What I Did With the Big Brown Elephant

When we moved into our new home we had this huge problem.  It was a big dark wood fireplace mantel with paneling and trim that went all the way up to the ceiling.  Yes, all the way up to the 11 foot ceiling.  It was TOO. MUCH. BROWN.  We couldn’t even begin to decide what color furniture to put in the family room with that big brown elephant casting his shadow over the whole place.

The big brown FireplaceMy husband, who has a good eye for decorating, suggested we paint it white to match the rest of the woodwork in the house and that which we plan to add.  That was good, but I sat and stared at it for hours, I knew that wasn’t going to be enough.  Of course, watching some episodes of Fixer Upper with the Gaines might have sent me in the right direction, and that direction was shiplap!

Fireplace with embellsihmentsI would like to say this was a project my husband and I took on together, but it was pretty much a project I supervised and he did all of the actual work.  He is a good, good man.  Once he understood what I wanted, he did an incredible job.  The picture above shows the embellishments on the fireplace that do not jive with my desired style, so those really needed to go first.

Removing the embellishmentsHere he is, the amazing man removing those wood ornamentations piece by piece.  My job was to run around the room and pick up all the little pieces that flew off.

Fireplace with trim removedThose two little pieces came off fairly easily, but the corbels beneath the mantel were not budging.  We think they are back screwed on, so they will stay for now until I have a professional in to remove them.

Sanding the fireplace surroundNext came the sanding to knock off the high gloss finish and prepare this baby for paint! Then it will be time for the shiplap!  Now is where I have to get honest and upfront.  This is not really shiplap, just looks like it when it is when it is finished, so this is my “faux” shiplap.  Real shiplap planks are usually inexpensive wood anywhere from 3 to 10 inches wide.  It has a little groove cut into the edge of it, so you get that look of a gap, but not a true gap in the finished project.  Here is a picture that gives you an idea of what a shiplap board looks like:


It was time to head off to the Home Depot for some wood.  I don’t think shiplap is even something you can purchase without ordering ahead of time unless you are going to a specialty lumber yard.  We wanted the shiplap to match the higher quality wood trim on the rest of the facade so we went with a high quality pine board.

Shiplapping a fireplace facadeWe had a little extra glitch in that the top third of the facade is raised out 3/4 of an inch so 1′ x 2″ furring strips would bring the shiplap on the bottom out so that the shiplap wall is all the same depth from the mantel to the top molding.

Shiplap Fireplace surroundTo get the look of shiplap, we put nickels between the boards as they were nailed onto the furring strips. That gave just the right amount of space to simulate the rabbet on real shiplap boards.

Shiplap renovation of a fireplaceHere is how the work progressed, with the second board being nailed into place.  You can see in this photo how the furring strips had to be added up to the section that stood out 3/4″.  Luckily this was an easy fix.  You can also see how the second board tucked right under the edge of the television.

Shiplap fireplace project.We bought 13 boards, each of them a 1″ x 6″, of select pine.  Eight feet long worked for us, we then had to cut them to fit.  A note here about the television.  This TV was here when we bought the house and we didn’t want to replace it yet, so we also did not want to have to take it down for this project.  It was a simple matter to cut the boards that would go behind the television into shorter pieces to secure them around the mount for the TV.  I don’t think even if I peer behind the television I can see that the boards don’t go all the way across.

Shiplap Fireplace project moving along.Here is a picture of the shiplap all in place.  There was a small gap at the top that had to be caulked, but otherwise it fit perfectly.  We added some of the 3/4″ furring strips to the sides where the ends of the boards fit to give it a more finished look.  Now was time to begin painting.

Shiplapping a FireplaceIt is getting exciting now, that may just be a coat of primer, but it is already looking better!

Fireplace with shiplapHere it is, the shiplap fireplace!  I love my new fireplace and I can now begin to imagine what furniture would go in this room.  It doesn’t hurt that the yellow walls are gone now, replaced by this very light blue.  The paint we used is Benjamin Moore Lily White.   The big old elephant is gone!

I’ll be sharing this at the following link parties: The Scoop |  Friday Features Linky Party | Home Matters Linky Party | Inspire Me Monday | From Dream to Reality  | Wordless Wednesday | Create and Share DIY and Recipe Party | No Rules Weekend Blog Party  | Metamorphosis Monday  | Show and Share | LouLou Girls Fabulous Party | Making Broken Beautiful | Your Inspired Design  | Home Sweet Home  | BTTCG Blog Party | Show and Share | Tuesdays At Our Home  | Tweak It Tuesday  | Talented Tuesday |  The Creative Circle

Similar Posts


  1. WOW! What a difference! I love your new fireplace.
    Bravo to you both for completing such a project! Can’t wait to see how you decorate the rest of the room. Rosie @ The Magic Hutch

  2. I love what you did with that fireplace !!! Totally different look….and with the yellow walls gone…WOW!! You and your hubby did a fantastic job!

    1. Thank you so much Jenna, we are so happy with it, we just sit and stare at it! The sofas are ordered…but we don’t expect them until February, but I can’t wait to see the room I have imagined in my head, too!

  3. I have a hideous fireplace and am wondering if I could do something similar with it. Thanks for sharing on the #HomeMattersParty . I hope you will join us again next week.

  4. What a major transformation! Plus, I love shiplap. I also enjoyed all of the great details you provided. I’m pinning this, so I can refer to it when we get to adding a touch of shiplap to our home. Thanks for sharing with us a the Merry Monday Link Party! Hope to see you again on Sunday night!

  5. ok, that looks amazing! You guys did a superb job! The shiplap was the right call, but I too am a Fixer Upper fan, so of course the color and texture are perfect….lol

    It looks wonderful in your Family room.

  6. Love it! Pinned and tweeted! Thank you so much for sharing this with us at our linky party. We hope to see you next Monday @ 7 because we can’t wait to see your new creations! Happy Wednesday! Lou Lou Girls

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *