Mid Century Fireplace

Budget Friendly Mantel & Tile Project

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In the previous posts about the fireplace, we took down the mantel, mounted the TV and selected a tile. That post is located here: Now that we have selected the tile, the process can begin. We are really happy with how it turned out overall, but there were a couple of mistakes along the way.

What we wanted for the mantel and tile:

  • Modern / Craftsman mantel – clean and crisp.
  • 76″ wide
  • 56″ High
  • 10″ Deep for the top shelf
  • Mid-century modern tile

Selection of the tile and mantel design

  1. We selected the pattern tile that had a more solid and classic Mid-Century Modern look and feel: Jeffrey Court Fiore Gray (@Home Depot) $17.96 (sqr. ft) 6 in. x 6 in. x Glossy Ceramic Wall Tile
  2. In order to hide wiring and span the side of the fireplace, I opted to build a Craftsman type mantel. I wanted a cubbyhole for all of my wiring. I had HDMI cables for the connection to our adjoining room where the Pioneer Elite receiver sits in a secured rack. HDMI for the Nintendo Switch, Speaker Cable for the center channel, power wires and finally a fiber optic cable to run to the Receiver for the sound from the TV. Otherwise these would be all over the place and unsightly! Mama is not going to have any of that…

The build process

Once we removed the old mantel, I needed to paint the brick fireplace. The background color we decided to keep as is and touch up some spots. It was an off white satin finish. I did some painting first but waited to finalize as I was adding tile – so I thought let me build first and come back to paint. I did pick up color swatches from Home Depot. A shout out to them, as their experts were able to match the color perfectly!

Next was the process of tiling the fireplace itself. I measured what seemed like 16 times to get it as close to symmetrical as possible to align the tile across the fireplace. Looking back, I would have done one step differently. It all goes to the patterns. I will expose my mistake later :(. However this helped me to start on one side to get exact measurements for the fireplace mantel. I also figured out the spacing and how many tiles would be needed.

I knew we wanted the top shelf of the mantel to be 72 inches wide and needed it to also be slightly lower. With this in mind, I measured and measured… Then I started to cut and screw together the mantel. I did several temporary mounts to get the height exactly where I needed it.

One thing to note: Always pre-drill holes, and use wood glue to secure the wood together. Once we were satisfied with the height, I mounted a 2×4 to the brick. I used the same process I used to mount the TV with pre-drilled holes and anchors.

Installing the tile and mounting the mantel

Now we were on the home stretch. I finished up the tile, mounted and painted 2 coats of gloss white paint on the mantel. Then I drilled holes for all wiring and fitted the end panels and made them removable. This allows complete access to the mantel for storage of wiring (including a surge protector). There is PLENTY of space. Then I finished up the tile by grouting with a white grout.

The total time, was maybe about 2 days I would guess if I put all my time together. Considering I type for a living I was OK with that. My biggest delay was Home Depot at the time did not have everything in stock. It took a couple of weeks just to get all of the tile in place.

Completed!!! While I am not 100% satisfied, we are pretty happy. It really sets a much better focal point in the room. Plus having the front stage to my theater is a major plus, and don’t forget the 65″ TCL Roku just a little bigger than my Sony 55 but it is a perfect fit.

My lesson learned

  • The tile pattern was not 100% matched on each side. It was a simple mistake, but looking back I could have been more aware. It can however be fixed down the road. The root cause of the error – was the fireplace has an odd size which was known I started on one end, and continued over to the other side – so yeah beginners luck and error. I won’t ever forget this one.
  • Mantel, my first attempt to make something out of wood that was semi complex. Simple in design (and that was on purpose to match our Mid-Century Modern house). However, I am 90% sure I will do a mantel 2.0 project down the road. I would like to add to the look and feel and it would be easier to start from scratch.

Project Costs Final:

Total project cost: $784 (not including the TV and Mount)

At the end of the day, projects like this get more expensive quickly. You may think to yourself, “Hey, this is not going to be too much of an investment,” but it is ALWAYS more than you think. The tile of course will be your biggest cost driver. That being said, It would have cost me about $2,000 to have someone do it for us. So if this is not budget friendly I don’t know what is.

Until next time!

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