Tuesday, June 19

DIY Shiplap Fireplace

Sometimes I just need a little kick in the pants to get a project done. Or a little bun in the oven. I've wanted to update our fireplace ever since we moved in (two years ago) but it wasn't until this spring when I was in full pregnancy nesting mode that I finally decided "I AM DOING THIS. RIGHT NOW." Naturally the "I" translated to "husband" because we were in the late-pregnancy stage of nesting. And he isn't one to let his round wife balance on a chair with a nail gun. He's a keeper.

And so, with a little help, we managed to check it off my nesting to-do list just in time before our newest guy was born. (you can see my entire living room nesting to-do list here, and how we wrapped the mantle here) One of my favorite details is the faux shiplap we installed above the fireplace.

I love the texture and charm it adds to the living room. I've always dreamed of a casual, cozy space for our family to gather, and I feel like this was a step in the right direction.

Here's a little "before" action. Just drywall painted the same gray as our walls.

Now it's even lighter, brighter, and totally beautiful. And I really need a full-fireplace photo. Not gonna lie, I probably shot close up because the floor was a hot mess. But I don't really remember. Because newborns don't sleep. It's all a blur.

The best part is the whole project only cost about $15 for wood! We also had to buy nails for our nail gun (I lost that price in the newborn-blur). But we saved a few dollars on paint by using the leftover from our cabinets... which doesn't quite match exactly, but that's a problem for another pregnancy.

Want to see how we did it? We started by cutting a $15 sheet of thin plywood into 7" strips. Then the process is pretty simple - just nail them to the wall - but as we know, nothing ever actually fits the "simple" mold. In this old house, nothing is level. Nothing is square. So our next step was cutting the top edge of the top board at an angle for a snug fit against the crooked crown molding, so the rest of the boards will sit level below it. We started with the front of the fireplace since it's the most important and we wanted to make sure it was right.

I wanted the front boards to overhang the side boards so the seams would't show on the front, so we cut the front boards 1/4" longer than the fireplace so they  would overhang the side boards. We used small scraps of wood (you can see it in the pic below) to make sure our front board was centered with enough overhang on either side. Then we attached the board with a nail gun.

We also used the old nickel trick and pinched a couple nickels between the boards to create the gaps that give it a "shiplap" look. I wouldn't go any smaller than a nickel. That gap is what gives it the charm!

See the nickels?

So we worked our way down the front with nickels and boards until we reached the mantle. This time "we" means Husband and my BIL. I very helpfully watched from the couch. Go team.

Then "we" started on the sides.

This is when we learned just how wonky the walls are. We're talking all kinds of wonky. Crooked, wavy, slanted, it was all of those and more. So we had to measure the top and bottom of each space and cut each board at a different angle to fit. Then up they went with nickels and the nail gun.

Almost done!

We did run in to one little road bump with the nail gun. Turns out there is brick behind the plaster (duh, it's a chimney. but we totally didn't think of that.) and our nails were too long. They hit the brick stuck out like this:

So I (this is an actual "I." See? I totes helped with this project.) ran to the hardware store to pick up shorter nails. And just like that, the boards were up!

Then I taped around the edges...

...and gave it a coat of white paint. Should I have primed it? Probably. But our plywood was "pre-primed" (you can see a few boards are backwards in the earlier pics) and I was using one of those "paint and primer in one!" deals. PLUS I was basically a ticking time bomb. So it is what it is and we'll see how it holds up. So far it looks great!

This was the first of three coats.

If you want a sharper finish, you can fill the nail holes and corner seams with caulk before you paint. But I liked the more rustic feel of the visible nail holes and imperfections. And the less-work of not filling the holes. Double-win!

As soon as the paint was dry, we got our antique wooden star back up. I found this star at an antique store with my SIL for like $6 to use with our Christmas decor. When I got home I walked in the door, thought "I don't want to take this to the basement right now" and hung it on a nail that had been in the wall since we bought the house. And now it's been there for a year and a half. Turns out we love it!

I've changed up the rest of the accessories about five times. Just because mantles are fun. 

There are so many options for mantle decor, but I'll tell you what I know about decorating with boys in the house - don't use anything you can't afford to lose. They will most likely break everything. It's just a matter of time. But, since we've already learned that lesson, we can plan accordingly and avoid a few disasters! That's why I love using things like books, wooden accents, and plants (in $0.50 pots, so it's no sweat if it takes a fall). And this adorable little globe I found on our local yard sale page.

All in all, this shiplap was a pretty quick weekend project with a big impact! Just cut boards, nail them up, and add a few coats of paint. Now the whole fireplace has a strong presence and sense of style.

Want to make a big impact somewhere else? You can even use this same technique for bigger projects like a feature wall! It would be great behind a headboard, in the dining room, or in any little nook that could use some interest and texture. We even helped my SIL install some in her breakfast room. And it's amazing. You can check out the "after" on her Instagram at Clay + Dust.

I know shiplap is super trendy at the moment, but it also has a timeless, cozy quality. It's a great way to add a little charm and give your home a more comfortable, lived-in vibe. You know my dream is a casual bring-your-friends-over home for our boys, and shiplap was a perfect accent to fit that goal and still make momma happy that it's looking pretty in here. 

Have you jumped on the #shiplap train? We'd love to hear how yours turned out!