Faux Fireplace, on the Cheap!

Ideas on making faux fireplaces for the budget impaired!

By Kathleen Wilson

Does the coming winter chill remind you how much you miss the basic element of fire to warm those long nights? Unfortunately, your home’s builder wasn’t the romantic you are, and you have no fireplace. Never fear, The Budget Decorator is here! Ok, so that’s corny, but this project sure isn’t!

The first thing to do is to determine what element you want your fireplace to be made of. A lot of this depends on the formality of your room, and the style of fireplace you choose to make. Paint, tiles, faux bricks, wood molding and plywood, scrap beadboard, it goes on as far as your creativity.

Next, you’ll need to determine how much labor you want to put into the construction. The options range from a flat front “tromp loeil” style fireplace, to a wooden construction of an actual fireplace box and mantle.

Suggestions to get you started:

Faux Stone Fireplace

Mask off the entire area of the fireplace, and paint it a background color-this will be your grout color. Mask off an area that will be the firebox, paint it a matte black color. Take an ordinary household sponge and tear it into several different size irregular pieces, simulating pieces of rock or stone. In a paper plate, pour three earth tone colors of craft paint. Dab the sponge into the paint colors, dont worry about them mixing some, dab off the extra paint so it doesn’t run, then “stamp”stones onto the fireplace background. Continue to alternate sponge sizes, leaving some space between stones for a natural masonry look. Alternatively, if you have access to many smaller stones, how about glueing the stones right to the painted background! Add a mantle;a simple pine shelf will do.Be sure to accessorize the mantle with personal photos, and most importantly, candles! Candles give the impression of fire, and the mantle and firebox complete the illusion. This would be a great choice for an informal rustic space.

Faux Tile Fireplace

Seen those cool contemporary ceramic or stone tiled fireplaces? Easy to do. Same concept as above, except slightly more formal. You could either mask off the tiles with ΒΌ inch masking tape,and paint them, or if you can get some castoff tiles, you can glue on the real thing. I did mine with leftover faux marble self stick tiles from a floor project, and plain white ceramic tiles are pretty cheap.Hint: If you use self stick tiles, reinforce the adhesive with a glue gun! A flooring store might even have some discontinued tiles they would let you have for free.
Looseends.com sells paper mache stones and brick, although I don’t find them particularly cheap, they are excellent quality, and might be worth it. Or, you could try your hand at making your own. Finish off the fireplace edge and firebox with some cheap wood molding, even lathing strip, and add a mantle!

Classic Faux Fireplace

For the labor loving decorator, you could even construct an actual wood box, the most realistic of the choices! Since I don’t pretend to be even a weekend woodworker, try the plans on discovery daytime (www.discovery.com) from The Christopher Lowell Show.

So, now, I know what I’m doing for the cold nights this coming winter!

Kathy Wilson is an author, columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator. For hundreds of free budget decorating ideas and to sign up for her free newsletter and ebook, visit her at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com

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