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6 Tips to make a DIY Cottage Fireplace and $ 100 Lowes Gift Card Giveaway

The little 1905 cottage I am working on it coming along. The drywall is all done and we are painting this week. For the last couple of Saturdays we have been working on the fireplace. I wanted a really classic cottage-y look with a planked wall. And I am so happy with the way it’s turning out. Here are 6 tips I have learned as we have created this Cottage Fireplace.

Plus, Lowe’s is giving away a $100 Lowes Gift Card to one of you at the end of the post so you can create something awesome at YOUR house!!

We used MDF for all of the detailing. Why MDF and not wood? MDF is very easy to sand and make smooth. It kicks up a lot of sawdust when you cut or route it, but it looks good.

(here’s a little progress collage — the before pictures, framed, new drywall and now with new tile and planked)

Fireplace top (above mantel)

We used 5 1/2 – inch MDF, cut into panels of appropriate length. We used a plain base molding and then used a rounded bit on the router to make both the top and bottom look the same. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s not —  not much more than a couple of minutes per board. In other words, one of the edges was already round, and we just used the router to round the other edge to match.

Even though we’ve re-framed and drywalled this 1905 house, the walls are still not perfectly plumb, so we found that we had to compensate for that by not cutting all of the boards at once — we couldn’t cut more than a few boards at a time, then we’d need to re-measure. No matter how new your house is, this is a good idea.

To create the paneled look for the back, we used these MDF panels and just lined them up one on top of another. We used a level and started from the bottom. Why the bottom? Because we knew that we would be covering the top with crown molding.

We used a nail gun to pop each board into place.

To finish the trim, we used MDF boards on each side to finish the look and make the sides even with the mantel.

We had originally planned to just caulk the interior corners, which were about 45-degree bends. But that didn’t look finished enough for me, so we got some plastic inside corner molding, used the table saw to “rip” the interior edge off, and then put it in the corners. It was a great fit.

Fireplace bottom (below mantel)


Our building codes required 6 inches of non-combustible clearance around the fireplace opening — what a perfect opportunity for subway tile! I picked up a bunch of the smaller subway tile at Lowe’s.

I also used some metal edging (it’s professional grade stuff from Schluter) on the edge of the hearth and around the fireplace insert to give it a finished look and protect the edges. How did I find this? My tile expert recommended it (and he has a great tile-it-yourself video you can buy too!).

Underneath the hearth

Underneath the hearth I used the same MDF that I had used above the mantel, but instead I laid them side by side vertically. Since the floor in this old house is not totally straight, I had to cut them each individually. I used a lot of caulk at the top to smooth out the look.

While I haven’t done the base molding in the rest of the house yet (since I still have to stain the hardwood), I’m planning to use the taller molding — so I used a smaller piece in front of the fireplace and used my compound miter saw to cut 45-degree ends for now.

Between the hearth and the mantel

I wanted to try something simple on the sides of the fireplace, so I used the same MDF that I used for the hearth and cut pieces to build up each side even with the tile.

I had to do a lot of manual trimming to accommodate a wall that wasn’t perfectly straight, but by doing so it straightened the look a lot.

I then did simple molding frames using the same kind of MDF trim — but this time in the smallest size. I routed both sides of these to give it a uniformly rounded look, too, and used the compound miter saw.

Of course, all of this was attached with my handy nail gun.

Fireplace mantel

I could not find sheets of MDF that matched the exact thickness of the MDF molding I was using, so I instead bought the closest I could find — slightly smaller. We cut the top to size, using two pieces of MDF. To join the pieces, I used wood glue and screwed the seam in place with another (scrap) board overnight to hold it in place while it dried.

I cut another piece of MDF to fit underneath the mantel overhang (I cut the mantel to overhang a bit), and glued it in place, holding it together with clamps overnight.

I used my birthday router again to round the edges to match.

We slid the mantel into place after we’d finished the top and the bottom of the fireplace.


Just one comment about caulking — not only does it make everything look better .. but in this case, I purposely did not caulk between the “panels” above or below the fireplace to give it a more cottage-y look.

Other thoughts

the primed MDF saves paint time later.

