DIY Faux Fireplace With Useful Hidden Storage

For a few years, my daughter has been dreaming about having a cozy fireplace in her rental townhouse, especially during the holidays. The problem is she has a small living room and only one wall that would fit a fireplace. That wall houses much-needed storage for our grandkid's books and toys. When thinking about Christmas gift ideas back in November I came up with an idea for a DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage to surprise both she and her husband on Christmas Eve morning.

There were several things to consider when designing the fireplace. One, that it be a faux fireplace for a rental. Two, that it be portable to move with them down the road. Three, that it contains easily accessible storage for the kid's toys. Four, that the toy storage is hidden for an adult space to entertain guests. Five, that it has adequate storage for media components because the television is mounted on the wall above. Six, that it is safe for a toddler and soon to be crawling infant. A tall order for one cabinet!

DIY Faux Fireplace With Extra Useful Hidden Toy Storage

DIY Faux Fireplace With Useful Hidden Storage


With consideration of all the criteria, we drew a rough sketch of how we could build the faux fireplace and got busy making it in time for the holidays. At the time I was knee deep into creating content for the 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop and my time was limited. So on this project, I was the chief designer and project manager and Mr. Frugalista was the talented cabinet maker who made this gift happen!

DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage Rough Sketch

I should mention that this isn't a detailed step-by-step tutorial because we just didn't have the luxury of time to take the necessary photos for every single step BUT you should have no problem getting a good idea of how we built it as you follow this post.

I've included affiliate links for your convenience so you can see what products I used or recommend to make this project. See my full disclosure policy.

The fireplace was built using 16-inch wide WoodCrafters Pine Laminated Boards (purchased at Home Depot) and cut to size on the table saw (see dimensions below).

DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage Pine Boards

Wood Cut Dimensions:

Top and Bottom Boards = 15" x 70 1/2"
Sides = 14" x 33 1/4" (2 each)
Middle Shelf = 14" x 67"
Middle Divider = 14" x 9"
Bottom Cupboard Sides = 14" x 23 1/2" (2 each)
Right Cupboard Shelf = 13" x 19 3/4"

Fireplace Middle Shelf Assembly

First, the middle shelf was attached to each side of the cabinet 9-inches from the top. They were held in place with adjustable corner clamps and attached with a #8 drill bit and 2-inch wood screws. But first pilot holes were drilled with a 1/16" drill bit followed by a countersink drill bit so the screws were inset (will be concealed with wood filler later).

TIP: Another option for no screw holes on the exterior of the cabinet is to assemble it with a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig where all the joints are screwed together from the inside of the cabinet and the underside of the shelves.

DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage Shelf Assembly

Fireplace Assembly Center Support And Cupboard Sides

Next, the center support on the top shelf was attached much the same way as in the previous step. Then the sides of the left and right cupboards were attached based on a 30-inch wide firebox opening.

DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage Assembly

Fireplace Top And Bottom Assembly

Before the top and bottom boards were attached, the front and sides of each board were softened with a router and 1/4" corner rounding bit. This not only gives it a more finished look but was a safety consideration so there were no blunt edges for our grandkids to poke an eye out. The total height of the fireplace is 35 1/4" tall to fit perfectly under the wall mount television that will hang above.

Firebox With False Back

The depth of the fireplace is 14-inches, much too deep for the firebox which will house two layers of tall flameless LED pillar candles. We decreased the depth of the firebox to 9-inches by building a frame with 1" x 2" pine strips, offcuts from the top and bottom pieces.

DIY Faux Fireplace Firebox False Back Frame


A piece of 1/4-inch thick hardboard cut to fit the back of the firebox opening at 30" x 23 1/2" and attached to the front of the frame with wood glue and brad nails.

Shelf Inside Right Cupboard

Inside the right cupboard, a stationary shelf was installed in the center of the opening with a piece of pine cut 13" x 19 3/4". But first, two angled pine brackets were made from offcuts screwed onto the sides of the cupboard. They were angled on the front so they would be less visible when the door is open.

DIY Faux Fireplace Cupboard Shelf Brackets

Pictured below is the shelf after installation.

DIY Faux Fireplace Cupboard Shelf Installation

To give the back of the cabinet a finished look it was sheeted with 1/8" hardboard and attached with brad nails.

Cabinet Doors With Decorative Metal Panels

We found 21"x 24" cabinet doors at a local salvage yard for $6. The center panels were removed and replaced with decorative metal that will conceal the media components housed inside but allow remote control sensors to transmit through the closed doors. Plus it gives a modern look to the fireplace cabinet.

To do this a hole was drilled into the center of each door panel and cut with a jigsaw (pictured below).

DIY Faux Fireplace Recessed Door Panels Removed

The 2' x 3' decorative aluminum sheets with a Paulin profile were flimsy enough that a child could push them out. To remedy this the sheets were doubled up, making the panels were more rigid and cut them to fit the opening.

They were attached by running a bead of construction grade hot glue along the tongue on the inside of the door and finished with narrow trim (sorry I didn't get a photo).

