How to Create a Shabby Chic Fireplace
Are you looking for a creative way to give your fireplace a bold new makeover? Maybe you could try giving it a shabby chic facelift?
The shabby chic look is perfect for translating into fireplaces. Afterall, fireplaces already carry something of a vintage feel about them, having acted as the heart of our homes throughout the ages.
Not only this, but it is so easy to shabby chic a fireplace - not to mention fun for the craftier types among us!
So, if you have a fireplace in need of a stylish update, take a look at our guide for some new ideas...
What Does a Shabby Chic Fireplace Look Like?
The shabby chic look is all about embracing a ‘lived in’ feel across your decor and furniture. Rather than aiming for immaculate finishes and perfection, shabby chic interiors are a little more care-free - vintage, retro and upcycled furniture are all thrown into the mix to create something stylish and new!
So, how do you translate this into your fireplace?
Over the years, many people have given their fireplaces a ‘shabby chic’ makeover as it is an easy way to bring a personalised sense of style into your room. Typically, the look involves making your fireplace look fashionably 'distressed' - worn paint and wood are key elements to the classic shabby chic style.
What Do You Need to Create a Shabby Chic Fireplace?
To create a shabby chic fireplace, most of your efforts will be focussed on the fire surround or mantelpiece. This project works best with a wood surround, as the general process is to paint and distress it with sandpaper.
Here is a list what you will need to get ready before you start to shabby chic your fireplace:
- A wooden fire surround you are happy to paint
- Protective sheets and masking tape for the surrounding area
- Sugar soap and cleaning cloths
- Synthetic paint brushes in a few different sizes
- Lightweight and medium grade pieces of sandpaper
- Primer paint suitable for use on wood
- Chalky-finish wood furniture paint
- Clear furniture wax or a candle
- A finishing varnish or wax
- Protective wear such as rubber gloves and goggles
When it comes to your wood fire surround, take note of the finish it currently has and whether you will be able to paint over it. If it has a thick layer of very dark varnish, you might need to remove it first or rough up the surface with some sandpaper to get the paint to stick.
Shabby chic fireplaces look best when there are some details or carvings to work with, too - like our Carron Corbel Pine Fire Surround and Cast Tec Richmond Surround, which are both available unfinished so you can paint it and shabby chic it yourself right away from scratch.
How to Shabby Chic a Wooden Fireplace Surround…
Next, follow these DIY steps to easily create a shabby chic fireplace!
1. Prepare your materials and work area
Make sure you have everything you need and your room is well ventilated before you start. Give your fire surround a clean with some sugar soap and dry it thoroughly before starting. If the surround is still attached to the wall, place masking tape around the edges to protect it from any wayward paint.
2. Paint your fire surround
This is where you can start to get creative!
First, apply a layer of primer to the wood and allow it to dry.
Then, apply your first layer of paint. This can either be the same or a different colour to your second layer. This way, when you begin to sand and scrape away the paint, there are two different layers you can expose, giving a richer finish.
Another tip is to add some streaks of clear wax along a few chosen areas of your first layer of paint. Then, when you apply a second layer of a different colour, the paint will be repelled. This allows the first layer to show through, as if paint has been worn away over time.
If you’d rather skip the painting process entirely and get straight to the ‘shabbying’, you can find Carron wooden fire surrounds painted in a colour of your choice here at Direct Fireplaces. Simply choose from our most popular standard colours, or enter your own paint’s name or code from the manufacturer to receive it in a colour of your choice.
When it comes to which colour to choose for your fireplace, the typical shabby chic look is to go with neutrals or soft shades of grey, blue or green. Matte or chalky finishes also work best, as they add to the aged look and feel.
Related: How to Paint a Fireplace
3. Distress the fire surround with sandpaper
Once you are happy with your paint, leave it to dry completely, preferably overnight. The next day, give it a wipe to remove any wax you had put on in the previous step.
Now you can get to work with some sandpaper to create the perfect shabby chic fireplace!
Start by testing some smaller, less obvious areas first to see what kind of effect you can create with different sandpaper grades. When sanding away the paint, stick to edges or corbels where wear-and-tear would naturally occur. The best part about creating a shabby chic fireplace is that you can’t really go wrong - if you don’t like what you have done, simply paint over it and make it part of the design!
4. Apply a finish to the wood surround
Once you are happy with the shabby chic fireplace you have created, you can add a layer of varnish or wax to protect your work and bring out the details where the wood is exposed. Use a matte varnish if you want to keep away from a shiny finish.
5. Decorate your shabby chic fireplace
When all the paint is dry, make the most of your new fireplace style with some shabby chic decor along your mantel piece and hearth. Things like fairy lights, eclectic vases, lanterns, plants, candlesticks and ornate picture frames all look great - anything with a vintage touch will really set your shabby chic fireplace off!
Which Fire Works Best in a Shabby Chic Fireplace?
If you want to really impress with your shabby chic fireplace, why not update your fire to match? There are two different directions you could go in when choosing which fire to use...
You could stick with one of our traditional electric fires or gas fires to keep in with the period feel. Or, take a look at our cast iron fireplace inserts which are sure to look stunning if you want to recreate a Victorian style.
Alternatively, you could contrast your shabby chic fire surround with an ultra modern looking fire, such as our hole in the wall gas fires. The juxtaposition of old and new can be very striking!
If you want any advice on which fire surround to buy for your fireplace, you can contact Direct Fireplaces for more information on any of our products!
More interior design advice on the Direct Fireplaces blog…