Building the Fake Fireplace Mantel

I showed you the plans for the mantel a few days ago, and I am here to show you what we’ve done so far.  No- it is still not finished… we work in little spurts.  Get a bunch of things done…. do nothing on the remodeling front for two weeks… get a little more building done… get nothing done- maybe rent 3 movies and veg every night for a week! (please say I am not the only one who does this?)


Hopefully this week will be getting back to the swing of remodeling things, and we might accomplish something.  Like actually finish a project.  I know this is mind boggling, but did you know that there is such a thing as a finished project?  It is a little much for my scatter brained mind to grasp, but I am trying to be strong and focus… I am really my own enemy when it comes to finishing projects I always think… “Well this little thing just needs to be done, and that looks okay for now” (and it looks “okay- unfinished” like that for another year while I do the other “small” things!)


Not anymore, we will get this done.  This month…( I hope)


I did want to explain that when we start a project I will admit that we don’t always do it in the expected order… and you will see that with this project.  We do it in the order of what can be done while the girls are asleep without waking them up.  So while we did this thing a little backward it worked out to get us kick started on the project, and sometimes that is what counts.  Especially ince Justin does most of the building around here cuz I am busy writing and running Remodelaholic, it is helpful when he can do little things, that make it possible for me to work on the project too whenever I happen to get the chance.


So, when we finally had a minute to start working on the project it was during naptime.  Instead of making a bunch of noise removing the old mantel, we just started building out the wall above.  This gave us the chance to get the molding in too, and then I had something to patch, sand, caulk and paint in spare minutes when Justin was at work and I was hanging out at home watching the girls.


As a reminder this is what we were working with… (you can see the built in project here)


One of the issues?  Cords.. lots of cords, not exactly a decorators item, but a reality yes.



Building our Fake Fireplace Mantel!


One element that was important for me when designing this mantel was height.  I didn’t just want a mantel, that didn’t continue all the way up to the ceiling… I guess it is just more my style.  But I also REALLY like to have dimension on the crown (yes I have an obsession with moldings…Hi my name is Cassity, I’m a Remodelaholic, and no I will not put down this piece of crown molding. – I’m still in denial obviously!)


By building out just the top 2 inches (or even slightly less) we were able to define the mantel from the wall, add that much desired crown molding dimension, and also give us a bit of space to build in the TV mostly for cord control.  Also pictured (below), there are some electrical cords.  We just need to have them connected to the electrical panel.  While we had the chance before this big project, we pulled them through the wall and just took them to the garage attic –not connected to electrical, where we can finish them when we have the time.


(whoops – I obviously didn’t paint behind the TV! –… the magic of blog-land revealed)



These scrap 2 x 4’s were cut in half and then added to fur out the wall.  Justin secured them into existing studs where possible.



With just a few cuts and even fewer nails he added the top of the mantel.  We decided to go with wood (MDF), to avoid all the mess of drywall, and we were able to miter the edge pieces to hide any seams.  All we had to do was patch a few nail holes, I love quick work!



The next day or so we took off the old mantel.  I love how you can see where I painted, only where I HAD to to get the last project done!


I had to share the picture below to show you what some good cropping can do.  The image above looks like the room is all nice and clean… obviously not (see below) and really you are only seeing a tiny bit of the madness!


Once the upper portion of the mantel was up  we didn’t get back to the project until almost bedtime.  We couldn’t really get to anything big so we just installed the crown.

When installing crown around small bump out, it can be hard to keep the crown from splitting when you nail the edges.  So Justin attached them before installing the piece.   He nailed and glued the two small pieces on the sides of the crown.

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See how it was one big “U” that just slid over the bump-out.  Justin has A LOT of practice adding moldings.  It is not an easy task, but he has definitely learned a lot and one of those tips is installing crown properly – meaning coping inside corners!  If you are thinking, I just can’t COPE!  Coping corners, makes everything better, and I am the queen of caulk, so that says a lot coming from me… We will teach you how to do it someday I promise!



So ta-da!  The crown was up…mostly, but it was time for bed… so stay tuned, not that you have to wait for the crying to stop when you are reading this, lucky you!  (the picture below is one of  the funny parts about remodeling with kids, one child sees something that is fun and they both have to do it at the same time, even if there really isn’t room for that, by the way the baby got there first, she just isn’t quite as fast as her big sister!)


Connecting the dots… I mean molding.  After the kids were in bed, we threw up these two moldings.  These connected the empty spot between mantel and built in.  I love the difference it makes in bringing the space together.  Yea! I LOVE how finished it looks almost immediately. Especially since that portion of the ceiling is kind of weird!  but happily it  worked out perfectly.

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Now the bottom portion of the mantel.  I love how Etta made it here home almost immediately!

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We did the bottom portion kind of like how we did the first mantel, just a simple “U” box below.  We did do some cutting into the side of the cabinet – cuz remember we are working on cord control.  And one way we are accomplishing that is a removable top on the mantel, that gives us hidden access into the media cabinet.



Poor Lydia, when ever I climb up on the couch to take a picture, she decides it is time to freak out, and has to wait a whole 30 seconds till I get her. I have about 8 pictures of her looking up and crying for me exactly like this.  ( I won’t complain that she is a Mommy’s girl, I kinda like that she always wants me.. but it can be hard.)


Etta is 2 she just embraces the opportunity to get her picture taken so she “can see Etta” on the camera screen.



How do you like our fake fireplace mantel so far?  Second half tomorrow!

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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. It’s incredible how good it looks already! I love that you boxed out the overmantel – it’s such an upscale touch. I also love that you admit that you take whole weeks off sometimes. I don’t feel so bad about my lazy weeks. Your girls are adorable! Love those pics! Thanks for sharing.

  2. It is really coming along and then you can sit back and enjoy. You really have cute children. This is a special time because they grow up too fast.

  3. Where did you get the area rug in your pics?……… I love it and have been looking for one with those colors for almost a year! 🙂 thanks

  4. Do you have an actual plan a beginner like me could follow. Like you have on some of your other tutorials. I really want/need to build this! 🙂 It’s beautiful!