Try This: A Faux Fireplace

Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Hey folks, Christmas is right around the corner. Sarah is already playing Christmas music (she actually started playing it back in May), and I can only stand it from about December 23 through the 26th. But that’s a whole other subject/post/story. I want to talk about fireplace mantels, or surrounds, they’re also called (which I just learned.) They have a huge (almost instant) nostalgia factor connected to them, which makes them an invaluable piece of furniture. Traditionally, mantels are a part of  a working fireplace. Fireplaces equal warmth, a place to gather with friends and family, and just feel make you feel great about life. We wanted to add some of that goodness to the office living room. Since this house doesn’t have a fireplace or mantel, I built a fake one. Even though it doesn’t fulfill the same basic function as a real one, it still provides a sense of warmth to the room. Plus, in a couple months we can hang stockings on it (which Emma and Elsie can stuff with goodies for all of us ;)).

I’m not going to get into any measurements or detail on the build since you would basically need to know how to frame and install trim, and I would have to draw a blueprint, and use power tools, etc. This is just to inspire you and show what can be done if you don’t have the pleasure of having an actual fireplace in your home. Check out the process below. It was really fun to build (actually took me back to when I used to do finish carpentry…man, that was over 10 years ago.)

Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)One thing about painting this thing: I painted it with semi-gloss first, thinking it would be fine acting as a primer (I thought it would make the green pop a bit more). I don’t know if it was the color or what, but the green would not stick (both paints are interior acrylic), and I ended up having to do three or four coats. Even then, it didn’t turn out 100%. Anybody have a clue on why it did that? Was it just because I used semi-gloss as primer? If I redid it,  I would just paint a couple coats of the green or use Kilz.

Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)Faux fireplace surround (click to learn more)There you go. It took about a day to build, a couple days to get a decent paint job, and we had ourselves a fireplace surround. It really does add a sense of familiarity to the room, which will last all year long. – Josh

Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes, Photography: Joshua & Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella  of the Signature Collection.

  • Josh did a GREAT job!

    The “faux fireplace” had been VERY popular in the 1950s many retail home furnishings company’s offered a fireplace, most had a cut-out in back to accomodate the existing baseboard the fireplace stood flush with the wall.

    Many of these faux fierplaces are on Craigslist and CHEAP.

    We have 3 faux fireplaces done our own thing with each we saved a few bucks on lumber, etc.

    We boosted each one up 12 inches lay the wood “hearth, bottom” on 2 cinder blocks lay sideways and hid them with bricks painted black, and added a nice electric space heater from Wayfair that looks like logs (we never use the heat try to keep electric bill down here) the lighted logs look beautiful.

    One we painted the same color of the wall in our eat in kitchen boosted that one up about 6 inches with driveway paver’s painted black and used the original wood logs that came with that holds 2 red lighbulbs.

    One is in our sons room we did a “nautical” theme sail boats, fish net and the mantle holds his awards, trophy’s, plaques, etc.

    These faux fireplaces are all over Craigslist, thrift stores, save a few bucks on lumber and beef up an old one do your own thing.

    Sea Girt, New Jersey 08642

  • Hello!!

    I remember when this DIY came out and I absolutely loved it!
    I noticed when I came back to search for it, the measurements of the wood and tools needed wasn’t listed on this page. Do you guys have the measurements/details of this by chance? I would love to make it for my new place!


    • Hi Lindsay,
      Most likely the author left the measurements off because he was intending for people to customize them for their now spaces. This happens a lot with really custom projects.

      The best tip I have for planning spaces and sizes is to use washi tape to mark out where the new fireplace would be on your floor and wall so you can see how large you want it.

      🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Absolutely love the the fireplace! What is the name of the color you painted it? I love it!!!

  • I love it too! A quick google search and I found it here:

  • I dream of having a fireplace!! Even a false one, i also think it had a huge family vibe/charm to any room…

  • Oh wow! Beautiful piece, Josh! It is so unique and full of character. I agree with the others tht mentioned more functionality for small space, but it is so perfect for what you all had in mind. 🙂 I don’t do owner tools, but now I am inspired.

  • Josh, this looks amazeballs, I am in awe of your carpentry skills! I love all the builds you guys do, but I am a total novice – could you do a tutorial on how to join things together, when something needs pilot holes, where, how, angles, screwing wood to metal/stone/brick/plaster (etc) …. or are you all way ahead of me and I’m just being blind?

  • I love that color green, really gives the mantel a 60s feel!

    I’m betting the semi-gloss is where you ran into problems. Usually, when you buy primer, it’s pretty dull and matte. Paint adheres better to dull, matte surfaces. For instance, if you were painting kitchen cabinets, you are supposed to sand the lacquer off first, even rough them up a bit, before painting.

  • Love this! We actually have a wood stove AND a gas stove in our house, but neither of them have a modern-cozy feel as this. I’d love to try this in a guest bedroom, especially since the shelf is large enough for displaying trinkets and decorations. Great idea!


  • Ahhhh darn. This is one project I hoped you would give dimensions on, because I am terrible with guessing numbers, but you did say this is for inspiration and that it is! Exactly what I have been loooking for! Thanks for posting!:-)

  • What’s the name/brand of the green color? It’s gorgeous! I have a mustard colored sofa (similar to fhe pouf in the photos) and have been stumped on a color to pair it with. That green would be perfect!

  • I was thinking of that option, too – sliding doors (or cabinet doors with knobs or leather pulls accessed from front or sides depending on look you want) with hidden storage. Make it cedar-lined on top for blankets and such and maybe slide-out drawers on bottoms for dvds or whatever. You could really get fancy with it.