Don’t be in a rush to finish; it takes some time to get everything right, and it’s okay if you miscut something or mess up. We all do.

Don’t forget the spray grout sealer!

I’ll talk more about the fireplace insert I chose — and why — in another post

And now — the awesome Lowe’s folks are giving a $100 Lowes gift certificate to one of YOU — so you can tackle a project on your DIY list! Here’s how to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join Lowe’s on Facebook for more great ideas and sign up for their FREE Creative Ideas Magazine with TONS of great IDY ideas and instructions!!

lowes creative


Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!!


  1. how I could put much needed shelves in my garage

  2. Thomas Murphy says:

    I would like to do the Glowing Snowflake project from Lowe’s Creative Ideas

  3. Thomas Murphy says:

    I would use it to paint my bathroom

  4. Amanda Korty says:

    I followed loves and lowes on pinterest, and Jenifer hadfield. One thing that I think I would make is a kitchen set for my little girl, she loves to help mommy and daddy in the kitchen and that would be a great Christmas gift for her to wake up to on Christmas morning. I could see her playing with it every morning and all day long. I would also like to tackle building a mud room for right by the front door so we can hang our jackets and keys and put our shoes their too.

  5. Jessica A says:

    Lowe’s Creative Ideas-I love the sprucing up a patio with stone. That’s another project to add to our list-building a back patio/porch.

  6. Jessica A says:

    I have sooo many projects I want to tackle….where do I even begin?? Living room, complete gut & remodel of our ONLY bathroom (that currently has no tub-only a shower), turning spare bedroom into a dressing room….the list goes on and on…

  7. I would redo my living room wall area.

  8. I have so many projects to do in my house it is not even funny. Would love a mantel over my fireplace in time for Christmas stockings!

  9. We are redoing my bedroom and I would love to use this gift card for painting and a light fixture

  10. I would work on our redesigning our master bedroom!

  11. Becky Hinman says:

    I would put it toward Christmas decorations for my daughter’s classroom!

  12. i would use it to fix our bathroom!

  13. Diana Conway says:

    I would put in a new bathroom floor

  14. On their website, I’d like to tackle how to Update a Dated Kitchen Ceiling

  15. I’d plant a rose garden.

  16. I want to redecorate my daughter’s bedroom

  17. I need to start a veggie garden, and $100 would go a long ways!

  18. I would repaint our bathrooms. I tweeted the giveaway.

  19. I could really use the help to organize our craft/junk room.

  20. Linda Jernigen says:

    This is great as I was planning to add a fireplace in my living room! Thanks for the help!

  21. Actually, I miss my band saw ( sold it to move down here ) and I would put this towards a new one.

  22. The toilets in the new house we are buying.

  23. We are 3/4 finished putting in a DIY plywood floor in our kitchen/living room. $100 would let us finish the floor and the trim!

  24. I would love to make the fold away laundry rack!

  25. We need to redo our front porch!!

  26. I would use the gift card to make a new surround for our fireplace.

  27. I’m wanting to redo my bedroom!

  28. mary fanara coleman says:

    I could use it for we are redoing our bathroom.

  29. Oh I love the Glowing Snowflake project! I would love to see you do that one! :)

  30. Hi Jen! Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway! Gosh, I don’t know where to start! I think I’d put it towards our guest bathroom. It’s VERY old and needs a fresh makeover. I’m thinking white subway tiles, a petestal sink, new shower doors…LOL…this would go towards that :)

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  31. I’d like patio floor paint – our patio floor looked stained and dirty even when it’s clean.

  32. Hands down I would love to put some shelving on both sides of my fire place!

  33. I would paint the living room

  34. We need a new baseboard heater in our living room and I would use it for that. Thanks for the giveaway.

  35. Replace a Bath Vanity!

  36. Build steps for the deck & porch

  37. sallie fitzpatrick says:

    I would tackle my bathroom faucets and shower heads!

  38. barb mathers says:

    thanks, jen!!

  39. From Lowe’s Creative Ideas I would like to build the simple guitar hook. We have 4+ guitars at any given time & our little babes love to strum the strings. It would be a lot safer to have them off the ground stands and transfer them to the wall hooks

  40. I would use the Lowes card to make a Ruler Growth Chart.

  41. I would add Board and Batten to our “soon to be” living area.

  42. Katie Murray says:

    I am redoing my Master and would use it for that.

