HELP please! Fireplace design gone wrong!!!

August 21, 2018
I gave the picture of what I want to my builder. He said no problem. What has been built is kind of similar but so much wrong in the details. Does it look like a cheap fake? I know our fireplace wall is longer but the proportions in the picture vs. the final product are so much different.
I even feel like the mantel height is too much considering this is only 9’ ceiling and I plan to install a 65” tv above the mantel.

What do experts say? Any interior designer?

Comments (73)

  • tira_misu

    Even if you leave it as is it will look beautiful once everything is painted and you have fourniture and decor in. I like it a lot.

  • SSE
    Cpartist, mantelmount is amazing! I will definitely look into it...
    All, encouraging words means a lot! I can’t wait to be done.
  • cpartist

    We put a mantel mount on the tv over our fireplace. Works great. Those two tabs sticking out the bottom are what you hold as you bring it down or up.

    You just can't be using the fireplace at the same time as you're watching tv.

  • bgs990

    I think if he trimmed back to side ledges of the mantel to be in line with the crown, it would feel more balanced. You wouldn't place anything on that part anyway so it can and should be narrower than the front.

  • Alison
    I think the mantle is a bit big but wouldn’t change it. Once your stuff is in it will look amazing. I like it overall.
  • gthigpen

    I think your carpenter think a great job given that all he had to work with was the inspiration picture. I think Mark's suggestion fixes it, but I also think those front 'baseboards' are just a bit too tall. I'm not sure I'd go as small as 6" to match the rest of your baseboards (since they aren't connected, it doesn't really matter), but they look just a tad too tall. Maybe 8"?

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    No way wil a 65” TV look at all proportionate above that. And that buried nugget is why the chimney breast appears so disproportionate. Because he’s trying to account for amuch too large TV.

  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    A more experienced builder friend (20 years ago) called this technique "Show 'n Tell Construction" where he 1st builds according to plans, then rebuilds until the client was happy. His builds were all high end with interior designers involved also, including his wife, a well known professional. I just bill it out.

  • suzyq53

    I'm not sure what you were expecting? Looks pretty good to me.

  • Emily
    I think it looks nice.

    Do you have the exact W&H dimensions of your TV? I know you said 65” but W&H can vary based on the thickness of the TV frame. You may want to use painter’s tape to mock it up.
  • Barbara

    I think it looks lovely and very close to the inspiration picture. As others have mentioned, if you shorten the mantle a little, that will make it near perfect. A bigger issue is the decision to put a TV above the fireplace (very poor position for proper viewing). If this is the focal point of the room then place artwork that inspires you above the fireplace.

  • Sammy

    The overal height is perfect. The overall width—from floor to ceiling—is also perfect. The trim detailing under the mantel shelf is actually better looking than what’s in your inspiration picture. The only thing that needs modifying is the width of the mantel shelf: bring it in a bit. That’s it.

  • PRO
    Lion Windows and Doors

    Aside from the mantle being a tad long, it looks great. It shouldn't be a difficult fix and I wouldn't sweat it!

  • chicagoans

    I agree with shortening the mantel. I think the trim makes sense since it matches the rest of the trim in your house. Before you make any other changes, here's a rough mockup with the shorter mantel. If you like that better, just ask for that first.

    "Also, close up you will notice the legs and the header are not level... Could there be a reason?" That's a question for your builder, but I like the change in depth and when it's painted will be less noticeable.

    I think it will look very nice!

  • PRO
    Debra O Design

    yep, mantle is to long, out of balance, and I'm never a fan of the tv over the fp. The room will look great in the end with a minor adjustment. Good luck, best, Debra

  • dan1888

    First put a level on it and check. Then cut a piece of cardboard for your tv and paint it black. Tape that in place and evaluate everything. That size tv needs to be in place before you consider changes.

  • suzyq53

    Well the mantle does look too long now, but when the giant tv is installed, you might need the width to balance it out.

  • Sammy

    FYI, folks:

    It’s mantel, not mantle.

  • tatts

    To ask for a re-do to lower the mantel 4 inches is just silly. He may also be dealing with fire code clearance regulations, so it may not be possible.

    I like the longer mantle, especially because it looks purposeful. I like that big slab.

    What I really, truly dislike is the shiplap. So tiresome and overdone, and on a fireplace, no less.

  • Pugga70


  • Alison

    Sammy thank goodness you are here to save us from spelling errors! Seriously...

  • Chessie


    FYI, folks:

    It’s mantel, not mantle.

    THANK YOU!!!

