Published on April 13th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Fireplace: Frump to Fab!

Materials: Nexus YB cabinet and drawer fronts; tape measure, paper, tape, power drill, jig saw

Description: Our 1950s house came with a very frumpy fireplace in the living room. Even before we had unpacked, I started demolishing the mint green paneling, the rickety DIY shelving and the shiny brass fireplace insert! My original plan was to cover it with faux limestone for a chic, mod look but when that proved to be too expensive, I realized I’d been collecting the perfect material already: Nexus Yellow-Brown door and drawer panels from the As Is department of IKEA.

We’d already put cement backerboard up over the old furring strips and cement block and brick. This was the ideal substrate for tiling later, but it also works well for the paneling.

Then we measured the fireplace dimensions and I drew them out full scale on paper taped to the floor. Placement would be tricky because we had to work the fireplace opening in and we wanted all factory-finished edges around the opening and on the outer edges of the front face of the paneling. The only cut edges could be against the wall and maybe – but only if absolutely necessary – on interior edges. There also had to be a balance of width between the paneling and the tile on the sides. Quite a lot to think about!

Once I figured out the placement of each piece, I numbered them on the back and then numbered the paper pattern and the backerboard. Then we started screwing them into place. We only had to cut one or two edges on the interior panels to fit them, which was really lucky. I would recommend scoring the veneer first to minimize splintering and use a saw blade made for fine cuts.

We screwed a furring strip onto the backerboard on which to rest the bottom edge of the first course of panels and just worked from there. It went pretty quickly and was much less work than doing a stone veneer!

The last step was to tile the opening and hearth with 12″ square gauged slate tiles from Home Depot ($3/sq ft!). I already had a tile saw and tiling experience so this was not a big deal.

~ Kathy

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

19 Responses to Fireplace: Frump to Fab!

  1. Alina says:

    The room looks so much taller! That rug makes it feel so warm and cosy. Very beautiful!

  2. Anonymous says:

    love it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    The fire surround looks really nice, but the old owners kind of had a notion there with that wainscotting. Your ceiling is low. Can you raise it? Or is there some way you can disguise that fact? We’re talking optical illusions here.

  4. Kathy says:

    Thanks, everyone!

    Tim K, the screw holes are filled with that colored wax filler that I think is made by Minwax. I got it at Lowe’s. The one for ‘red woods’ has the right color for this application. I worked it into the holes with an old credit card.

    Sarah, the chair–just one–you see on the right in the top photo is a Hans Wegner CH23. I got it cheap because the woven cord seat was a wreck, but I rewove it. I love it—wish I had a whole set!

  5. Ilir bitici says:

    Nice job. Great vision!

  6. Studio GDK says:

    Gorgeous, love it! Congratulations on a job well done.

  7. AprilAries says:

    @Blorch – Those are slate tiles and just look blue in that one photo.

    Thank you so much for sharing your stunning fireplace and how you created it! I just purchased Inhabit Architecture Wall Flats to replace my old fireplace surround with and even though I love their look in photos and hope it will turn out nice in my living room, I am SOO jealous that i did not think of doing something like this, which would have probably been a little less expensive and less work.
    Fatntastic job!!!

  8. Sarah McMann says:

    Looks great! I have a burning question though. On the back of the finished picture there is a row of dining chairs. May I ask what they are called and where you can find them? Thank you.

  9. healthcare interior design says:

    Wow beautiful remodel. What a transformation. Thanks for sharing:)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Looks fantastic. Congrats.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dude.. that looks sooo much better.
    Great job!

  12. Tim K says:

    Nice! This is an awesome update!

    Question: You say you screwed them in place — do the screws show? I don’t seem them in the photos, but they aren’t super detailed. Any info on how you you accomplished the screwing yet still kept the sleek look?

  13. Blorch says:

    I like it, but I’m curious about why you went with blue instead of a color that bridged the paneling and the floor hues.

  14. Bethany says:

    Gorgeous makeover! And it fits so nicely into the space and doesn’t look forced. Great work.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The original looks really ugly, but the new one is fantastic!

  16. Annie says:

    What a change! it looks brilliant, well done.

  17. Me says:

    Great job! I am impressed by change – elegant yet affordable.

  18. Janine says:

    This is very nice. It fits perfectly in your ’50′s home, along with the beautiful furniture. Good job!

  19. lisaB says:

    Nicely done – it’s beautiful!

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