|It looks like a real home now, with a cat in front of the fireplace and everything!|
I have officially turned the corner into Crazy Craft Person Land. The other day, as we were coming home from a trip to the mall, I spotted a giant cardboard box in the dumpster (balanced on top, in pristine condition, not dirty at all) and told my husband I was going to bring it home and make it into a fireplace. I think he was seriously concerned; superhero dresses out of somebody's old sheets was bad enough, now we were going to have a fireplace out of an old box? Well, I figured if LiEr of Ikatbag can wrestle old boxes home to make amazing toys for her kids, I can do the same for my...errr...small fur child. Actually, no, this is all about making me happy.
[cue soft tinkly music and blurring of the picture to indicate that a nostalgic memory is taking over]
|Imagine these hanging above white leather couches and gold and glass end tables. From here.|
TL;DR summary: Christmas without a fireplace just doesn't feel complete, so obviously I had to make one. Also, we have no Christmas tree to put up and decorate, so it's about time I started decking out the apartment somehow.
I started by wiping down the box with a damp towel to remove all the dust and mental dumpster association. Walnut helped welcome the box into the apartment by rubbing his cheek all over the corners. Then I used duct tape to secure the corners so that it would stand up on the flaps.
To make space for the fire, I used a box cutter to cut out a rectangle on one side.
Since the box was pretty wide, and I didn't want it to take up too much space against the wall, I cut the box in half.
It was still pretty short, so I sawed off the flaps on the other half of the box and hot glued them to the bottom of the fireplace. This raised it to a nice healthy mantel height of four feet. At this height, though, the horizontal part looked all out of proportion, so I cut it in half and inserted some extra cardboard. I reinforced it with lots of tape and more cardboard inside.
At that point, I decided that it would be just a little too ghetto to follow my original plan of drawing directly on the cardboard. I mean, a DIY faux fireplace made out of a box you pulled out of a dumpster is pretty bad; let's dress it up just a little bit. I went to Staples and bought a roll of brown paper (I only used a fraction of the roll, so I still have plenty for making patterns and wrapping packages with string). I carefully measured and cut and folded to get the paper to fit the weird shape of the fireplace. Definitely one of the odder things I've wrapped. Before I taped the paper down for real, I drew all over it to get a more realistic (ha!) fireplace look.
I knew I wanted to give a nod to the Art Nouveau aesthetic, as it is probably my favorite period in architecture/furnishings/promotional posters. Looking to my Mucha book, clip art from Dover, and pictures of Art Nouveau fireplaces online for inspiration, I came up with this lily design. I really like that I was also able to pay vague homage to Rohan and the elves in my laughable knot-work. The hardest part was that once I drew the first column, I had to sketch a mirror-image on the second column. I'm really bad at it, but I didn't feel like digging out tracing paper and carbon transfer paper to make sure it was perfect. I mean, this is a a cardboard fireplace, after all.
|Oops, I see some pencil that I forgot to erase.|
|Check out my sad attempt at mitered tape corners!|
|You can see more of my sketchy taping on the side.|
After placing the box against the wall, I folded a dark red poly-satin fabric from my stash on the mantel and set up some frames leftover from our wedding tables, birthday cards, Christmas cards, and two handmade stuffed cats from when I was experimenting with softies. Also, it is the perfect place to put my LOTR plaque!
Instead of a fire, I set up a box with some gold glittery fabric and Christmas lights wrapped around a pillar candle. I think it really adds a homey holiday feeling to our living room! And best of all, my husband has moved past his initial, not totally unfounded skepticism and loves it.
Materials: Cardboard box, duct tape, glue, brown wrapping paper
Tools: Hot glue gun, box cutter, scissors, pencil, Sharpie
Hours: About 2.5 for the actual construction, another four for the designing and drawing and securing to the cardboard
Will you make this again? I'd forgotten how much I like working with cardboard! I'm toying with the idea of making a new fireplace every year with a different drawing. This website has some great ideas for classic fireplace surrounds, conveniently already in line-art form. But ideally one day we'd have a house with a real one.
Total cost: The roll of wrapping paper was $6, but I hardly used any. The tools and tape I already had, and obviously the box was free, so probably about $1, total! But I'll confess that I bought Christmas lights for $5 from Target just for this.
Final thoughts: We had a bunch of business school people over for a dumpling-making party last night, and they were all surprised to hear that I just up and made a faux fireplace. Not sure if it was a pleasant oh-wow-I-can't-believe-that-was-a-cardboard-box kind of surprise or a gosh-that-wife-of-Eric's-is-weird surprise, but it makes me happy. I don't know how long we'll leave this up (it does seem a little bit weird for year-round decor), but for very little money and some time (which was fun, and not chore-like at all), we have a beautiful mood-setting piece in our living room!
Linked to Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou, Take-A-Look Tuesday at Sugar Bee Crafts, and Tutorial Tuesday at Hope Studios.