  43. Thanks for this giveaway .. love the idea of making the “Fold-Away Laundry Room Drying Rack” :-)

  44. We have been remodeling/renovating our house over the last year (while living in it) and I have a question about your r-tech foam. Does it have a radiant barrier? Is it your only insulation?

    I pinned your post: http://pinterest.com/pin/109493834661909460/

  45. Need new flooring in living room

  46. Denise Wilson says:

    We’ve wanted to get chickens, so I’d be interested in the chicken coop project!

  47. Denise Wilson says:

    We need to do some painting in our house. Plus, we want to put up some kind of tile backsplash in the kitchen.

  48. I would put up shelving in our garage.

  49. I would really love to try this drying rack – our floor model rack broke last week. I love the idea of folding it against the wall when not in use.http://www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/projects/Fold_Away_Laundry_Room_Drying_Rack_0211.aspx

  50. I love Lowe’s. My next DIY project is tiling the powder room floor.

  51. I would redo the linoleum floor in my bathroom!

  52. I’d build raised beds for my garden.

  53. Linda Smith says:

    I need to paint my laundry room and a cupboard that goes in it.

  54. Melissa Kelly says:

    My kids bathroom could use a facelift, and I would put the $100 towards that.

  55. My son’s bathroom needs some work.

  56. Materials for my new raised garden beds

  57. Build a headboard from Ana White’s plans!

  58. Christie Holmes says:

    Build a headboard for my spare room. It desperately needs it!

  59. Ashley R. says:

    I would try making that wooden floor mat from their website.

  60. Ashley R. says:

    Well, I live in an apartment, so I can’t do a whole lot of home improvement. But I’d spend it on some wood for crafts and probably some herbs to create an indoor garden in the spring.

  61. Nancy Lewis says:

    I’d love to paint the rooms in my house. They are all white and need some warm feelings!!

  62. Your giveaways are so amazing! Love it!

  63. I want to fix my office up. It’s a catch all of everyones crap right now :( This would be just the boost to tackle this job!

  64. I would use to tile the backsplash in my kitchen.

  65. Shelley D. says:

    I would use it to improve my chicken coop.

  66. I need a new bathroom floor thkanks

  67. Mara Yager says:
  68. Mara Yager says:

    I want to repaint my kitchen cupboards!

  69. Denise Beebe says:

    I’m stuck in the middle of a kitchen redo. I’d definitely use the Lowe’s $100.00 gift card to help me finish. Everything I’ve used so far, from the paint, to the lighting, to the cabinets, I’ve already purchased from Lowe’s. I truly love that store. I’ve got my eye on a new gas stove there.

  70. I badly need to paint my woodwork so I would spend it on paint at Lowe’s.

  71. Need to finish up mouldings here.

  72. I would love to put in a new front door to my home! We get such drafts in and its very old and missing some decorative molding.

  73. we have a old house -always something to do so we visit Lowe’s frequently!

  74. Kari GIllette says:

    This is impressive! Makes me want to paint my fireplace white…But I also want to make some changes in my kitchen…lots of house projects on my list!!

  75. We have a whole basement to finish…and I’d LOVE to add a fireplace upstairs. :)

  76. Great giveaway – this would help a lot in giving our kitchen cabinets a new facelift, thanks!

  77. Awesome giveaway!

  78. We are rebuilding our cabin. So many projects to do there!

  79. We’re in the middle of redoing our mudroom. We could use new light fixtures.

  80. Carrie Pennington says:

    I would update my bathroom light fixture!

  81. I would use the $100 gift card to finish the plank walls on our living room wall. I’d also use some of it for a backsplash area in my kitchen. Both are projects I’ve had on hold for a little while because of the holidays.

  82. April was in CT now CA says:

    I would use it to help build a gardening bench!

  83. I loved all the Lowe’s creaative ideas!

  84. I would paint my coffee table and end tables first.

  85. I would use it to make gifts.

  86. Jennie Bobbins says:

    I’d like to make or buy some book shelves!

