But since we found it so useful to see other's photos and process when we were researching how to build a facade over our brick fireplace, I thought I'd do a little blog rewind and actually write this project up.
First, as a reminder, here's our full design plans post. In short, our fireplace looked like this when we moved in:
Floor to ceiling dark red brick, over 10.5 feet wide, and not a whole lot going on, other than the glass fireplace doors on the left and a deep box on the right for wood storage.
We wanted to update the fireplace, but without painting the brick, and add interest and function, without it being permanent (hey, we're planning in living in this house for a long, long time. Who knows, dark red brick might come back into style!). So we researched building codes, found some inspiration online, verified that we didn't need a permit to do the update we had in mind, and my husband put together this mock up of our design in SolidWorks.
We planned on adding a long, beefy mantel across the full width, mounting our TV above the fireplace, and building out cabinets and shelves to balance the right side of the fireplace, while adding storage for all of our TV cables and accessories.
Annnnd, that is where I left off last January. Technically we got the bulk of the build done in about four weekends, but then I dragged my feet on the painting, caulking and finishing of it until June, which is why I never got around to posting about it. So let's go back to the beginning of the build and get this recap finally tied up!
First thing first, we started by building a bulkhead of sorts, over the top of the beam that ran across the top of the fireplace. The main purpose of this bulkhead was so we had someplace to attach the top of the shelves on the right side of the fireplace, otherwise they would look funny, attached to the ceiling, with the beam running behind them.
After determining how deep of a mantel we could have (given the code restrictions I detailed in my previous post), that helped determine our shelf depth, which in turn determined our bulkhead depth. So to start, we attached the sides to the front of the bulkhead, which would wrap around the sides of the existing beam.
To keep things nice and straight, after gluing the mitered edges, we used triangular blocks made out of 2x4s, to hold the pieces at 90 degree angles.
After the glue was dry, we brought it inside for a quick fit test, and to trace the placement of the room-spanning beams that would intersect the bulkhead. And since (of course!) the beams weren't quite straight, or level, or even the same size as each other, I made little templates out of cardboard, so we could be sure our cuts would be perfect, and we would get the tightest fit possible.
Next came the bottom side of the bulkhead that would wrap the bottom of the beam, and where the shelf tops would eventually attach.
Here we used some more right angle blocks to hold things in place, without having any exposed screws that would need patching later.
Once the bulkhead was built and dry, we still had to install it. Which was a pain because again, the surface we were working with was neither completely flat, or level with the surface of the brick (not that the brick was very flat or level itself). So we measured off the face of the beam we were covering at spaced out points, to figure out the varying sizes we would need to make spacer blocks. These spacer blocks, once mounted to the beam, would make sure the bulkhead was straight. As we measured, I noted the depths, anywhere from 2 1/16th to 2 1/4th, so we could make our spacer blocks.
And here they are, screwed into the beam, and ready to hold the bulkhead nice and flat, and parallel to the surface of the brick.
In a few places, we added additional blocks to the bottom, to make sure the tops of the shelves had something really secure to attach to, through the bottom of the bulkhead.
And with that, we brought the bulkhead in, slipped it into place, and screwed it to the spacer blocks.
It doesn't look like that much, but this took us a whole weekend to complete, including time spent buying wood and supplies. Dang pesky not level or straight surfaces we were working with! And this would continue to plague us the entire project--so much harder retrofitting old surfaces than just building something freestanding from scratch!
Up next: building and attaching a wood mantel to the brick.