Retro-Modern Fireplace

We recently bought the “long-term home” and the time has come to update the fireplace. I could go on and on about how the original fireplace did not work with our style, so lets just skip all off that and get started on what we wanted instead. Because the fireplace isn’t the main focal point in the living room, we didn’t want to to make it grand or flashy. We decided to go with a retro-modern fireplace because it is clean and simple. Here’s what we did.

We started with a clean slate. We gutted the old out-of-datet tile fireplace, and brought it all the way down to the studs. Then we installed the new drywall because the old drywall was destroyed with the demo of the previous tile.

I built the panels to the size that we wanted out of cabinet grade Maple Ply, from Home Depot. They usually go for about $49.

When attaching the posts, I just used a 2×4 cap piece, screwed it into the whole stud, and then made sure it sat flush inside of my column on at-least one side. Then I secured it with a screw from that side and concealed the screw with wood putty.

Use the same approach for the top mantel column bridge.

I went with a chipped subway tile. It made it look a little more like a stone look than just a clean-edged subway tile.

Use the 3-4″ primed MDF to create the design pattern you wish your fireplace to have. I attached mine with a little wood glue and some brad nails.

Use wood filler to fill in all the brad nail holes and between the butt joints of the two pieces. Be sure to calk every piece with paintable calk. This will make the fireplace time look seamless.

Sand everything to 120 grit. Then primer, sand again with 120 grit (cut the raised grain), and paint with desired color.

Grout your tile. I used a Silver color by MAPE sanded grout. You don’t have to use sanded for this application, but I like sanded more. I feel it applies much easier.

Sand you current fireplace with 120 grit sanding pad/block.

Mask off the area. Usually you want to prime exposed, raw steel, but don’t worry about it in this application because we will be using a high temperature paint.

I used 2 cans of the Rostoleum high heat paint. This will prevent the paint to bubble up or chip when the fireplace goes from cool to really hot.

The first coat should be light to allow for good adhesion and to prevent runs.

Add another coat, and the paint is done.

The mantel beam is made up of 3/4″ Poplar wood. The left, center, and right pieces are mitered at 45 degrees, and then glued and brad nailed into place. The top and bottom pieces are just fitted to size and attached via glue and brad nails. Sand the piece to 120 grit.

For the stain, I brewed a pot of coffee and just used the grains with a bit of the coffee (for moisture) as a natural stain.

Apply 3-5 coats of the grounds with a rag, rubbing it in in a circular motion.

Once the piece dries with the “coffee stain”, simply use a clean rag and rub/wipe off the grounds while being sure to even out any heavy smears.

Install the to faux beam mantel in the same fashion as the posts. I used a 2×4 attached to the studs in the wall and attached the beam to it via long brad nails and glue. You can only accomplish it this way by making sure your beam sits flush and tight inside the 2×4, not needing screws to pull it together.

The finished product.


Here is the price breakdown…

Cabinet Paint & High Temp Paint-$25

Tile & grout: $60

Fireplace frame: $60

Faux Beam: $50

In total, this project cost me around $200.


“Roll your sleeves up and build.”


June 9, 2017