  87. I love Lowe’s and spend tons of time there! I’d love to update the lighting in our home and maybe a little tile work too, just to start!

  88. I want to put shelves in my kids’ room closet.

  89. wholesomewomanhood says:

    We want to put a door leading from our office into the garage. This gift card would go a long way to helping us make it happen! :-)

  90. Michelle Carter says:

    Finishing our basement or updating our main bathroom.

  91. I want to paint my orangey oak kitchen cabinets this winter. A Lowe’s gift card would be awesome to use for paint!

  92. I’d love to brighten up our foyer.

  93. I would finish our backyard patio of flagstone with small gravel in between the rocks.

  94. I have a built in I want to tackle!

  95. Allison C says:

    I would like to finish my bathroom. It is primed, but needs paint, fixtures, and some tiling.

  96. Painting and stenciling our side entrance. Or insulating our attic. Or..a list of other house things. : ) Thanks for the giveaway.

  97. I need to paint the fence around the cottage at the crossroads.

  98. We would probably use it toward a new front door, desperately needed!

  99. I want to repaint!

  100. breanna sackrey says:

    With a 100 dollar gift cert. I would build some entry way storage for our coats, shoes, and bags. I would also like to plant some fruit trees in the spring.

  101. I like the desk top terrarium. I think having one on my desk at work would be nice.

  102. Stephanie Lanphear says:

    I would finish my kitchen remodel (at least part of it!)

  103. Angelique Hardeman says:

    Adore the planked wall!

  104. I really want to give my bathroom a makeover! I would love to win!!!! :)

  105. I would love to make the tinsel JOY wall decor. Thanks for the giveaway.

  106. Gayle Warner says:

    Great fireplace!

  107. amy Allen says:

    I would love to try the industrial shelves. I’m in love with the industrial look but it always seems to be expensive so if the DIY turns out nice that would be awesum!

  108. The trim board around my door frames needs replaced

  109. I have spent the $100 gift card a thousand different ways already in my dreams 😉

  110. Erin Young says:

    i would love to make some wall art with supplies from lowes :)

  111. I just got a fabulous free dresser that needs some tlc. This would be perfect to complete that project!

  112. We’re going to either paint the kitchen or work on our mantle wall update. A gift card would help a lot with our skinny budget. The fireplace wall in your post is gorgeous! I may change direction on what I’d envisioned because of it!

  113. Well – lots of projects…to use the Gift Card…I think paint and some wood for some board and batten in the family room!!! :) I have a billion more projects to go to Lowes for though!!! :)

  114. Angel skelton says:

    Thanks for the great contest! I shared this with my buds on FB!

  115. I actually JUST finished our wood planked fireplace over the weekend. We looked everywhere for the white Subway tile and couldn’t find it (our Lowes didn’t have it) and settled for a cream color tile similar to yours. But I digress….. :)

    I would use the $100 for paint and a great mirror I saw at Lowes for the planked wall above them mantle. It would finish it perfectly!

  116. Jennifer S says:

    I’d love some new exterior lights on the house!

  117. Help with the cost of adding a room to our basement.

  118. Holy cow, we have so many projects to do! I’d probably put it towards finishing our basement bathroom!

  119. Stuff to redo our entryway

  120. Deanna G. says:

    Organizing my garage.

  121. we need to update our back hallway…plus I love lowes entertainment center idea!

  122. I would use my Lowes gift card to update some lighting and build an office room that would also help open up our entry way. 1970’s house could use an update.

  123. we just moved and it would be nice to get some of our things organized so i would need to buy those things

  124. Thanks so much! Happy Halloween to you! I’d use it to get myself a girl’s set of tools so I don’t have to search in the garage when I need an electric whatnot!

  125. I would use the gift card to help update my kitchen – it is still stuck in the late 70s.

  126. I’m considering repainting my bath, this would give me the push I really need!

  127. I would make the Fine Lines Wine Rack

  128. Wish we had a fireplace! I am starting to redo things in our home so we can rent/sell it when we move to St. Louis!

  129. I have several pieces of furniture that needs painting and my bathroom needs a makeover.

  130. The fireplace looks great!

  131. candice wise says:

    My husbands feet…not with a sandblaster:-) with the shoes that help stand for long periods that your selling on special right now

  132. Sprucing up the master bedroom but money is tight and projects are many so it’s really slow going. Would love to make the cute bench on Lowe’s Creative Ideas for in front of the bed.

