When we were house-hunting, one thing on our wish-list was a fireplace. After searching through many houses, we decided ours was the best that we had seen. It had everything we needed, and we were in love. We had much bigger concerns, and whether or not it had a fireplace was not one of them. To find a house that has everything you want, would have been pretty amazing on our first-time-home-buying budget. Plus, it’s South Carolina, it doesn’t get that cold, right? Who needs a fireplace in S.C.?
When November came around and it started to get cold, I started to complain. All of a sudden I remembered how badly I wanted that fireplace. After the shiny “oh my God we have a house” starts to wear off, you start thinking of everything you wish you would have done if you were buying again. Instead of a simple wish-list, you have a wish-this-or-that-was-different-list. And when it is 18 degrees outside, you can’t help but dream of curling up next to a fire and wondering WHY DIDN’T I BUY A HOUSE WITH A FIREPLACE!? (Apparently I get really angry and dramatic when I’m cold.)
It may not have been quite that dramatic, but you get my drift. It was time for the fireplace to be installed, however that was going to happen.
Adding on a real, legitimate, wood-burning fireplace was out of the question. That was an expense we just could not afford. We thought about gas, but gas is not available where we live at the moment. It may be in the future, but not now. So, we were seemingly left with electric being our only option.
My husband was not on board for this at first. “An electric fireplace? You might as well just not have one at all.” For him, it was wood-burning or nothing.
Well, I wasn’t settling for that. If you know me, I’m pretty much terrified of fire. I have no idea why. Nothing traumatic has happened to me in the past involving fire, but I respect it enough not to mess with it. Whenever we have a fire in the pit in the backyard, I have to wait for all the coals to burn down before I can even think about going inside. When we go out of town, I make sure all the TVs are unplugged, just in case. It’s bad.
So needless to say, electric fireplace: ON/OFF switch, no real flame, WINNER! The search had begun. We went to Lowe’s and browsed through the electric fireplaces. They all had glass fronts and were already cased in some sort of wood “mantel” type thing. They were upwards of $300 and I hated all of them. I didn’t want some dinky little “fireplace” sitting in the middle of the living room that was the size of an end table. I wanted something that looked like a real fireplace! Something I could hang my stockings on at Christmas time and on which I could put cute family pictures. I was getting frustrated thinking we were just S.O.L. and we just needed to wait until we could afford the real thing. Almost without hope, we talked to a gentleman that worked there and told him what we were wanting to do.
He had the perfect solution: an electric log. We had never heard of such a thing. It’s simply a faux log that blows out heat, glows like a real flame, has a remote control, AND has no glass front or wood casing. WHAT!? PERFECT! We were ready to buy it right then and there, but they were sold out. I called all the local Lowe’s stores and none of them had one either. Not only that, but they were a “seasonal” item and they weren’t getting anymore in stock until at least next winter. Ughh…this took us from really excited to really bummed in about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, my dad had been wanting us to give him an idea of what we wanted for Christmas. We casually mentioned how we really wanted this, but they were out, blah blah blah. I’m glad we did, because he found it! We were so excited! As soon as we opened that on Christmas Day, the race was on to build the mantel.
We browsed online for plans on Pinterest and Ana White, but they didn’t have anything like we were building. We were trying something totally new, it seemed. So, we kind of had to make up our own plans along the way.
We started with a base, that would be our hearth, built out of 2x4s and some plywood. We had to cut away part of the baseboard so it would sit flush to the wall.
Next, we put together the mantel part (in the garage), and carried it inside to attach it to the base, We also attached the mantel to the wall for extra support.
Next, I painted the mantel and base a high gloss white.
Then, it was back to Lowe’s to find some tile and purchase a miter box. We picked up some decorative moulding to give the fireplace a finished feel. Being that we did not have a miter saw, we purchased a miter box for around $12. It did the job, but definitely not perfectly.
I found some 12″x12″ backsplash type tile with mesh backing that was on sale, as well as some 12″ ceramic tile squares for the hearth. I scored all of it for around $50. We were very limited on tools when we were doing this project, so cutting tile was not an option. The tile I picked had to fit perfectly in the space with minimal cutting. Lowe’s will make your first few tile cuts for free, so I calculated it out and had them cut just what I thought I needed. Somehow I ended up having EXACTLY enough tile, with not even one piece to spare. Talk about precise calculation. I was excited. It was like this thing was meant to be built. 😉
Next, I painted the inside of the fireplace black, so the log insert would blend in. We built a box inside the opening with a cut out so the cord for the log could be plugged in behind the mantel. This also helped hide the fact that this entire fireplace was made out of wood. The different colors and depths make you believe it is much more than that.
Let’s put the log in to check it out!
It was looking good, but something was still throwing me off a little. I felt like the space between the top of the mantel and the top of the opening was too wide. I needed to figure out something to do to balance that area. So, off to Ross I went. I found a great piece of faux ironwork for around $12 that I thought would work perfectly. The ironwork paired with some extra candle holders and other decorative things I had around the house, were just what I felt it needed to be deemed complete.
And here it is! Electric Fireplace for around $250. (Well, $375 if you have to purchase the log.) We absolutely love it and it pumps out lots of heat for such a little unit. To top it off, it actually has dancing faux flames, so it gives off a great ambiance. You can turn it on just for looks, or have the heater going so it serves a purpose. Either way, it’s great!