If I had to choose one word to describe what I want my home to embody, it would be love. But if I got to choose a second word, I would definitely choose cozy. Cozy encompasses all of the feelings that I want our home to have – comfort, warmth, togetherness… just writing that makes me want to grab a thick blanket and a cup of hot cocoa and watch a movie!

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To help foster that sense of coziness, I wanted our fireplace to be the focal point of our living room. I wish that I had a better before picture to share with you guys, but demo started on it while I wasn’t home, so I didn’t get a chance to snap one. I do have this one that was included in the house listing on Zillow.com.

We had three main issues with the existing fireplace. The first was the stone itself. I appreciate a good stone fireplace, but this stone wasn’t really our style and instead of looking rustic and warm, it looked cheap and awkward. It also had splotches of neon orange paint in a couple places. Our second issue was the mantel. This particular mantel was too small for the fireplace, so it made the whole thing look out of place.

Our last pain point was (and still is) that this is a ventless gas insert. That means that there isn’t an exterior vent or a glass cover on the front so when we turn it on, it has a distinct smell. It’s not bad, but it’s also not great. Of course the first time I turned it on I freaked out at the smell, but after some research I’ve been able to determine that it’s not dangerous, just an annoyance of ventless fireplaces. If anyone knows how to get rid of this, let me know! While I wish we could replace this with better insert, they are really expensive and we made the decision to stick with the one we have – at least for now.

The first thing we did was rip the mantel and all the stone off. The stone was attached directly to the drywall and we didn’t really want to make a giant hole in our wall, so we put this off for a while. One day I was so sick of looking at the stone that I figured I would just patch whatever holes I made in the drywall and I went for it. I went to my favorite source (YouTube) to learn how to patch large sections of drywall and by the time J got home from work, there was fresh drywall and no more stone!

After a while of deliberating between tile and brick, we landed on using brick to bring some fun texture and warmth to the space. We used this brick veneer which is essentially a real brick that has been cut in half to make it thinner. Because they weigh less, they are great for using in lieu of a wall tile. You can also buy matching corner pieces if you need to brick over a corner, like we did.

Before attaching the surround, I used a technique called german schmear on the brick. It gives the brick such an old world feel, which is exactly what I wanted. I built the surround (yes, you read that right – I built it all by myself!) and attached it to the studs with the some really hefty lags. I didn’t want to be worried about whether something was too heavy to put up there, so I made sure to mount it really well.

Side note :
I recently have become super interested in enneagrams (still trying to figure out exactly what I am). While I was reading one description of a type 7 to J, it said something like, “I start projects and then get distracted, so you can usually find multiple unfinished projects in my house.” After hearing this, he was sure I must be a type 7 because this is me to a tee! Anyway, the point is that the fireplace sat like this for a while before I finally got around to adding shiplap.

I used plywood to make a faux shiplap column that goes all the way up to the ceiling and around the sides of the surround. It makes the whole thing feel so grand. The tall column also draws your eye up, so it makes the 10 foot ceiling feel even taller.

Our fireplace turned out exactly how I pictured it in my head and I couldn’t be happier with it!

This basket of pumpkins is currently E’s favorite toy

Okay, I want to hear from you guys! If you had to pick one word that you could describe your home with, what would it be? Let me know in the comments.

With love,
Mercedes ♥



  1. This fireplace was worth the wait, it looks perfect in your home! If I had to describe my ideal home in one word it would be JOYFUL! (exclamation point included in the word). I want a loud, fun, loving home where family builds friendships and friends become family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so lovely, Mercedes!! You did an amazing job. I am looking to do something similar to to my fireplace, but it is white right now, so I will be paining each brick to hopefully get a similarish feel to the German schmear. I love it!
    If I had to describe my home in one word, it would be simple.
    One word to describe my home would be peaceful.


  3. This is fantastic… I really like the german schmear on the bricks…I have the same style bricks at my son’s house and have been thinking what to do and now you’ve answered my question!! I love it


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