  • Now I want to see someone makeover one of those giant, plug-in fireplaces from a big box hardware store. Now, doing that makes very little sense in real life and isn’t very cost-effective, but I still want to see it. Like, imagine something featuring “5 ways to make-over a stand alone fireplace.” Josh’s post is much more reasonable and applicable to real life and I love it. Can you even imagine what one of those giants would require?? Yeesh.

  • I was thinking the same thing, too! A faux mantle could bring warmth and much needed aesthetically pleasing storage to a tiny space. Imagine if some of those panels slid and had shelves behind them. I think Josh achieved his goal of inspiring us.

  • Wow I would never have thought to do this! I’ve got a wall in my apartment that I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with, and maybe this will do the trick!

    Would love to see a round up of ideas of what to do with a small apartment that already has enough furniture, but needs more wall decor/accents.

  • Thanks Madelyn. I should have done a tinsy more research, but it worked out in the end.

  • Hey Erika, it’s just set there. Makes it easier to move around!

  • Yea, I thought I could just use the white as a primer. Biggest mistake I could make. Oh well, ya live and learn.

  • During the non-wintery months, you could use this as a little bar. The color of green that you chose is so smart because it fits with Spring, Summer, and Fall colors too! Huzzah!

  • Absolutely wonderful!!!
    I would actually make some of those into shelves, kind of like a hidden bookcase in the fireplace.

    Please keep them coming!

  • This is like one from my dreams, now I see that it could be realistic 🙂

  • I live in a tropical country so a fireplace isn’t necessary but I really love the look and wish we had one at home. This is a pretty neat idea guys. Love it!

  • I’m another big fan of the faux fireplace! I’ve seen some of these come out around the holiday season (as we don’t have fireplaces in our apartments in HK) for department store decor. The beauty of making things for yourself…you can match it to your tastes. I love Josh’s carpentry work…seriously, such a beautiful piece. It’s something that I am adding to my list of Things I Need When I Finally Purchase An Apartment.

  • I was thinking the same thing! I could definitely make use of this fireplace as a functional storage. I wish I had Josh’s skills.

  • I was totally thinking the same thing. I could definitely use it as a functional storage piece. I wish I had Josh’s skills.

  • I agree with Amanda. Primer is primer. Gloss is gloss. What sheen was the green paint? If it was any less then a semi-gloss then there’s your answer. You can paint a semi on semi or a high gloss on semi, but you cannot paint a flat, eggshell or satin on a semi-gloss- it won’t stick due to the sheen level. It would need to be sanded down some to reduce the sheen or scrubbed with TSP to de-gloss.

  • I love this so much! It’s the perfect pop of colour against that white wall, and the wood looks incredible in there.

  • The DIY home projects have been so good lately! I like how you can change this one much easier than a typical, traditional fireplace, such as painting it for a new home decor project.


  • I love that yellow crochet pouf! Is it homemade? Thinking that will be my next crochet project!

  • Such a cute idea! I’ve never seen this done before.

    Pretty in Python

  • This is such a great idea! I think especially if you were renting, you’d be able to have a mock-fireplace as added decoration and not ruin a thing in the house! I might have to have my husband build one of these (he’s a carpenter, so it’d be no problem for him!).

  • Josh’s posts are my favorite!! Love the green- sorry the paint was finicky though!

  • Love this! I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile but with a salvaged old mantle…they are just hard to come by (for less than $500!) 🙂 Maybe I should try building my own! :

  • WOW! I could’ve sworn it was built in, absolutely classic!

  • It looks really cool but I’d love a real fireplace! I have this dream of making my own fire and warming up to it hot chocolate in hand, wrapped in a blanket. Perfect for the season ahead <3 Have a lovely weekend! xx

  • I took the lazy route and bought a fireplace surround/mantel from the local salvage store and mounted it against the wall. I put a cheesy electric fire inside during the chilly months. So cozy!

  • Oh yay this is awesome! Always wanted a fireplace, but it’s hard to find when renting an apartment. Love this idea!

  • We have a nonfunctional fireplace and am thinking that putting firewood in it would be a handsome way to cover the opening. (Otherwise my cat, Flossie, will turn into Flossie Claus and climb up the chimney. It’s hilarious and terrifying.) Did you use regular firewood? Is that something that’s gross to keep in the house? Isn’t it full of bugs? I’m totally ignorant. Thanks!

  • I’m a big fan of Josh’s projects! Would looooove to see some featured in your next book. 😉

  • Love the project. You make the creation of anything seem possible! That’s a gift!

  • In love with this idea! We have an awful, unused gas fire in our living room and this will work perfect to cover it up with someone workable!


  • I love this!!!
    I don’t see myself living anywhere where a real fireplace would be possible so this is just perfect! Thanks for sharing!

    Love from Italy,


  • Maybe I’m a bit dense, or just not paying attention – did you just set it in front of the wall, or actually attach it?

  • This turned out great! I agree with Amanda though…semi gloss paint is almost impossible for paint to “stick to”. Any surface you are trying to paint needs a little texture to hold on to. Primer is your BFF!

  • For my little NY apartment I would love something like this if it also doubled as a bookshelf so it has a semi-fireplace look and feel with the mantlepiece for display, but is also more functional for the small space. Great inspiration piece!

  • semi gloss paint is nearly the exact opposite of primer. Primer is formulated to be flat and sticky creating the ideal texture for paint to adhere. Semi Gloss paint is exactly what it says -Gloss- especially when its cured (dried for more than 4 hours) glossy finishes are usually sanded and primed before painting.

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