The only issue with this fireplace makeover is that we didn’t do it sooner! It took some convincing to get my husband to agree to paint the brick but once that was decided, the wheels of this old fireplace makeover got rolling! We painted the brick and added to the previous (underwhelming) mantel and then designed and installed a shiplap panel or overmantel to help define the space. The result is a stunning fireplace makeover and I’m sharing it all in this DIY updated fireplace with shiplap overmantel post!
About this Post
In a previous post, DIY Painted Brick Fireplace Before and After (with new DIY Mantel) I covered painting the brick and how we built a new mantel. In this post, I’m focusing on our shiplap overmantel which was the last step in one of my favorite DIY projects to date!
About this Space
This mantel sits on the outside wall of our living room. Our living room has a cathedral ceiling that at its highest point measures approximately 18 feet high. Due to the high ceiling, the builders of our home built a fireplace that sits higher than the norm. According to this informative article by www.pickHvac.com the average mantel height is 52-56 inches from the floor. Our mantel was built 66 inches off the floor to assist in making the fireplace in scale with our high ceilings.
Even with this higher-than-usual fireplace, there was still a significant amount of wall space above the mantel that looked off and was quite frankly hard to fill. This is where our idea to add a panel – or overmantel came in. We wanted to extend the fireplace with a more substantial, decorative look that would fill in the odd empty wall space and put the finishing touches on our previous outdated fireplace.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had never heard the term “overmantel.” I had always described ours as an over-the-mantel panel but overmantel makes sense. The basic definition of an overmantel is “a decorative structure or an ornamental panel situated above a mantelpiece” and with a little research, I learned these date back to Europe where they were seen in more ornate homes. Overmantels can be made of wood like ours, stone or tile, or plaster. Some are elaborate, and some are simple with a smooth finish which gives a more contemporary look. All are made to enhance a home and become a beautiful focal point of your living space. Mirrors continue to be a popular choice to add to an overmantel as they match everything and can make a space look larger.
Paintings are another common choice and in today’s age, many have flat-screen TVs hung from overmantels. Sconces are often added to overmantels as well. Below is our fireplace decorated for Christmas with my DIY candle sconces.
Regardless of what you choose to hang on your overmantel, the fact remains overmantels help make your mantel more decorative and define the space.
Building our Overmantel
With our red brick fireplace painted and the extended mantel done, we moved to the overmantel starting with shiplap. We decided we wanted the width of the panel to match that of the mantel base (box below the decorative top). To do so the first step was to plan the width of the panel frame and then cut the shiplap to fit that frame. Below is a photo of the finished overmantel to show how the overall width aligns with the box and the top of the mantel extends beyond both the box and the panel. You can also see we designed the decorative crown molding on the top of the panel to line up with the mantel top.
The width of the frame is 3.5″ (x’s 2) and the length of the shiplap boards measures 56″ resulting in the entire panel measuring 63″ (frame +shiplap+frame). The crown molding with the decorative flat piece is 69″ long.
Tools and Materials for this DIY Updated Fireplace with Shiplap Overmantel
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- Ladder (we used a gorilla ladder)
- Drop cloth
- Tape measure
- 48″ level
- Miter Box Saw
- Safety goggles
- Nail gun (finish)
- Finish Nails
- Paintable Caulk
- Caulking gun
- Painters putty
- Quart of paint ( we used Benjamin Moore latex paint – Chantilly Lace)
- Paint can opener
- Painters bucket tray
- Paint brush
(note: we recommend you go to your local lumber store to hand select the best boards you can find)
- 7- 1 x 6 x 8ft Primed Shiplap
- 2 – 1 x 4 x 8ft Primed pine boards
- 1 -2 3/4″ x 8ft Crown molding
- 1- 1 x 4 x 8ft Primed pine boards top piece
Tip: if you decide to buy boards that are not primed, plan to prime them before painting.
- Clear the mantel and lay down a drop cloth to protect the floor.
- Set up your ladder and gather your tools.
- Set up the miter box (we tend to cut outside. Be sure to remember your safety goggles)
- Measure and make your cuts on the Miter box starting with the shiplap. You may decide to cut in sections (ie first shiplap, then frame, then crown molding). Our mantel and the overmantel crown molding measure 69″ across. The shiplap panel (with the frame) measures 63″. The overall height of our overmantel is 42″.
- Using your level as a guide and starting directly on the mantel, begin installing the shiplap. Attach the shiplap to the wall using your finish nail gun. Place a nail through the top and bottom of each shiplap board. Below you can see the progression of the shiplap installation.
- Once the shiplap has been installed move to the frame. Use the 1 x 4 x 8ft Primed pine boards and cut them to fit around the shiplap panel. Extend the top portion of the frame to have a base to attach the crown molding. We used scrap pieces of 1 x 4 x 8ft Primed pine boards to build this extension to cut costs. (see the second photo below)
- Next move to the crown molding. We plan to devote an entire post to DIY crown molding. In the meantime, Home Depot has you covered in this post that includes videos.
- Fill the nail holes with painter’s putty, and use a wet rag to wipe off the excess. If needed sand the putty once it has dried.
- Seal the seams and around where the overmantel meets the wall with caulk. We use a caulking gun and a wet rag to remove the excess. Let dry.
- Using a paint brush paint the overmantel with two coats of latex paint, allowing the first coat to dry before moving on to the second coat. We used Benjamin Moore interior latex paint in semi-gloss. This is the same paint we used on the brick and new mantel. It is also the same paint that is on our living room woodwork.
Frequently Asked Questions
This overmantel cost us roughly $225.00. I find the best way to save a lot of money is to get creative with your supplies. You could create a very cool overmantel with simple stick tiles, they come in so many patterns. You could also do a very simple frame for your fireplace facelift. Another idea is to do a wallpaper or paint accent wall above your mantel. Even a small change can have a big impact and the end result will be beautiful!
Well, Pinterest of course! There’s tons of inspiration and lots of overmantel design options. Visit my fireplace makeover ideas board for inspiration.
You can choose a different color than white paint. We have off white walls in our living room but a wall color that pops would make the fireplace stand out more. For ease, you could use a paint sprayer to apply your paint. Learn more about paint options in my painted brick fireplace post.
Shiplap is a great option because it adds just enough texture without being too busy. I love the overmantels which are simple panels with an open space in the middle for a mirror or art. Regardless of the style and design element, adding an overmantel can give a big impact on your existing fireplace.
Decorating our Fireplace Update
This newly revamped fireplace is one of my favorite places to decorate. I DIY’d this fireplace cover and love the way it looks. Don’t worry it slides right off for when we want to use the fireplace! On the raised hearth I typically put fun storage baskets holding firewood and our dog’s toys. On the mantel, I will often use a collection of candles, books, and plants or flowers. This heavy antique mirror stays put and I have fun decorating around it.
Thanks for following along as we revamped our builder grade fireplace and gave it a whole new look. This space has come a long way and with a few simple changes we have made a huge difference to this space! This ugly duckly fireplace has transformed into a beautiful fireplace and we couldn’t be happier!
Thanks for visiting the blog today for this DIY Updated Fireplace with Shiplap Overmantel post!
Keep creating friends!