  133. I shared on pinterest and twitter.

  134. I want to make a pallet ottoman table!

  135. The serving tray…it’s easy, stylish, and versatile.

  136. I would love to be able to do a duct tape rose boquet! How awesome is that and how awesome is this giveaway! Just in time for fall projects – could definitely use this in my front flower bed, which is not awesome right now!

  137. We’re working on remodeling out kitchen and this would be great towards new floors!

  138. Wow, you do amazing work. Thanks for the chance to win the $100 gift card. I think I would re-do my master bedroom if I won. Fingers crossed.

  139. Oh my, so much to do when you own a home. I think I would replace the ugly gold chandeliers with something more rustic.

  140. Paint the house or install a backsplash.

  141. I think I’d start…I mean finish my bathroom. Possibly the floors. Or the walls….

  142. I would put a vessel sink in our bathroom!!

  143. I just acquired a scroll saw so I believe I would use my card to stock up on wood, paint and other knick knacks at lowes that could create lots of unique art for my house and others!

  144. my dining room turned craft room!

  145. I would definitely update some lights around the house.

  146. The list is miles long. Start with the basement and if there’s any left work on the fireplace.

  147. Elaine Bowman says:

    I am currently trying to do a Home Office/Craft Studio! I am just painting, but will be buying flooring and cabinetry…I could soooo use this right now!!! Thanks for the chance to win!

  148. I might use a gift card toward a fireplace mantel :)

  149. http://pinterest.com/pin/270216046363257343/ I’m loving the address sign

  150. Natalie G. says:

    The fabric headboard- always wanted to make one!

  151. I would use the card towards flooring for the family room.

  152. I would ove to make the pumpkin pillars!

  153. Litsa Jackson says:

    For shelves in basement…..

  154. Kimberly Deacon says:

    I have been wanting to make new tables for my living room. I would use it to help pay for supplies.

  155. Love this fireplace. I’ve always wanted to redo an older home <3

  156. I ould use it towards some type of heat ours went out.Very cold today

  157. I’m in the middle of repainting a couple of rooms in my house, and that Lowe’s gift card sure would help out!!

  158. Thresia Smith says:

    I shared via Pinterest and twitter, would love to update my bathroom!

  159. I would tackle our bedroom. It’s kinda plain and blah at this time.

  160. Awesome tutorial. Our fireplace definitely needs some design help. I entered your contest and shared it on my facebook page. Thanks!

  161. i would love to do this project (:

  162. I’d pick out some new lighting for our bedroom!

  163. Probably give one of the rooms a boost with new paint.

  164. I would love to try the stenciled medicine cabinet project on their website!

  165. Mary Field says:

    I would repaint my living room!

  166. I shared on my Ask Anna FB.

  167. I would buy ceiling paint. I have two floors worth of ceilings that are in dire need.

  168. I shared on Twitter!

  169. Thank you for this giveaway!!

  170. I would redo the tile on my fireplace too!!

  171. throuthehaze says:

    I would paint my bedroom

  172. I would definitely use it towards lighting in the Master Bedroom! Thanks for the opportunity :0)

  173. I would do my faux beams I’ve been wanting to do :)

  174. I would make a custom headboard for our bed!

  175. I have so many DIY projects, we are in the middle of a DIY kitchen remodel so that would help tremendously!

  176. I want to put it towards an upholstered headboard I’ve been dying to make!

  177. I would put it towards a new grill for my husband.

  178. paint for my living room or a new light for over the sink.

  179. Get pendant lighting for my kitchen!


  180. I tweeted about this!

  181. I could definitely use for our new place!

  182. I would use this for Christmas decor items.

  183. Shared via FB!

  184. I would use it to finish a planked wall in my bedroom.

  185. jess44903 says:

    I’ll be giving this to my parents, because they will be redoing the bathroom. This will help them out a great deal, especially with the Holidays approaching!

  186. Nicole H. says:

    I like the duct tape roses!

