mantlepiece interior renovation

Maybe you’ve got a fireplace and you’re thinking about changing it?  Or maybe (like me) you have a room without a focal point, and you’ve decided that a fireplace is the answer.

I’ve covered the new fireplace briefly in the sitting-room makeover, but this fireplace has a secret.  It isn’t real.  It houses the stereo and the CDs. 

(I realise that CDs are a soon to be outdated technology, but I’m sure I’ll find another use for the storage then.  Books perhaps?)

stripped mantlepiece

Firstly, you can buy the wood surrounds new.  However, for less than 10% of the price, you can buy one from a salvage yard.  It’s a bit more work, but worth it.  This one I stripped using a heat gun.  You can read how addicted I got to that blistering and peeling paint (SO SO satisfying) just from the application of a very hot hairdryer here.

You can see it above when I was propping it up, working it all out.

I did like the look of it stripped, but I needed to build it in, and I just couldn’t get wood to match and look seamless unless I painted it white again.

Also – the corbels were white plaster (as you can see) and I thought they looked a little odd.

build fireplace mantel mantlepiece white wood

I propped the wood fire surround about a foot out from the wall.  I used another piece of wood the same thickness, and screwed that on, to extend the top to the wall.  Some builders bog filled in any gaps between the two.

Then I built plywood sides so that it started to look like a proper fireplace.  These are now painted grey (above) – as the inside of a fire is darker.

hidden shelves fireplace mantlepiece whiteThen I built shelves in behind.  one massive one ran the length of the mantlepiece, forming both the shelf for the stereo, and also the top of the firebox to be painted grey.  Beneath that I build individual shelves just wide enough to hold CDs.  I trimmed them with beading to make them look beautiful.

fireplace wood white mantel storage stereo CDs interiors

If you look carefully in the photo above you can see the join between the mantle surround and the extra wood I attached to extend it to the wall.  Admittedly a professional could do better, but no-one has ever noticed – or at least been rude enough to comment!

 white mantlepiece fireplace after

The room not only has a focal point, it has now has storage for the stereo and CDs – all hidden from view.


Until someone tries to light a fire and our stereo goes up in smoke….

fireplace wood white mantel storage stereo CDs interiors

The other secret of a good-looking fireplace is not to leave it empty.  This wonderful copper urn (secondhand of course!) fills it beautifully.  And the Elk Antler (obviously secondhand – the Elk had it first) adds interest to the top.

If you notice, there is also a tiny carved figure from Papua New Guinea – I love the way she stands guard there.

Have you found a great way to conceal storage?