Interiors Inspiration One Room Challenge

One Room Challenge Week 2: The Fireplace Plan

October 10, 2018

corgi on a bed

Welcome to week 2 of the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge! If you’re not familiar, every spring and fall, 20 featured designers selected by the ORC team participate in a 6-week challenge to decorate one room. The event is hosted by Linda Weinstein of Calling it Home and Better Homes and Gardens. In addition to the featured designers, hundreds of other folks with blogs (and Instagram this season!) join in on the challenge as Guest Participants <— that’s me.

If you’ve hopped over to this post from the ORC website – welcome! I’m Emily, this is my blog, and I’m working on undecorating the 1929 tudor-ish home I share with my husband, Andy, and our corgi, Penelope. This is my second One Room Challenge (last season I made over our guest room). I am glad you’re here!

For this season’s challenge, I am making over our main bedroom. Sometimes I like to think of the One Room Challenge as the Great British Bake Off of interior design blogging and if you’re following me down that path, I’m about to talk about what I like to think of as my “showstopper.” In last week’s main bedroom plan post, I talked about my overall vision for the room and the most important, most labor-intensive DIY part: building an electric fireplace surround. But where did that idea come from?

On my list of “one-day house hopes” (we all have one of the those locked up in our brains, right?) is a bedroom fireplace. So many of the Victorian homes I drool over have them along with some of my favorite Tudor and Craftsman homes. Our bedroom actually used to have one – the brick chimney and firebox have been plastered over and the surround removed, but the footprint is still visible – and I figured that was the end of the story. It seemed completely impossible to me to restore the old fireplace, to dig out the firebox and make sure the chimney was safe for use. And so, that was the end of it.

DIY Fireplace Inspiration

That was until I saw some of my favorite home bloggers adding electric fireplaces to their homes.
Nicole Cole vestige home fireplace surround electric insert

[ Vestige Home via Instagram ]

Nicole built this beautiful surround with a modern take on a traditional fireplace style.

modern DIY recessed electric fireplace

[ Chris Loves Julia ]

Julia and Chris Marcum built a recessed modern marble surround fireplace with the most beautiful view into their stunning new bathroom. Be sure to read their excellent post on how to DIY a built-in electric fireplace.

Classic Fireplace Surround Inspiration

Michelle Smith interview on Rip & Tan

[ from the home of Michelle Smith via Rip & Tan ]

Once the internet gave me the courage to build something similar,  I had to think: what do I want this thing to look like? How can I make it appropriate to our house with its Tudor-ish and Craftsman-ish and Colonial-ish style? My dream is a beautiful stone surround with an arch in the middle like the one pictured above. But as I do not know how to make a single thing out of stone, I figured maybe I’d better try to capture similar design elements with wood and tile.

Fireplace Design Building Plans

This is what I’d like the view of the fireplace to look like when all is said and done. It would be nice to have 2 chairs or a small chaise or sofa near the fireplace but honestly, we don’t need more furniture to trip over on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Sketchup Fireplace PlansMaster bedroom fireplace framing view

Here’s a look at the back of the surround. The plan is to build some framing to both hold up the electric insert and to support the surround. A piece of cement board will be secured to the framing and then tiled. Next, the framing and tile combo will be secured inside the surround. Last, the electric insert is slid in from the front of the surround.

The electric fireplace insert vents through the front and doesn’t need extra venting or clearance in the back beyond its actual depth. I’ll just need to make room to pass the cord outside of the surround so I can plug it into the wall.

fireplace surround deconstructed diagram

Here’s how the 3 main components look on their own.


I love the aged crackle on the tile in our blush bathroom and want something similar for the new fireplace. I want to add a little bit of color and age with the tile and have ordered a few samples.

Tile Options from TileBar

Which would you choose? Tundra, Arctic Blue, or Deep Emerald? There are some obvious color differences in the examples above pulled from the TileBar website but they are all beautiful in person. I am leaning strongly toward the Arctic Blue!

Main Bedroom Makeover Checklist

So how’s it going with the rest of the One Room Challenge?

  • Order bed
  • Order nightstands
  • Make complex plans for the fireplace surround and run them by Dad
  • Order electric fireplace insert
  • Order tile
  • Build fireplace
  • Buy curtains
  • Pick curtain rods
  • Choose and order rug
  • Pick and order a mattress
  • Order prints and frames for photo gallery grid
  • Other art
  • Find new dresser for Andy
  • Get king size bedding

The fireplace project isn’t a weekend or even a week-long project but instead will come together over the course of the challenge. My dad and I have talked through the plans and are ready to get started, but since we live about an hour and a half apart, this will be an extra tricky build. I’ll keep you updated but will probably save the fireplace reveal for the whole room reveal! So stay tuned.

Remember to follow along and see what the Featured Designers and Guest Participants are up to!

One Room Challenge Guest Participant

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  • Reply jewel October 10, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    oh my goodness! This is going to be so exciting!

  • Reply Julie October 11, 2018 at 12:01 am

    I love the design. My husband was VERY skeptical about an electric fireplace (mostly, he thought it would blow every circuit in our 1927 house), but we ended up loving it. So easy to use, and it adds a little heat when the 1927 windows get too drafty! Looking forward to seeing yours! It’s great that your dad can help build it!

  • Reply Taylor October 11, 2018 at 1:31 am

    I can’t wait to see your progress!! I’m a simple lady but most of the homes around here built in the 20s had this beautiful jade/emerald tile on the fireplace so my heart is leaning that way! But the blue is so beautiful too!

  • Reply Karen Agnes October 11, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Oh! That Deep Emerald is amazing! Thats my favorite!

  • Reply Marti October 11, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I’m partial to the warmth of Deep Emerald – the color pictured in the circle (less so the tile sample above it) looks like what you see in classic bungalows. But I know whatever you choose will be beautiful!

  • Reply Nicole October 11, 2018 at 10:16 am

    I’m basically swooning over the deep emerald. I also love the idea of how the green would be a nod to the other, deeper colored rooms in your home (guest bed and living room), even with keeping this room lighter.

    • Reply Nicole October 11, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Also to echo Marti, the emerald does really look like something that might be original to an older home.

  • Reply tim@designmaze October 11, 2018 at 10:26 am

    oh loving the tutorial! I am planning a fireplace in the next condo as well and likely and electric insert as well. LOVE having fireplaces in the house and as for tiles, hmmm tough call, think I will go with Tundra !

  • Reply Marci October 11, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    This is going to be gorgeous!!! I love the plans you have for it! Very well thought-out!

  • Reply Kimm Jones October 11, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    How exciting! The tile is a great choice. I also love the emerald green, it will be a standout!

  • Reply Deneen October 11, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    I like tundra. The emerald green reminds me of vintage fireplaces, so if that’s the style you are going for then emerald is probably the better choice. But I still vote for Tundra :)

  • Reply Betsy Transatlantically October 12, 2018 at 8:34 am

    ooh yes the Artic Blue or Emerald – the fire would really pop against the darker colors! what a great project.

  • Reply Stacy | Blake Hill House October 12, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I’m feeling that deep emerald too. It’s gorgeous.

  • Reply Laura October 12, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I’m in LOVE with that deep emerald!! Of the options, it reminds me the most of the fireplace in my old apartment, which was built in ~1900 or so. I actually feel like the Arctic Blue would be the hardest to design around if you ever decide you want to switch things up – the hue is a lot cooler than a lot of the other tones in your home. But regardless, the plan looks AMAZING, and now I’m trying to figure out if I can cram an electric fireplace somewhere in my home, haha!

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