Want to create the look of a built-in fireplace? Here a step-by-step project on how to create a faux fireplace surround for your mantel.

faux fireplace surround with a built-in mantel


Did you hear that? I think I literally heard the house laughing.

It’s giggling and making plans for a party with figs and cheese and wine from the vineyards.

The prodigal mantel that once was discarded has now returned home.

See this mantel in this picture?

Wait until you see what it looked like when it showed up.

A little bedraggled. A little sad. A little tired and worn.

And then? I went all Statue of Liberty on it and welcomed it home.

Here’s how to rescue a mantel and how to build a faux fireplace surround.

faux fireplace surround before

Here’s what the mantel looked like when it showed up.

Or. Wait. I think I have a picture of the before before.

Where it all started.

Hold on.

mantel used to build the faux fireplace surround


I found it.

Here’s where the mantel’s journey began.

It was in the upstairs bedroom and I needed to move it to put the bed on the wall where it was.

And when we took it off the wall it kind of fell apart.

Pieces of the mantel unattached themselves and pieces of tile unattached themselves and the mantel looked like a shell of it’s former glory.

Like this.

We reattached the wood and took off the remaining tile and retiled the inside surround.

And it looked fine.

It looked sufficient.

But it never really looked built-in.

It never really looked like it belonged at the party. It reminded me of a wallflower standing against the wall (or in the mantel’s case it was more like leaning) waiting for someone to ask it to dance.

But now?

faux fireplace surround

It’s the belle of the ball.

It’s built-in now.

It’s custom looking.

It looks like it’s always been there.

fresh flowers in vases

Now I get it.

Before you e-mail me to tell me that is a lot of white—I understand it. I see the white, too and I have some other plans for it that will add some color. I was craving a little simplicty for summer—but there are color days ahead.

I was so excited about how it turned out that I wanted to start with sharing how we built-it in.

And the best part?

It was so much simpler than it looks.

Here’s how to build a faux fireplace surround.

how to build a faux fireplace surround


plywood board

1″x 5″ pine boards

1″ x 4″ pine boards

bead molding



faux fireplace surround built-in

Step 1: attach the mantel to the wall

You want to secure the mantel to the wall before you begin building a faux surround.

Our walls are shiplap underneath the paneling, so we just simply screwed the mantel into the wall.

Step 2:  Cut a piece of plywood

We cut our plywood to extend from the ceiling to the top of the mantel.

The plywood was the exact width of the top of the mantel.

If there are a few small gaps when you do this—no worries—you can caulk in the gaps later.

We nailed the plywood into the wall.

Step 3: frame out the edge of the mantel

We knew that we wouldn’t be adding crown molding to the top because there was already existing molding that extended down with a 1″ x 4″ board.

First, we framed out the edges of the entire fireplace with 1″ x 5″ boards.

You can see the board here running the entire length of the mantel and plywood on top of the mantel.

faux fireplace surround with pine molding

Step 4: add a frame to the top of the mantel

Next, we framed the plywood out the space over the mantel with 1″x 4″ pine boards.

We did not miter the edges of the boards to build the frame.

You can see here how the boards abut each other without mitering.

We cut the horizontal boards first and then added another shorter vertical board to complete the frame.

Step 5: add the bead molding

To match the rest of the mantel, we added this bead molding inside the frame.

We did miter this molding to give it a custom look.

We inset the molding into the edge of the frame.

Step 6: Cover the hole in the top

There was a hole in the top of the mantel from an old electrical outlet.

We just added a board to the top of the mantel to hide it.

Step 6: caulk and paint

Caulk is your friend.

It makes the entire project look custom and built in and glazes over any mistakes that you might make along the way.

We painted the mantel and surround SW Extra White.

I love how it turned out.

I love how it fits in with the rest of the family room.

The entire project took us a day from start to two coats of paint.

And the house and I are so happy….

….that the prodigal mantel has come home.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Love this! And, the mirror and vases of flowers wouldn’t be so prominent if the mantel had color...love those vases! And, will there be some blue introductions soon to the mantel? (just my guess) I’m waiting to see how you do a second transformation! Love your style.

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      EJ, It's on the back wall of the family room (across from the hutch on the other wall). Happy weekend! karianne

  2. Image for JC JC

    So beautiful.....all of it! I personally, love the soothing white with the marble tile and warm flooring....so visually calming.

  3. Image for Kim Kim

    It turned out so great! I have a mantel in my living room and now I'm feeling inspired to redo that wall with a built-in look. Amazing transformation!

  4. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    Looks all dressed up and ready to be shown off, you are very clever, thanks and have a blessed day.


    Gorgeous!!!!!! I love how the tile brings in your other paint colors......PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Image for Sharon Smith Sharon Smith

    I love it. I have been considering making one for my guest room. I want it to feel cozy! I adore those vases. Where did you get them? They are stunning. As always, you rock!

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      Sharon, They actually came from Magnolia! I ordered them several years ago! Hope this helps! Happy day! karianne

  7. Image for sheri sheri

    Love this! I always see mantles at the habitat store and was always trying to think of an idea to use one! Bingo! Now I have the answer. Beautiful job.

  8. Image for Barbara Chapman Barbara Chapman

    Love your new old mantel, KariAnne!! Mantels are pretty awesome and I have to say that I am really happy to have one again after 4 years without. It was kind of a drought thing but now it's all good! Enjoy your pretty mantel and great job building in the surround above! Summer hugs, Barb :)

  9. Image for Roxanne Roxanne

    Bravo!!! I’m so happy for you! My husband and I have been talking about moving a 100+ year old fireplace place mantel out of a farmhouse all summer. Your step by step instructions couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you!

  10. Image for Elizabeth Shivel Elizabeth Shivel

    This looks lovely! One question, originally was this mantle around an existing fireplace somewhere in the house or have you always had it as an “extra” that you moved from where you detached it to it’s current spot? You showed the “before before” photo, so was there a “before before before” situation? 🤔🌺 Liz

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Elizabeth, LOOOOOL! Nope! It was in the bedroom and floated around the house a little bit until it ended up in the family room! It's on the back wall of the family room (across from the hutch on the other wall). Does that make sense? Happy weekend! karianne

  11. Image for Jayne McLeod Jayne McLeod

    You both did a GREAT JOB ... it does look like it has been in that spot forever ! I just love all the wonderful project ideas you have and are so very kind (and so funny i might add ) to share with us. Thanks for the laughs! .... I so enjoy following along with YOU. Have yourself a wonderfully blessed day ! Jayne

Comments are closed.