  187. Now that the weather is nice here, our patio could use some attention. :-)

  188. Andrea B. says:

    I have a backyard fire pit I would love to build.

  189. Nicole H. says:

    Our Fireplace mantel is in need of some love too!

  190. We are working on the flooring in our basement. That’s how we’d spend the gift card.

  191. I would try and tackle a DIY farmhouse table!

  192. Stephanie says:

    Just found out I’m pregnant with our third baby…. but we never finished building he second one’s nursery! Oops! So yeah, that’s where we’ll be for the next 9 months. Burried in sawdust in the nursery.:-)

  193. I’d like Halloween Pumpkin Pillars project.

  194. My back porch needs a mini makeoever!

  195. Bathroom update.

  196. I would do a backsplash in my kitchen!

  197. Daisy Hovey says:

    I would repaint my daughter’s bedroom in dark tone colors!

  198. I’d use $100 gift card to Lowes to get my bedroom finished. We just bought our ceiling paint to get started.

  199. I’d like to make the DIY Fabric Headboard

  200. my light fixtures need some lovin!

  201. We’re redoing our fireplace too! I’d use the gift card for that!

  202. realcoake says:

    I think I would like to overhaul my laundry room. See if I could make it cuter and better organized. It is also the only room in my house that hasn’t been painted…it needs paint! Thanks for the giveaway.

  203. i would work on a project for my daughter’s room!

  204. I would like to try the headboard project on the lowes creative website! Also, I am sharing this giveaway on my blog! Thanks for the chance to win!

  205. The kids bathroom is in dire need of a major overhaul!

  206. I would actually use it to help buy the fire brick needed to install our new wood stove going in this winter!

  207. Rebekah Stockton says:

    I would use the money to start building up a supply of power tools.

  208. Our washer just broke! We need to tackle that project!

  209. Updating my bedroom!

  210. I would want to tackle my basement… lots to do down there, but first up, ceiling replacement!

  211. I shared the giveaway on facebook

  212. I would make the easel for my daughter:)

  213. I shared the giveaway on Pinterest

  214. I would love to paint my living room and finish the two bedrooms I started when I moved in almost 3 years ago!

  215. Kelly Riley says:

    I love all of the garden improvements and decorating ideas. We are constantly working on our flower beds trying to make them look special and I saw a birdbath with succulants in it, which I liked because Im obsessed with using succulants!

  216. Shannon Macklam says:

    I need to redo my fireplace!

  217. walesptf@hotmail.com says:

    we’re doing our kitchen and the kids’ bedrooms over so we have a lot to use it for :)

  218. I need to buy paint. My walls really need it!

  219. I need to spruce up my apartment pretty badly. This would definitely help!

  220. Sharlene Piscitelli says:

    I need to replace some flooring in my home.

  221. I’d like to buy wood to make a headboard like I saw on Pinterest.

  222. Needed for master bedroom redo

  223. We’re working on our bedroom so would use it for paint and rugs.

  224. Teresa Novak says:

    I would use the $100 gift card to buy thing for the kitchen update I am planning.

  225. I would finish our bathroom redo.

  226. Paint for my living room and some mums for the front porch

  227. I am redoing my bathroom using only what I have on hand and would looove to have a gift card towards getting it done!

  228. Hannah H. says:

    We need to finish our master bathroom, so I’d use the card to buy the paint and vanity lights & mirror!

  229. My fireplace looks like a hot mess! Help me! :-)

  230. My fireplace is a hot mess! Help me! :-)

  231. greatflowergirl says:

    I need to update my bath,,

  232. I would love to make over my fireplace. It’s pretty 70’s looking….

  233. Christina says:

    I love viewing remodels of anything.

  234. Love the Halloween mirror! What a fun way to jazz up a cheap mirror!

  235. I’d use the $100 towards a compound miter saw..something we need for almost every project. Then we could stop borrowing my dads!

  236. Kim DeClaire says:

    I would love to use this towards my master bedroom!

  237. I shared it on FB

  238. Our master bedroom, it’s a work in progress (as is most of the house LOL). we’re getting ready to build a bed and try to make our bedroom more of a retreat than an after thought.

  239. Finishing our basement


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