Home By Dawn Palette Wood Fireplace Surround Makeover

Adding Character to our Builder Basic House

Well, I have to admit, generally “palette wood projects” make me roll my eyes, I mean, at the end of the day new wood isn’t that expensive. But as we searched for an inexpensive way to makeover our fireplace, I was surprised to see how palette wood could very closely resemble re-claimed wood when done correctly.

Palette Wood Fireplace Surround looks just like re-claimed wood- Love the warmth and texture it adds


The Research

Here are a few projects that inspired and encouraged me (click on the picture to link to the source and to see more from their projects):

Re-claimed Wood Fireplace Surround

Palette Wood Fireplace Surround












What I also appreciated about these designs is that they don’t look too “country” or like they only belong in a cabin. I love the texture and warmth that the wood adds (especially the warmer toned woods below), but didn’t want to lose the contemporary style of our house.

Palette Wood Wall






















And, even if you don’t have a fireplace to re-do, this technique looks great for a feature wall or hardboard like below.

Palette Wood Headboard…SO cool and SO cheap!

{Source for the headboard picture unknown :( }

So, with these ideas in mind, we decided to give it a try (we really didn’t have much to lose!) and set out to find some palettes. In most areas if you just check Craigslist you will find companies giving them away. We had no problem collecting the palettes and specifically looked for a mixture of new and old, and ones with different sizes of boards.

Fireplace Surround Before:

Here is what our fireplace looked like before:

Palette Wood Fireplace Surround: BEFORE

Oh it’s not the worst thing that you have ever seen, but what you can’t really tell from the pictures is that it was actually a faux stone that the previous owners painted. We thought about re-painting it, but with the traditional styling of it, even with a coat of paint we didn’t know that we could get it to match our aesthetic. Plus, with the super high ceilings in this section of our house, we really wanted something that filled the space more adequately.

So the fireplace project begins…

It really wasn’t that much work to remove the old surround (says the woman holding the camera). Although we quickly discovered that the old surround was fiberglass and was VERY heavy. Probably a team-lift project, but…

The only other slight snag we ran into was that the carpet was actually cut out around the old surround so there would be a little patching to do (likely from a bedroom closet) when the project was done.


Preparing the Palette Wood Boards

While I can’t believe we I didn’t get a picture of it, one Sunday afternoon we took a trailer and my husband’s truck and collected about 30 palettes. I knew the key to success with this project would be having a wide variety of colors and sizes to choose from since we wanted a “Re-claimed Wood” look, NOT a free palette wood look! I also had plans for a barn door baby gate that would require some boards as well :)

Once we got back home, my husband used a Sawz-all to cut through the nails to separate the boards.

This was a good approach for two reasons:

1) It was ALOT quicker than trying to pry the boards apart
2) It left the nail heads in the boards which looked cool and didn’t leave empty holes

When all of the boards were in individual pieces, we laid them out on the garage floor.

Assembling the Palette Wood Fireplace Surround


Preparing the boards was the most time-consuming part of the project, but once they were laid out on the garage floor, the project went really quickly!

Here is what we did:

1) Drew vertical lines down both sides for guidelines
2) Laid out boards for the first three rows
>> We purposefully used some full length pieces for some rows and shorter pieces for others
>> We chose different width boards and colors
>> I wanted a little bit of a “stripe-y” look to keep it looking contemporary (you’ll see what I mean more in the final photos below)
3) With each row my husband checked to make sure that they were still level
>> The boards didn’t line up perfectly, there are some small gaps between the boards, but you don’t notice, a great part of this project, it doesn’t have to be perfect!
4) He used a nail gun to attach the boards. Because we weren’t sure we would love it, we didn’t use any kind of adhesive or liquid nails, if we did this again we would as some of the boards have began to pull away a little bit. No one else notices but I do :)

Ta-Da! Our Faux Re-claimed wood Palette wood Fireplace surround!

I love, love, love the final product!

Originally this project appealed to my frugal-ness…I didn’t want to spend a lot on re-doing our fireplace since this isn’t our “forever-home”, but it turned out much better than I could have imagined! I love the warmth that it adds to our main level, you just want to sit in there with a cup of coffee and chat. I also like how well the different colors and tones in the wood go with our existing oak molding.

Here is a wide shot, standing from our kitchen (again you can see our Baby Gate Project here!):

Palette Wood Fireplace Makeover

And looking the other way:

Re-claimed Wood Fireplace Surround


The Mantle

For the mantle we were fortunate to find an old timber from a dismantled building at my parent’s farm. It even had some old metal brackets on it that made it even more interesting. We like the simple lines of it since again, we were going for a more contemporary look. I also didn’t want anything too big, I knew I would be putting small things on it, because the room, while it has tall ceilings, is actually pretty small.

Palette Wood Fireplace Surround

Palette Wood Fireplace Makeover-looks like re-claimed wood!

Palette Wood Fireplace Makeover-looks like re-claimed wood!

Palette Wood Fireplace Makeover-looks like re-claimed wood!


