DIYdiy projects

diy project: kate’s wallpaper fireplace

by Grace Bonney

if you’re like me and live in a rental, it can be tough to deal with the less-than-ideal features of your home. without the ability to replace tile, wallpaper, or event paint it can be difficult to personalize your home the way you’d like. but today’s diy project (from designer kate pruitt) is all about working with what you have. kate wasn’t in love with her old fireplace so she decided to use jenny wilkinson’s pink ‘hammerhead sharks‘ wallpaper to cover up the dark tile. using little more than foam core, a little glue and an xacto blade, kate was able to create a custom look that won’t cut into her apartment’s deposit when she moves. kate has shared her full project instructions and materials below so click here for the full post (or just click “read more” below). thanks, kate!

Kate’s Wallpaper Fireplace:

What You’ll Need:

-wallpaper (much less than a whole roll, just the amount to fit your
fireplace front and sides)
-rubber cement
-foam core (I bought a big 4 x 8 sheet at an art store so I could have uncut piece for the front)
-glue gun and hot glue
-wood trim (available at home depot by the foot)
-paint for the trim
-small nails
-xacto blade and straight edge
-cutting surface (optional – I used a flattened cardboard box so I wouldn’t hurt the floor)
-book (for smoothing the paper down)
-a helper (just for the placement of the pieces when the glue is hot)

SPECIAL NOTE: This project worked on our fireplace because it is unpainted tile. When the hot glue dries and becomes rubbery it will stay adhered, but when I pull the wallpaper piece off I will be able to pick the dried glue off easily. If your fireplace has paint that you cannot touch up you will not want to do this, as the glue will pull off paint. If you are not sure if your surface will work, put a dab of hot glue on the side for a test. Wait a day and see if you can peel it off easily.


1. Carefully measure the front and sides of your fireplace, including the dimension on the fire pit. Be sure to measure right to the edge on all sides and top and bottom. If you are not doing the wood trim, you want to add to the dimensions of the front piece so it overlaps the edges of the side pieces.

2. Draw the front and sides on the piece of foam core and cut them out carefully.

3. Measure the wallpaper and cut a piece long enough to fit down the front with a little extra on the sides just to be safe. Working in small patches from top to bottom, apply rubber cement to the foam core and glue down the wallpaper. Use the first piece of wallpaper on the roll for the top left corner, to ensure the pattern is straight. Smooth out any wrinkles with a book. Move to the next piece and match up the design carefully. I used 3.5 widths of the paper to cover the front, and just one width on the each side. Paper widths vary. NOTE: you are not putting any paste or glue on top of the wallpaper.

4. To trim cleanly, flip the piece over so the paper is face down and trim the excess paper with the xacto. If you are not doing the wood trim, you will want wrap the paper cleanly around the edges. If you do the wood trim you do not need to do this.

5. Working with a friend, put hot glue one the back of the piece, especially near the edges, and quickly place it on the fireplace and do any small adjustments fast before it cools. Do one piece at a time. If you are not doing trim, I recommend putting on the sides and then putting on the front so it covers the edges of the sides.


1. Paint the trim whatever color you want. We matched ours to the off white in the wallpaper.

2. Use small nails to attach the top trim to the original fireplace. This will only work for you if you have a wood mantle. We had a flat wood mantle top so we added decorative trim to the front only.

3. For the edge of the actual fire pit, measure the sides and top and cut the trim to frame it. Remember to cut at 45 degree angles like building a picture frame so it will fit together.

4. Using hot glue, glue the trim to the edge of the foam core. Touch up trim with paint if needed.


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  • I wish there was something to be done to the hideous floor I have in my home. But it’s rented and my dog likes to pee on carpets (usually the one in the kitchen), so not a very good option. Any ideas?

  • That is too awesome! Kind of makes me wish I had an ugly fireplace that needed covering in our rental house :)

  • Hmmm, I will have to figure out if I can apply this to my own fireplace… its an awful sixties monstrosity and I’ve been trying to figure out how to disguise it for two years.

  • This is way cool. I likewise wish I had an ugly fireplace to cover up. For those who do, I think the problem with using the glue gun on painted surface might be overcome by using those sticky tabs that people like 3m make. They are pretty strong and tend not to mar painted surfaces.

  • I saw this same fireplace in Feb. issue ReadyMade Magazine! great idea I’m now applying designer wallpaper onto 2-48″x96″ foam core boards to cover my rental faux wood panel wall.

  • Very nice idea. I tried putting a bookshelf it looked awkward. Thought about a table where the table-cloth would cover the damn thing, but it would have to be a dining height table in the living rooming. Finally, the fireplace from hell can be redesigns. Thanks

  • I am wondering if this would work if you want to still use the fireplace. I have an ugly brick floor to ceiling fireplace in our rental that I would like to cover. I still want to use the fireplace though so I want to make sure that whatever I put around it will be able to stand up to heat. Any ideas?