Living in an old Tudor, I have a special affinity for English decorative elements and I cannot think of anything more English than a cast iron Victorian fireplace in a bedroom. Unfortunately, these are not easily found in the United States. The ones I did find cost around $1,000, definitely not in my budget! Fortunately, I was able to assemble a similar faux fireplace at a greatly reduced cost. Although we cannot heat the bedroom with this fireplace, it does add decorative warmth and ambiance to our space.
I started by stalking Ebay until I found an antique cast iron fireplace surround for just under $150, this was by far the greatest expense. I could have purchased one even less expensively if I hadn’t had my heart set on an arched fireplace. Once I had the surround, I could determine the measurements of the rest of my materials. I was working with a very narrow space, be sure to adjust all measurements to work with your available space.
Cast iron fireplace surround
Picture wire strong enough to hang the surround
Tin ceiling tile or another material to hang behind the surround
Thin lumber cut to the width of the surround
2” thick lumber cut to the width of the surround. to serve as the mantel
2” thick lumber cut larger than the bottom of the surround. to serve as the hearth
4 x 4” post for beneath the hearth
12 x 36” marble tile to sit on the floor
2 thick corbels
1 piece decorative moulding
Paint for wood
Cut all lumber to size
Glue the moulding to the thin lumber backing.
Sand, wipe away dust, and paint all wooden materials.
Spray paint the iron surround.
Glue the 2″ hearth on the 4 x 4 lumber.
Attach the tin ceiling tile or other backing to the wall with screws.
Place the marble tile, 4 x 4 lumber and 2″ hearth in the desired position.
Hang the surround so that it will just rest on the hearth materials.
Screw the thin lumber above the surround, hiding the screws behind the corbels
Hang the corbels on the thin lumber backing
Glue the 2″ mantel on the corbels, making sure the mantel is pushed back against the wallOnce your fireplace has been assembled, you can decorate the inside with logs, a fireplace screen, Christmas lights, or candles. The mantle can be decorated with a vase, clock, candles, books, lamps, pictures, or sculptures.
I have a minor obsession with centerpieces. Over the years, I have tried one thing after another, never satisfied with my efforts. I guess it is important to me because centerpieces are usually the focal point of any dining room, so I want ours to make a statement. Unfortunately, sometimes that statement was, “I am too tall to have a conversation over” or “I am really easy to knock over”. More than once it turned out to be, “I looked good on Pinterest, but I don’t work in real life”. Even when a centerpiece was attractive, the look was always marred by the practical items that needed to stay on the table for meals. Finally, it occurred to me–why not make those functional items into one centerpiece? Doing so had the added benefit of allowing us to stop moving items to and from the table every day.
There are many possibilities for a container in which to place your centerpiece items. The one that I used is technically a condiment server. When I was looking for just the right item, I also looked at trough planters, caddies, old wooden toolboxes, and even copper fish kettles. I especially wish I had seen this gorgeous wine trough to use as a centerpiece. Etsy has some great options, but I also looked on Amazon and Ebay.
The item that I eventually bought is 18″ long, which allows space for me to place food on either end when we eat. If you have a long table, you might go as long as 24″ or possibly longer. As you can see, mine is divided into sections, but I am not sure that I would choose a sectioned centerpiece again unless the sections were at least 7-8 inches wide. This would have allowed the trivets to fit in without angling them. Also pay attention to the height of the items that you want to put in there. These sections are 4″ deep and my salt and pepper shakers are just barely tall enough to easily access. If you use a shallower container, you might use jelly jars or other containers to hold items upright.
The items to put in your centerpiece depend entirely on what you typically need at the table. For us, that meant napkins, trivets, salt & pepper shakers, silverware, and the pink-striped tea towels that we use as place mats. You could also consider other condiments than do not require refrigeration. Another possibility would be placing all of your serving spoons in your centerpiece.
I hope that you are inspired to design your own useful centerpiece. Happy Decorating!
I didn’t particularly like the gas fireplace insert that came with our older home, but a new one was not in the budget. My next thought was to buy a fireplace screen to cover it up, but they were all expensive, unattractive, or you could see through them, which rather defeated the purpose. When I fell in love with an old stained glass window in an antique store, I knew that I had to have it, but could it serve as a fireplace screen if I attached some shelf brackets? I decided to buy it and figure out the “how to” later.
After some thought, the answer came after I bought the shelf brackets and realized that the metal part inside could be unscrewed and turned upside down, such that the large part where the screw was inserted was at the bottom and the smaller part was at the top. Once the screw was attached to the stained glass window, the window sat on the brackets, even without wood glue.
Still, for added strength and stability, I used wood glue and secured the bond with C-clamps to dry overnight. Incidentally, I chose these particular shelf brackets because the open design would allow me to easily attach the C-clamps.
Once the brackets were attached, I taped off the glass and painted all of the wood black.
It should be noted that a fireplace screen such as this should not be placed in front of an open flame. Our fireplace has a gas insert, so all flames are behind glass. A fire lit up the stained glass, but we just don’t light our fireplace all that often. I eventually tried Christmas lights hung on a couple of nails behind the glass. Much better!
The warm lights give the room a nice amber glow at night.
Please click here for a printable list of tools, materials, and instructions.