Palette Wood Fireplace Surround

Palette Wood Fireplace Makeover

 Overall, I would call this a Pinterest success story (despite my husband’s skepticism :)! Most of the accessories in the living room came from T.J. Maxx Home Goods (this isn’t a sponsored post, I just like their prices!)

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you right away!

Palette Wood Fireplace Surround

Related Posts:
>> Palette Wood 3-Hour Baby Gate (with link to plans!)

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A graphic designer & marketer by trade, I left the traditional working world in 2012 to stay home with my four kids. I love being home, but am glad to still have opportunity to design professionally and for fun and to share my ideas here from time to time. A country girl at heart, I live with my husband and four kids (5, 3, 2 and infant) just outside of the Twin Cities and only a few miles from my parent’s farm.
53 replies to this post
  1. I have a gas fireplace that looks similar to yours and just built floor to ceiling built-ins (my first ever real wood project!) on either side of it and was thinking of doing slate drystack floor to ceiling for the fireplace between the built/ins, but not only is this BEAUTIFUL and way cheaper than the stone, it would also be easier for me to do (I do not have a wet saw for the stone!) However, I am wondering about the wood being that close to the gas fireplace. WOuld it get hot enough to cause a fire? Is pallet wood really safe to use around a surround like that? Did you guys research it prior to beginning and if so, what were some of the websites you checked out on the matter? I want to make sure I don’t do something dangerous! Thanks!

    • Great questions! We thought of that after we completed our project…we don’t really use our fireplace because of the kids, so we were just going for aesthetic. My husband wasn’t too worried about it, but, with that being said, we are not qualified to give that kind of advice!

  2. wow!! i am sure it’s been said above but WOW!! amazing and I love it!! I am thinking our new back porch will need a heater….which will need something around it to protect it right!?!? WOW!! thanks for sharing with us at the creative challenge upcycle party!

  3. […] is a picture of our living room from when I did a post for I Think We Could Be Friends about our Palette Wood Fireplace surround (seriously, did you ever think that free palette wood could look so good?!? You can see more […]

  4. Looks great but not sure it is code compliant. Is your fireplace gas? If so I do believe that there are restrictions with the fire code on wood being so close to the heat source. But that may not apply in your area? But people who may want to reproduce this look should verify with their codes.

  5. […]   1-Stenciling Burlap at Red Tin Inn 2-Palette Wood Baby & Pet Gate at I Think We Could Be Friends 3-Mid-Century Industrial Storage at Pneumatic Addict Furniture 4-How to Create a Romantic Canopy-Inspired “Headboard” at The DIY Homegirl 5-Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake Bites at Endlessly Inspired 6-Palette Wood Fireplace Surround Makeover at I Think We Could Be Friends […]

  6. […] The pallet baby and pet gate by Dawn from I Think We Could Be Friends had the most clicks. Her pallet gate is imaginative, truly functional and an attractive addition to their home. Oh yes, they made the gate from leftover wood from their pallet wood fireplace surround. That’s worth checking out too. […]

  7. […] Crate Nightstand from Learning, Creating, Living // Pallet Fireplace Makeover from I Think We Could be Friends // DIY Paint Can Herb Garden from Simple Stylings // West Elm Knock-Off Metallic Pillow Cover from […]

  8. […] Crate Nightstand from Learning, Creating, Living // Pallet Fireplace Makeover from I Think We Could be Friends // DIY Paint Can Herb Garden from Simple Stylings // West Elm Knock-Off Metallic Pillow Cover from […]

  9. Wow – what a fab job and it looks beautiful. I love this sort of style and this is the best design I’ve seen by far. Simply lovely – just off to talk to the OH about a new project!!! #magicmoments

  10. Dawn, wow great job on the stunning focaloint you created for the room, love it, what did you use for the mantle piece? Was the wood used as found or did you add the metal hinges for effect? Wonderful transformation !

    • Thank you! The mantle is actually a piece of reclaimed wood from my parent’s farm. We weren’t quite sure what we were going to use and thought we may have to purchase an old mantle, but when we came across this it seemed perfect, and the metal pieces were already on it :) I may look for some old/antique metal shelf brackets to put below it down the road.

  11. Looks fantastic! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

    • Thank you Shanice! And I would love to link up, I missed it this week but added it to my list for next week, thank you for the invite :)

  12. Love it! Then again, I do love projects with pallets.When redoing my kitchen a couple years back, we found that the house was built with a similar look but covered up with drywall. Of course, I had the drywall pulled down and the whole kitchen/dining room area looks similar to your fireplace surround. :)

    Thanks for sharing. Will pin it to my Pallet Board.
    I would love it if you considered linking up on my party.

    Have a great day!

    • Wow, that must look awesome! And, thank you for the invite, I will link up this week, just stopped by your blog, how cool! I love that it is three generations :)

  13. This is beautiful, I adore how this came out. I too am trying to change up my builders standard home one DIY project at a time. It is a lot of work, but I am so proud of the unique feel to it all. Just found your blog and am loving it!

  14. Stopping by from the Work it Wednesday party, and just wanted to say that your fireplace looks great! We are thinking of doing something similar in our kitchen, so I love seeing how fabulous it can look!