Before and After: I Gave My Bland, Non-Working Fireplace a Glam Makeover for Under $150

published Mar 14, 2023
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About this before & after
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White fireplace before redecoration.
Credit: Charli Penn

Before I became a homeowner, I had big dreams of enjoying many cozy nights sitting by the fire in my living room and reading a book, listening to music, or making memories with dear friends. Yes, I’ll admit, I wanted to feel like I was living inside a romantic comedy — especially during the holidays, when I’d adorn the mantel with festive decor, an oversized pine garland, and mercury glass candle holders. As you can see, I had it all pictured in my mind. When it came time to go house hunting, I ruled out the homes that didn’t have a fireplace feature; each time we walked into an open house, I headed straight for the living room to investigate. 

Credit: Charli Penn

Then something unexpected happened: My husband and I fell in love with a newly flipped corner house that had everything we wanted, except for a gorgeous fireplace. The once-working fireplace had been sealed off to make room to install central air ducts and the outside of the fireplace had been given the typical flipper treatment. It was painted stark white and a faux marble accent trim was added to the front to make it look a tad bit fancier than it actually was. Put simply, it wasn’t the fireplace of my dreams. It didn’t even stand out or make a statement in what was already quite a small living room. Because we were getting everything else we hoped for in our first home, and for a good price, I got over it fast and we made an offer and sealed the deal. 

Once we moved in and began to decorate and make the place our own, I decided to see if I could still bring a little bit more wow factor to the fireplace — especially because we’d never be able to actually light a fire there. To start, I knew that I wanted to create more of a contrast between the light greige walls, faux marble accent, and the rest of the fireplace, so I painted it a deep gray. I chose Behr’s Asphalt Gray because it read darker but didn’t look too close to black at night. I went with a satin finish so the sheen on the paint would complement the marble. It only took about 30 minutes to paint and the impact was instant. The fireplace really began to come to life on the wall. 

Credit: Charli Penn

I had an oversized wall mirror I wanted to hang above the fireplace, but I wanted to add a more textured look and feel before I did. With such a small area to cover, I turned to removable wallpaper. I’m a big fan of Tempaper, which has a very large selection of designs and patterns, and I was immediately drawn to the Marrakesh pattern in cream and metallic silver. It felt like the perfect choice for a room with gold and silver accents and a mirrored accent table. My husband and I were able to put the wallpaper up; we purchased two rolls to be safe, and so the dye lot would match, but we had plenty to spare. We were truly in awe of how much of a difference a can of paint and a little wallpaper could make. We spent less than $200 and it felt like we’d installed a brand-new fireplace.

Once we hung the mirror and added floor vases and some decorative elements like pampas grass and florals, it was time to add a little “fire” too. To achieve a somewhat similar effect I added a brass candelabra (which is no longer for sale at CB2, but here’s a similar one I found) and a set of premium remote-controlled LED candles with soft white glow. The glow at night feels so warm and elegant. Nothing compares to the wow-factor a wood-burning fire can bring, but when our guests come over and get a look at our made-over fireplace, their faces light up just the same. So, to us, mission accomplished!