    A pet peeve of mine!! :-)

  • PRO
  • Barbara

    Mantle was used until the mid 16th century and then mantel become a more popular spelling to differentiate a fireplace mantle from all other definitions. So technically, both versions are correct. Regardless of spelling, a TV does not belong on top of it! A pet peeve of mine. :)

  • Chessie

    Yes. It does.

  • qam999

    TBH, I think your builder did an excellent job replicating what you asked for.

  • wannabath

    The funny part about it is the inspiration fireplace has issues. Then your carpenters are building on the fly without any plans. Outlets just sticking out of anywhere on the side.

    The inspiration pic used crown moldings built up your did not ad thats where its loosing its detail. The legs on both are just odd and need more detail and refinement.

    The biggest issue is in yours and the original is does that mantel pass code for that fireplace with regard to combustible materials?

    Its obvious that the mantel is too long and the molding below it isn't built up enough with enough details to create a shadow line.

    65" TV? Look into Samsung Frame or OLED that are about 1" thin and can be framed. They hang on the wall with zero gap needed which makes framing it very easy.

    Make sure you have spirit runs for power and TV HDMI and also run a couple extra in the wall as if one goes bad you don't have to tear it out to fix even though wireless is coming on strong.

    Have him caulk and prime it will make it come together a lot better.

    Also tell them to vac an clean up what kind of slob leaves a job site full of saw dust like that. Sorry its an indication of quality in my book.

  • Alison
    Wannabath you have no idea when the photo was taken. It’s possible this is mid work in progress. Who knows how it was cleaned up end of day.
  • bluesanne

    No matter what you do, placing the TV above the fireplace will throw off the proportions.

    I like the overall look as is, including the mantel length. The molding, to my eye, should match the weight of the shelves on either side. What might look fine on its on looks too thin in relation to the shelves.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    OK. Since no one can agree on this fireplace, let's move on to an entirely new and more interesting design.

    This will put the OP's house at the top of the list for the Sunday Parade of Homes, and insure photos in the local newspaper.

    How's this for a fireplace:

    No need to thank me. I'm just happy to help where I can...

  • SSE
    Virgil you sure put a smile to my face, as I was trying to digest all the comments.
    I have to tell I had a hard day, fireplace design and discussion is not over and my problems kept piling up...

    Now what to do with this?
  • Alison
    Do you not have plans that show how all of this should look with measurements and finishes etc?
  • ci_lantro

    If you want it to be right, the first thing you do is fire the clueless hack who built this thing and hire a finish carpenter.

    Butt joints where there should be miters and to make it even worse, the end grain is front and center.

    Plywood scraps pieced in for trim and not even edge banded! All those nails and probably not a pocket screw one.

    Your 'builder' hasn't progressed much since he/ she was playing with Legos.

  • hiccup4

    I have not read the comments but I think your fireplace looks fantastic as is. Enjoy!

  • cpartist

    That railing is in the wrong place

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC


    I had to click on the picture to see what you were talking about, but you are correct. No miters, end grain, and the untaped plywood edges are never going to paint properly. Looks like it was built by a rough framer.

    Good catch.

  • cpartist

    Yes what ci_lantro and Joseph are saying. I just looked at the fireplace enlarged too. Get a finish carpenter to do it correctly.

    And why is the outlet where it is?

  • chicagoans

    Virgil I'm afraid that fireplace is dated. I asked Joanna for an update.

  • PRO
  • Chessie


  • SSE
    chicagoans, the fact that you spent time to “update” that picture the way you did tells me you are an awesome person. Thank you for making me LOL today. I have forgotten how that felt!
  • chicagoans

    SSE... I'm writing a white paper about a rather dry topic and I needed a break! Glad it made you smile and thanks for the props :)

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    The only problem with Chicagoans update is...the palace has no electricity...! :-)

  • chicagoans

    Virgil, I guess the faux rustic pendant will have to go. Sigh. It's ok; I'll find a place for a barn door and it will be complete.

  • Lee Baer

    I think it looks lovely!

  • SSE
    I just want to give an update in this post. We ended up almost redoing the fireplace.
    We recently moved in and are still in the process of picking furniture so I am now taking design advice.
    Thanks everyone who has commented here while I was struggling with all the decisions...
  • SSE
    I just want to give an update in this post. We ended up almost redoing the fireplace. It turned out ok but not perfect. ♀️
    We recently moved in and are still in the process of picking furniture. In these picture it is a mix of old and new furniture/art/accessories. So, I am now taking interior design advice.
    Thanks again to everyone who has commented here while I was struggling with all the decisions...
  • houssaon

    It is hard to spot the differences, but those details do make the fireplace look better. Well done. Love the way you decorated the room, especially the artwork over the fireplace. A TV would ruin it.

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