Upcycled Mantel to Faux Fireplace
As a home renter, we’re unable to make permanent changes. Craving the ambiance of a fireplace, I upcycled an old oak mantel found on Craigslist into a freestanding (portable) faux one, measuring a healthy 72x56x13. Armed with research, wood and supplies, we increased the mantel surround's narrow depth from 2” to 8" using 1x6 pine, and added new wood to the mantel top, bringing it to 13" from its original 6”. Using 1x2s, we attached Wonderboard Lite as backing for the planned tile. Then built a plywood firebox with a 36x36 opening, secured with brackets, and attached it inside the fireplace. Set on a base comprised of 13x13 porcelain tiles trimmed with quarter round, we installed two L-brackets to the mantel and using WallDriller anchors, secured the fireplace to the wall. The mantel was sanded and painted white, and the firebox received two rough, textured layers of furnace cement, then aged using a “blackwash” rub of stain and paint. With a tape outline of the fireplace (on the floor), I laid out the tile pattern. Using furnace cement as the adhesive, set 4x4 and 2x2 tumbled stone tiles, spaced 3/16” apart on the sides, and butted across the top middle. To keep from losing the stones’ whitewashed look, used a Ziplok bag and decorating tips to pipe in alabaster-colored grout in the cracks, using my finger to remove the excess. No extra sponging or sealing needed. The woodbox sitting in the firebox was built with pallet wood, stained and distressed. It’s decorated with greenery from the yard, white birch logs (2” hole drilled/chiseled for one of the candles), and pinecones. Now all we need are electric, glowing, crackling logs; especially now, since it’s snowing.