DIY Movable Fireplace

white fireplace surround with wood mantle

I’m so excited to share our new fireplace today! I’ve wanted a fireplace in our house for years; and while this one is not real, it’s still cozy, simple and inviting. This fireplace is not only movable, but also can be set up in a number of ways – for an electric fireplace insert, for an electric log insert or just left empty to style as you wish!

white fireplace surround with wood mantle

It’s funny how projects can end up being completely different than what you originally planned for/started with. My original plan for this was just a mantle on the wall. However I ended up not being able to find the paint I wanted to give the wall behind the mantle a slightly textured look, so it ended up completely changing directions into this! And I couldn’t be happier. I really feel like this fireplace was meant to be in our house and it might be one of my favorite DIYs we’ve done. (Sidenote: our 1830’s farmhouse originally had two fireplaces in it! We can see the evidence of them in the attic…wish they had stayed with the house!).

Since I love to rearrange things in our house, Mike came up with the idea of making this whole fireplace movable! We left the original crown molding and baseboard intact, and built the fireplace as a complete piece that just attaches to the wall with screws. So we’re able to unscrew it from the wall and slide it anywhere else in the room we want! I love him for thinking of that idea for me.

We also were undecided about the electric fireplace insert we wanted. The one I liked the look of the best didn’t really fit in our budget. I didn’t want to be stuck with one I didn’t like the look of, so we opted to get an electric log insert. This will give us the heat we want, but I also can remove it and put in pretty birch logs when I want that look. (I didn’t order the log insert in time, so there’s no photos of it for this post). Down the road, we may decide to go ahead and buy the nicer insert, so we made our fireplace opening with those dimensions in mind. So this faux fireplace is pretty versatile – it can move around the room and it can fit different inserts…pretty nifty! 😉

white fireplace surround with wood mantle
wood mantle white wall with eucalyptus in vase
white fireplace surround with wood mantle

Materials:

  • 2x4s
  • circular saw
  • drywall
  • screws
  • drywall nails
  • plywood
  • drill/screw gun
  • corner bead
  • drywall tape
  • joint compound
  • finishing knives
  • drywall sander
  • paint
  • brush
  • polyurethane
2x4 wood cut ends
2x4 wood framed for fireplace
2x4 wood fireplace frame
2x4 frame for electric fireplace, sawing piece of drywall
hamming in corner bead, glueing wood blocs onto plywood

Directions:

Determine how wide and how far out from the wall you want the fireplace and the height of the mantle. Determine how large you want the fireplace opening to be – if you’re putting in an electric fireplace insert or logs, order that first so that you have the measurements for how large to make your opening. Ours is 4” deep above the mantle, and 12” deep below the mantle. Because we want to be able to relocate our fireplace to another location in the room in the future, we built ours freestanding with the ability to fasten it in position. (If you were building it in its permanent position you would fasten the framing to the wall as you build). 

Cut the back 2x4s for each side; we cut ours 1-3/4” short of the ceiling and notched the top of it around the crown molding and the bottom of it around the base molding so it could sit flat against the wall. The total width of our fireplace is 48”, so we cut the cross pieces of 2x4sto 44” long; this is 48”: 3 inches for the 2 side 2x4s and 1 inch for the 1/2” drywall on each side. 

Cut 5 of the 44” pieces for the back of the fireplace and 3 of the 44” pieces for the front of the fireplace. 

Cut two 48” uprights for the side of the lower part of the fireplace. 

Cut four 11-1/2” pieces and two 10” pieces, which will be used to attach the front to the back section of the fireplace. 

We wanted the bottom of the fireplace to be a solid piece; we cut this out 3/4” plywood, the size was 10-3/4” x 47”.

Lay out the spacing for your cross pieces, we had one at 48-3/4” to the center from the bottom of the plywood bottom, one at the top, 2 more evenly spaced between these two, and one at the height of the top of the fireplace opening plus 3/4”. 

Lay out your cross piece locations on the front frame of the fireplace, we had one at the top installed vertically, one at the height of the top of the fireplace opening plus 3/4”, and one spaced evenly between these two.

Pre-drill the holes through the sides at each of the crosspiece locations. Attach the crosspieces using 3” screws. Pre-drill the 11-1/2” pieces and the 10” pieces which will attach the back section and the front section. The 10” pieces go at the top of the front section and attach behind the vertical crosspiece. The other 11-1/2” pieces are evenly spaced below that. 

Attach the plywood bottom using screws. Cut a 41-1/2” piece of 2 x 4 that will be installed at the back of the mantle ledge between the 2 10” pieces. Cut four pieces to the height of the fireplace opening  plus 3/4”, and screw them in place so that the opening is the desired width plus 1-1/2” and centered on the fireplace frame. 

Cut and attach 2×4 blocking between the front opening uprights and the side uprights. Cut a piece of 3/4” thick wood two inches wide. From this piece, cut a piece the width of the fireplace framed opening, attach to the 2×4 with screws keeping it flush with the front of the 2×4. Cut 2 more pieces the legnth from the plywood up to the 3/4” piece at the top of the opening, attach these pieces with screws, one on each side.

At this point, we stood our frame up into position and attached drywall to the frame. We installed the drywall on the face of the fireplace first, cutting the opening for the fireplace before attaching the drywall. Cut the side drywall to the 12” depth and attach. Use a drywall saw to cut along the top of the mantle shelf to the face of the back drywall and then use a utility knife to cut along the face of the upper drywall on the back of the side drywall bend it out and cut off.

Cut and attach corner bead with drywall nails. We used pre-taped no nail corner bead for the inside of the fireplace opening. Apply joint compound using drywall tape to tape any joints between pieces of drywall. Allow to dry and then re-coat, 3 or 4 coats may be needed. Sand the drywall smooth. Prime and paint.

We installed 1/2” plywood inside of the fireplace opening to the sides and the back. We cut tin ceiling to fit on the sides and in the back and attached with nails. We cut 1/4” pine board into 2”x4” blocks to create a faux brick look on the bottom of the fireplace opening (glueing them down). If you do this, make sure to adjust your measurement for the opening of the fireplace by the thickness of the wood you put down. (We painted the inside of our fireplace opening black). We used screws to attach the fireplace to the wall and made moldings to go along the wall to cover any gaps and cut crown molding to match the crown molding in the room.

For the mantle, we used a piece of reclaimed framing barn lumber, finished with a clear polyurethane finish.

white fireplace surround with wood mantle, black firebox with birch logs
wood mantle white fireplace surround with plants
wood mantle with black and white picture

– Manda

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