Prepping Fireplace For Paint

Now that the fireplace was built all the screw holes were patched with my go-to non-shrinking patching compound. Once dry the entire cabinet was sanded smooth with a palm sander and 150 grit sanding pad and the tight corners with a mouse sander. Next, it was hand sanded to a smooth finish with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.

After the sawdust was vacuumed and the fireplace wiped with a tack cloth, it was primed with my go-to Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer rolled on with a 6-inch foam roller.

Fireplace Paint And Clear Coat

The fireplace was painted with three coats of satin Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint in a custom warm white color similar too Raw Silk (Fusion Mineral Chalk Paint). The paint was also rolled on with a foam roller and sanded with 220 grit sandpaper between coats.

Two coats of non-yellowing Varathane Premium Diamond Satin Wood Finish was brushed on with a 2-inch synthetic bristle brush and sanded smooth between coats with 600-grit sandpaper.

Tiled Fireplace Opening

Now that the fireplace was painted it was time to dress up the firebox opening. We considered embossed tin panels until we priced them out. Onto plan B, a far less expensive option because we found glossy grey taupe Cracked Pebble Datile 3" x 6" tiles on clearance at Home Depot for a total cost of under $20.

The tiles were installed on the back and sides of the opening in a subway pattern and butted right next to one another without a grout line so we didn't have to grout for a clean look. After playing with different configurations we decided to lay the bottom tiles in a vertical direction for visual contrast and a clean look.

The tiles were cut when necessary with a wet tile saw that made the job so much quicker. The tiles were attached with ceramic tile adhesive.

DIY Faux Fireplace With Subway Tiled Firebox

Finishing Touches On The Fireplace

Once the tiles were installed the doors were hung with inset cabinet door hinges. Pretty brushed nickel knobs that I had in my stash that echo the metal decorative door panels were added.

This is where the hidden toy storage comes into play

Six collapsible 9" x 11" x 8" cork color fabric cubbies with silver metal handles were lined up along the top shelf of the fireplace for easily accessible but hidden toy storage. Also, the cupboard on the right with the shelf is perfect for taller toys and books.

Let there be light inside the faux fireplace

I found a set of nine wax flameless LED pillar candles at varying heights with a multi-function remote control on Amazon. With the timer function, my daughter can set the candles to go on automatically each day. A safe alternative for illuminating the fireplace when you have little ones.

So are you ready to see it?

Here it is just before we loaded it in our vehicle to take to our daughter's place on Christmas Eve.

DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage

I wish I had taken more photos before we delivered it but unfortunately, this thing was so hot off the press that I didn't have the opportunity.

Our daughter and son-in-law were thrilled when they saw their handmade Christmas gift. Our grandson on the other hand immediately gravitated to the cupboards where he decided they were perfect for playing hide & seek (not what I had in mind).

Here it is at their house after my daughter decorated it for the holidays shortly after we left. Finally, she had her fireplace mantel to hang stockings on Christmas Eve. If the high heel boot stocking looks familiar it's because I made one for her too.

DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage Decorated For Holidays

Next week I'll be sharing what we built for the grandkids.

This isn't our first fireplace build. A few years ago we turned a mid-century modern headboard into a faux fireplace. Then we made a real log fireplace insert for it. We also built a custom electric fireplace for our living room, which we love.

To build this faux fireplace you will need


Building Materials:

Precut Laminated Pine Boards:
  • 3 @ 16" x 72"
  • 3 @ 16" x 36"
  • 1 @ 16" x 48"

Hardboard Sheets:
  • 1/8" x 4' x 8'
  • 1/4" x 2' x 4'
  • 2 @ 21" x 24" Cabinet Doors (Salvaged)
  • 4 Inset Cabinet Door Hinges
  • 4 @ 2' x 3' Aluminum Decorative Panels (Paulin Profile)
  • 60 @ 3" x 6" Ceramic Tiles (Cracked Pebble SE22)
  • 2 Brushed Nickel Knobs

Construction Materials:

1/16" Pilot Hole Drill Bit
Countersink Drill Bit
1/4" Corner Rounding Router Bit 
#8 Drill Bit
#8 2" Wood Screws
1" Brad Nails
Adjustable Corner Clamps
Wood Glue
Construction Adhesive
Ceramic Tile Adhesive
Full-Size Hot Glue Sticks
150 Grit Sanding Pads
220 Grit Sandpaper
600 Grit Sandpaper
Tack Cloth

Paint Materials:

6-inch Foam Roller
Small Paint Tray
Zibra Stubby Handle Brush
Synthetic Bristle Paint Brush (for clear coat)
Primer
Non-shrinking Patching Compound
Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Paint (custom Warm White color)
Varathane Premium Diamond Satin Wood Finish (non-yellowing)

Power Tools:

Table Saw
Jigsaw
Wet Tile Saw
Palm Sander
Mouse Sander
Router 
Dremel with Grinding Disc
Pneumatic Nail Gun
Heavy Duty Hot Glue Gun

Decorative Supplies

6 @ 9" x 11" x 8" Cork Color Collapsible Fabric Cubes
Set of 9 Pillar LED Flameless Wax Candles with Remote


DIY Faux Fireplace With Hidden Toy Storage

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