A faux fireplace is a few steps away

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

I started putting up Christmas decorations long before Thanksgiving. I couldn’t help it. My daughter, Lina, is nearly 14 months old now, and this is the first year she’ll be able to open presents and really experience the lights and whimsy. Her face lit up when she saw our Christmas tree this year, and she has been enjoying many other festive accessories.

It’s caused me to reflect on my own childhood Christmas memories. Back in Cleveland, where I grew up, we used to hang stockings from the fireplace each year. Here in Hawaii, we don’t have or need a fireplace. Yet, every Christmas, I end up missing it. What I’ve learned, however, is that there are many ways to fake it.

• Save your cardboard boxes. Keep boxes that are the same size. Close and tape them so they stay sealed. Stack them to create a fire-place shape, working on the two sides first and then going across the top. Tape the boxes to one another so they don’t shift. Finish it off with brick covering. You can use corrugated brick paper, or you can paint the brick on yourself. If you go the painted route, consider covering the boxes in plain white paper first.

• Draw it on. Use a chalkboard-painted wall, or purchase a chalkboard decal you can stick on. Use chalk in various colors to draw the fireplace with a fire inside. Add a stocking stand to complete the look. Alternatively, if you have a console table, place it over the drawn on fire to make a mantel.

• Tape it up. Start by purchasing painter’s tape in various colors. Then, lightly sketch your fireplace and fire on the wall using pencil that you can erase. (Test an inconspicuous area of your wall first.) Then, go over the pencil with the tape. Long, straight lines work best with the tape. To make curved lines, you will have to tear off smaller squares and piece them together.

• Install a mantel. This is a more permanent solution, but one you can use year-round. You don’t need a fireplace to have a fireplace mantel. You can hand draw a fire underneath or even place a bookshelf there for some function. Browse flea markets or Re-Use Hawaii for previously used mantels at discounted prices, or purchase a new one. Installing may take some work. Depending on the mantel you choose, you may have to first install pieces of lumber on the wall and then attach the mantel to the wood. Consult manufacturer instructions or hire a handyman to help you with the job.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisin@gmail.com.