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I posted this a while ago when I first decided that my fireplace needed an overhaul. I’m reposting in case you missed it…

Somebody really liked pink. Maybe it was the era or maybe it was just personal preference. Either way, it clashes with my current furniture. I talked to the previous owner and she explained that when they moved into the house the walls and bathroom tile were all pink. None of that remained when we settled on the house in late summer. None of that, except, the pink marble fireplace. Or, as I refer to it to my color blind husband, as though he cares, the more accurate descriptor, “salmon” fireplace. Standing 3 and a half feet tall by 4 and a half feet wide and imposing itself against an antique white wall, the structure, in my mind, is clearly an eye sore.

My husbands career dictates that we will move every few years. I enjoy the adventure of exploring new places and meeting new people. However, we never know just what type of home or community we will wind up in next and we just can’t always get everything we want and sometimes that even means we can’t get much. We have been fortunate during our past few moves to get most of the items on our ‘must have’ list and many items on our ‘would like to have’ list.

This move found us with my top priorities in check, the square footage, a yard for my three boys to run around in, and two bonuses, a flat cul-de-sac lot and an attached 2 car garage. Though, there were many items we enjoyed in our previous home that I had to give up this house would do. We knew as soon as we began looking in this area that we couldn’t afford quite as much house and knew downsizing was in order and that we would need to purchase an older home that would require some work.

Initially, when deciding on this home there were three areas that stuck out to me as needing immediate attention: the kitchen, the master bathroom and the salmon fireplace. We decided these could be done after moving into the home. Removing the popcorn ceiling and painting the walls moved their way to the top of our priority list and we were pleased to be able to check those off before moving in.

Since then I have replaced most of the light fixtures, door handles and other hardware around the house. I understand that brass is making a come back, however, old, weathered and peeling brass, I am convinced, will never make a comeback, although, I could be totally wrong on this.

The kitchen and the master bathroom will both need a total overhaul, however it will take much more than we are able to do at the moment. We did believe we would have some funds to update these after moving in, however, due to some unforeseen events that I will blog about at a later date, this will not come to fruition. That leaves us with the salmon marble fireplace. Something I can do something about.

I thought about having the marble removed, however, hiring someone was going to be out of our budget and my husband is not at all handy (handsy maybe, but not handy, in the hammer and nail sense of the word). Whatever was to be done about this fireplace, I knew it was completely up to me.

Sometime before Christmas a wayfair.com advertisement came up with fireplace surrounds and mantels, maybe from all the searches about fireplace ideas I’d done previously. They were 50% off! I had been thinking that this would minimize the shock of the salmon fireplace against my burgundy and beige furniture and antique white walls. I needed something to tone it down and I was starting to feel desperate.

I quickly realized that I have an irregular size fireplace. It doesn’t match up with any standard sizes anywhere. There were some sites for custom size fireplace surrounds and mantels, however, I couldn’t beat the 50% off sale with free shipping. I ordered it, got excited to go to work on it. When it arrived I was quickly overwhelmed by a series of events that accompanied the holidays and required me to travel out of state twice.

On Friday, the boys were out of school due to the threat of snow. I walked into that room in the afternoon and decided it was time. I knew my husband would come home to the boys still in their pajamas, no dinner and saw dust all over the living room floor. I contemplated waiting until another day. I knew what I “should be” doing: cleaning the guest bedroom and getting ready for my mother’s arrival. I quickly ignored that voice and decided to do what I wanted to do and I’m certainly glad I did.

I began by sizing up the unit I’d purchased, which included two side assemblies, a breast board and a mantel. I knew they weren’t the correct fit, but that I could make work. While placing the unit against the wall to get a better idea of what it would look like and where I wanted to the different pieces to lay, I realized that the wainscoting and trim were going to be in the way. I had wanted to mantel a bit higher, but also didn’t want to completely destroy the wainscoting and trim in my efforts to create a better looking focal point in our living room. I decided having the mantel just under the wainscoting trim would work the best without making too much of a mess of the wall.

The trim just below the wainscoting was going to be in the way any way you looked at it. My first order of business was to remove this piece of trim. Before I began to pry the trim from the wall I thought it would be a good idea to cut around the edges first in order to separate the wall paint from the trim. I could just see a large section of paint peeling right off along with the trim. I began with a box cutter and realized the end of my flat tip screw driver worked better.

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I was planning on using my crowbar to pry this piece of trim from the
wall, but as I worked with the screwdriver to get it started I realized I didn’t need the crowbar at all. I was able to completely remove it using the screwdriver.

I then measured the area, figured out how to make the adjustments to the side assemblies, breast board and mantel and marked where I needed to cut them. I chose to cut the bottom off the mantel in order to help get to the correct height of the entire unit. After cutting this piece my husband arrived home, smiled and said I’m taking the boys to dinner. What a good man. While they were out I was able to finish the rest of what I accomplished thus far.

After cutting down the two sides and the breast board (the board that goes across right under the mantel) and placing them where I was planning I realized that 3/4” of the horse shoe molding on either side of the fireplace was going to need to be removed in order for the side pieces to fit flat against the way. I did not want to remove the entire molding just to cut 3/4” off and put it back, so I put my Dremel to use. Using the cutting tool of the Dremel I was able to make a cut in the horseshoe molding and pry just that piece off using my screwdriver.

Next I attached the wall cleats that came with the mantel surround and shelf to the wall using the hardware provided. I adjusted the placement recommended in the instruction due to the modification I had made. I attached the breast board to the sides and attached it to the bottom wall cleat using finishing nails. Then I placed the mantel on top and attached it to the upper wall cleat using finishing nails.

I am pleased with the look of the mantel and the fact that it toned down the salmon a bit. However, I am still contemplating whether to paint or otherwise cover the marble. I am thinking stone, stacked stone maybe or chalk paint in a slate or cream color.

I am open to helpful ideas, thoughts, and suggestions!

Melanie

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