Before and After Colonial Fireplace Transformation

January 6th, 2020
Location  •   Connecticut

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A frequently asked question found in my Instagram inbox from readers asks about our fireplace. From what color we used to the paneling size, I like knowing you all are as obsessed with the look as I am!

Today I’m spilling all the before and after details of our colonial fireplace transformation.


Originally the wall was created with beveled wood paneling. While the look was traditional to a cape built in the ’60s, I wasn’t my style or on-brand with our home’s colonial feel. I turned to Pinterest and within minutes I discovered what I wanted – raised paneling!

Raised paneling is traditional to a New England saltbox home. For a modern flair and less colonial look, inlaid paneling (similar to what’s on our staircase) is just as gorgeous and half the price! Inlaid paneling can complement wood molding whereas raised panels must be custom, carved, or routed out. For cost sake, our carpenter, Justin, recommended going with Medium-density fiberboard (MDF), also known as engineered wood.

For the quick two-day transformation project, I went straight to The Home Depot and purchased three MDF boards. The boards are heavy – so bring an extra set of hands with you. Justin hand-routed the three pieces to make our five-panel design. From there, we moved onto the final touches!

When designing your space remember, with a true colonial, symmetry isn’t everything. For us, the paneling on either side of the fireplace isn’t symmetrical – and like it! The fact that it’s not perfect is a nod to the authenticity of our home. Plus, the placement allowed for the mantel to sit exactly where I wanted it!What Goes Into Picking A Trim Package
Before and After Colonial Fireplace Transformation | The Coastal Confidence by Aubrey Yandow

Mantel, Trim & Hearth

While the original oversized mantel was well-liked, I prefer something simpler.

Justin used molding and trim to streamline our piece. Once the mantel was complete, he installed baseboard around the edge of the fireplace to match the rest of the room. We also added a curved cove trim piece around the brick fireplace front. The piece gave our fireplace additional flair while drawing the eye down – a detail I love!

My favorite part about our new fireplace is the hearth because of where it came from.

My parents live in a historic home that went through a series of renovations and foreclosures prior to their purchase in 2011. During the foreclosures, materials used in the home were left behind – including some marble. For years my parents held on to the slab. 

Matt and I took the marble slab to the same company we used for our kitchen renovation, Hartford Granite & Marble, to see if they could cut the stone for a perfect fit. They did just that!

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Paint Color

Now an answer for the most frequently asked question: paint color!

We have two colors in our space. The paneling was painted the same color as our kitchen cabinetry which is a custom color. Screenshot the above picture of the paint can to recreate!

I just love the large paneled wall that mirrors our cabinet color and brings cohesiveness to the living floor area. As you can see in the original images – the brick was white. But, we painted it xxx to fit the historic feel and highlight the warm tones of our custom green. 

I hope this post inspired you to think outside of the box by getting creative with your living space. This fireplace transformation has to be one of my favorite personal touches from our home renovation. Plus, I have so much fun decorating it for each season!

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