• Stephen & David

Abandoned Mantel Made Contemporary

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

We have been posting a lot about this on Instagram and I have been dying to blog more about it.

The Idea

David and I had been gawking over an Instagram story by NS Builders (a really awesome and inspiring contractor) that featured a new gas fireplace they were installing. That’s when it occurred to us…why are WE not installing a gas fireplace?! We also realized that it would be the perfect visual anchor in our new living room (which it was desperately lacking.) We had already decided were going to frame in the existing opening to the Mud Room, so this was the perfect location for a new fireplace and entertainment wall.


We then dove into fireplace inspiration images. We really wanted to find the right balance of traditional and contemporary, to tie our contemporary kitchen design to the rest of the house. We thought we might do this by mixing the traditional fireplace opening ratio with a more contemporary surround.

The Ah-ha moment!

With that in mind, we recalled our friend Josh Linder of Evolve Residential designed for our friend Rich’s condo in the South End. The traditional mantel is painted jet black, giving it a very contemporary feel.

That’s when it hit us….We HAVE an extra mantel! Buried in the basement under a pile of salvaged trim boards, paneling, and built-ins is the mantel that was saved after the previous owner removed the fireplace that separated the living room and the kitchen. How awesome would it be if we could re-use the mantel, return it to the room it was removed from, AND get the look we are going for? Well, I think we can.

The Design

After doing a little modeling of the existing fireplace mantel, I was able to design it into the room using the SketchUp “Look and Feel” model I have been using to visualize our design ideas. I also used it figure out the maximum size gas fireplace we were going to be needing. I like to work back and forth using SketchUp to visualize and Revit to draft my floorplans.

Knowing very little about gas fireplaces, I took a trip to the aptly named “The Fireplace Store” at Mazzini Plumbing in Quincy. They were super helpful and we found the perfect fireplace for what we were looking to do. We decided to go with the Slimline Series by Heat & Glo. I really didn’t want the fireplace bump-in to protrude too far into the room so we were sold on the surprising shallow firebox that can fit into framing that is only around 16 inches deep.

We still need to decide what we are going to use for a stone or tile surround, what kind of built-ins we want on either side of the fireplace, and a lot of other details. What we do know is that we want to paint the fireplace the same dark gray as the cabinets in the adjacent kitchen. While the idea of painting original woodwork is shocking… and I’m kind of struggling with the idea internally… I take solace in knowing we are returning the original fireplace to the room it was intended for and giving it new life 🙂

Here is a picture from a previous listing of the house, a shot of the new framing, and one of our design. Stay tuned!