Next came the kinda crazy part: we decided to wrap the top portion of the fireplace wall with cedar shingles. We were thinking we’d do wide horizontal planks, but when our friend suggested shingles, we both instantly loved the idea.  It’s totally unexpected, adds lots of texture, but still remains slightly neutral and gives us a sort of cottagy/outdoorsy look.

Random, for sure, but this room needed something interesting.

To get started, Ryan attached cedar strips of wood {lath} directly to the wall where the shingles would be nailed in.


Once those were up along one side, we couldn’t help ourselves and started nailing in a few shingles just to make sure we loved it.


{this was day two. Ryan’s brother & sister-in-law went home, my aunt & uncle came over. It was a revolving door of helpers}.

Yes! Love! So they kept going … filling in that terrible niche and wrapping the chimney with those little boards.


Later that night when family had gone home, a few neighbor friends stopped by to see the progress and we somehow talked them into helping.


These final three worked late into the evening and finished up the shingles. I’m not exactly sure what their system was, but they were quick. I think we had two compressors and two nail guns going at a time.


When we decided to go with shingles, Ryan jokingly suggested mounting an elk head and I thought it was a brilliant idea. He was so shocked, he ordered one right away before I could change my mind.


The stag head came from Restoration Hardware and is resin that looks like cast iron.


We were so excited with how it turned out.

Once the shingles were up, we had to decide what to do with the fireplace surround.

        I’ll call that Fireplace Makeover part two.  Stay tuned …

47 Responses to a fireplace makeover {part one}

  1. Summer December 15, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    I L-O-V-E, love this! What type of cedar shingles did you use. White or red? Does it really matter if they are going to be stained anyway?

  2. Jayhox May 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Where did you get the faux antlers?

    • emily May 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

      they are from restoration hardware.

  3. Suzzi June 18, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    I love it. I have the same height, but ours has a pellet stove. Anyways, I’ve seen those shingles done on the inside of “Good Luck Charlie” and always liked the idea. Now, this. Whooo wah. Showing hubby tonight.

    My question is about the molding along the paint line (I also have that – but done before I found you and I have the bigger portion of paint below). Digress, sorry, my question is what type is it? Thanks for the time.

  4. Emily U June 17, 2013 at 6:33 am #

    It looks fantastic! And congrats to you on having the courage to make such a big change. Don’t know if I would have been that brave.

  5. Kelly June 16, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    Also, when/if you get sick of the shingles, the wood underneath the shingles is a pretty cool design. I like the lattice looking design in the alcove.

  6. Kelly June 16, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    Oh my gosh! I LOVE it!! Love, Love, Love!! It looks great! What a brilliant idea…I would have never thought of shingles for inside the house. You’re right, it’s unexpected and makes it really standout in the best way! Great job! Can’t wait to see part two!

  7. Estelle June 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    You’re so inspiring! I love that you think outside of the box and don’t follow the norm when decorating your home!!!

  8. victoria June 15, 2013 at 10:35 am #

    Gorgeous! Very PNW. . . . let me know when you are ready for an antler or two!

  9. jami nato June 15, 2013 at 6:02 am #

    that’s so SICK. in a good way. like a really amazing way.

  10. pve June 15, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    Santa will love this!

  11. christian June 14, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    hey! i know that beard! hi eric =] he definitely has a knack for awesome projects. i actually really like resin head… totally works.

  12. Angela Alwine June 14, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    I’ll be honest…I think I like the planking idea better. But yay for taking risks that can be reversed, and doing what works for YOU.

  13. Gretchen June 14, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this fun makeover!!! cant wait to see more! You are SO blame creative!!

  14. Erin Billups June 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    What I love most is you respond to everyone not just the ones that love what you do. Your sweetness shines through and that’s why I read! We just built a new house and the fireplace is so expected. Not quite sure what we will do yet, but this is an awesome and unique idea! Looks great.

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Thanks Erin!

  15. Julie D. June 14, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Oh my word! Loooove it! Would have never thought to do shingles…but it so works! Amazing!

  16. asia@ itsanorganizedchaos.com June 14, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    i love hoe I wrote ‘it’s grown on me’ like I have a say.

  17. asia@ itsanorganizedchaos.com June 14, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    at first I was like no…but I was at the DMV so I stalked this post a lot, and well it’s grown on me, its really nice.

  18. Clementine June 14, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    WOW! I’m absolutely in love with this. I can’t wait to see part two!

  19. Lisa June 14, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    It looks amazing, Emily!!! I love the texture it brings to the space, and the clean boxed in look of the new mantle! Wow – great and creative idea!

  20. Maureen June 14, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Does the room smell like cedar?

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      It did initially, but no longer.

  21. Lissy June 14, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Love the shingles!! It really warms up the room and I love the texture it adds to the space! They are so nice in their natural color and I think they would also look so pretty white-washed to have a weathered greyed look:)

  22. Shan June 14, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    I really enjoy your Ideas and style for your home. I was wondering where you do keep your tv? We are about to upgrade to the big flat screen, and I can’t seem to figure out how to blend it in and don’t want to put it over our fireplace.

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 8:54 am #

      For football season, we put the tv along the right wall perpendicular to the fireplace. It was just a temporary solution {it sat on a long desk} so that we could host playoff/superbowl parties and watch the games all together. We do not watch a ton of tv, so now the tv is in our upstairs bonus room. We have a small tv that we may put in our kitchen over the fridge just to have it available, but for the most part, tv watching is done upstairs. I’ll take photos.

  23. kimberly oyler June 14, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    you guys are so gutsy! i would never be able to talk myself into doing this! but i love the way it turned out!

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 8:55 am #

      I kinda love house projects and love that Ryan is so handy. This one was fun for us and it gives our home a little more personality. It’s not for everyone, certainly, but it makes us happy.

  24. Gwendolyn June 14, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    i really enjoy when you share home updates! we often get sneak peaks through instagram, that leave me curious. :) you have great design sense, emily!

  25. Bryana June 14, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    I really love it – so beautiful and unexpected. And I love that it’s raw wood. These days, everything gets painted so its nice to see some raw wood here and there. Does it smell amazing?

  26. Yvonne June 14, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    The shingles add an awesome outdoor touch. Love the Elk head too!
    I look forward to part 2~

    Keep up the great work!

  27. Sarah Barksdale Design June 14, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    It looks great! I am so impressed that you did all of it yourself, Ryan is so handy! great job

  28. Diane June 14, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Sorry, I liked your fireplace the way it was. I understand about not liking the niche – but you could have just filled that in and be done with it. I think your shingles do not do your house justice and will look dated very quickly.

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      You are probably right – the fireplace will look dated years from now or we will grow tired of the shingles … but it will be so easy to remove the shingles and the lath and just re-drywall the chimney. It’s what we were going to do to begin with, so we’ll just call this an intermittent decorating risk.

  29. Janna June 14, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    Wow! The shingles are such an awesome(unexpected)look! So great!

  30. Jeana June 14, 2013 at 7:54 am #


  31. Rachel June 14, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    I am so glad to see the elk head. I have had a bear head on our stone fireplace for three years and we love it! His name is rocky and he’s part of our family. I can’t wait to see the rest of the reveal. Especially what you did with the tv. So many people couldn’t believe we would hang a bear head and not a tv on Our fireplace, but my hubs didn’t want to look up to watch tv. You have a great team of helpers. Awesome progress so far!

  32. Lindsay June 14, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    Ahhh, genius idea!! Love the way it turned out, and especially love the cottage-y feel!!

  33. Tonia June 14, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    I vaguely remember a photo (maybe around Super Bowl time) of you next to a fireplace and I emailed my friend & said “I think Emily (as if you are our neighbor), added stone to her fireplace” — ha! I am wondering if that is still to come in this reveal?? We must be complete stalkers, if we notice when 1/8 of a photo shows a change in your home & we take note! Ha! It looks great so far! Thanks for sharing!

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 7:44 am #

      Good eye! It’s coming …

  34. Elise June 14, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    That must be the Pacific-Northwest-iest fireplace I’ve ever seen, and it’s PERFECT! So original and absolutely the right way to go in that space. I love it!

  35. melissa June 14, 2013 at 6:31 am #

    LOVE!!! I began reading your blog a few years ago after seeing photos of your home! It looks great….although I can’t help wondering what other changes you’ve made lately…How exciting!!!

    • emily June 14, 2013 at 7:46 am #

      We are always making changes to our house – mostly just rearranging furniture, but there’s always something brewing! I’m going to do a better job of showing ‘in the process’ photos rather than the finished results. Mostly because those finished results seem to never come :)

  36. Dana June 14, 2013 at 6:22 am #

    Super fun! Glad you decided to share the progress shots. Looking forward to seeing it finished. I love originality!

  37. Shelley | Crazy Wonderful June 14, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    I’ll admit I couldn’t picture it at first, but wow – you completely blew me away at the end! What an awesome and completely unexpected fireplace! I love it :)

  38. Jenny@EvolutionofStyle June 14, 2013 at 4:45 am #

    Love it! Our fireplace makeover is moving in the opposite direction, as we have changed our mind on how we want to do it, so it’s in a demolicious state right now. Suffice to say, my two boys have both made the comment ‘Didn’t you start that project in December?’. Not good.

  39. tricia June 14, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    I would have never thought of using shingles, but love them! How brave of you to just jump in like that.

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