How to Build a DIY Electric Fireplace Wall {A Reveal!} | Thrifty Decor Chick

How to build a modern DIY fireplace where there was none.

A step by step tutorial on how to build a shiplap electric fireplace on a blank and boring wall!

This is the second time we’ve created a custom focal point in a space by adding an electric fireplace insert.

Both times have been in our basement(s) and now I want to keep adding more of these modern fireplaces around the house! 😂

The first time we did this makeover was in our last basement living room — there was an alcove from our bay window upstairs that was the perfect spot: 

We loved it so much, especially in the basement that wasn’t quite as warm as the rest of the house. 

We planned to do something similar in this house — we were bummed when the insert we had in mind didn’t fit between the bench and the TV on the entertainment wall I built
large wall built in TV unit

When that spot didn’t work out I told them I was going to figure out a new place for the fireplace somewhere down there. 

Touchstone offers both built in and wall mounted fireplaces in various sizes, so we had quite a few options!

We played around with a few locations over the past year and finally decided on this game storage wall:

game toy cubby storage

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Because we have all the new storage on TV wall, we didn’t need these cubbies anymore. Plus, as our son gets older he doesn’t need all the toy storage, sniff. 🙁

After removing everything, the first step was to build out the wall the fireplace would be installed into. 

Thankfully Touchstone has all of the specifications (“rough opening dimensions”) for each fireplace online: 

electric fireplace insert dimensions

This was helpful because we scheduled the contractors last minute one day, when we didn’t have the actual fireplace on hand. 

I got help with the framing part of the build because this is in the basement and we needed to be able to secure the frames into the cement floor. 

Because of the treatment I was doing on the exterior of the fireplace, I didn’t have to mud or tape the drywall. 

Major bonus!:

how to build a fireplace

The depth of the fireplace wall is up to you — because the heat comes from the front of the electric insert, you won’t need a ton of room behind the unit. 

Make sure the spot for your fireplace insert is framed out with 2x4s so it can support the fireplace securely.

There was already an outlet on the wall, but we had an electrician adding accent lighting so he placed an outlet on the side as well: 

DIY fireplace insert wall

I wasn’t sure if I was going to add a mantel, so I wanted to have an outlet for Christmas lights just in case. 🙂 

modern crystals in electric fireplace

It comes with both clear crystals and the more traditional “wood” option: 

wood log electric fireplace

They are easy to switch out and the fireplace installation was incredibly fast!

We slid it in to the 2×4 frame and then secured it with screws through holes on the sides of the fireplace frame:

installing electric fireplace

You can leave the fireplace in as you finish up, or take it back out. It’s easy to remove and install again. 

Next up was deciding on the design details. Because this fireplace unit is long and modern, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. 

My first plan was to do stained shiplap, but when I saw how expensive stain grade plywood was, I switched directions. 🙂

I went with my tried and true inexpensive shiplap option instead. I’ve used this for wall treatments SO many times over the years, and it always comes out looking great!

You can have the strips of luan cut down at the hardware store. I went thicker this time — each one is about five inches wide. 

I took a flat sanding sponge and wrapped it around the edges to knock down the splinters and rough spots: 
sanding down shiplap luan

After that it was time to decide on the paint color!

We have cozy, moody gray walls in the basement, but I didn’t want to do more gray on the fireplace. 

I went with this lovely deep green called Jasper from Sherwin-Williams: 

Jasper green Sherwin-Willams

I am completely obsessed with it! It is a gorgeous dark green.

I had plenty of extra gray paint (called Westchester Gray) so I painted one coat directly onto the drywall. That base coat does not need to be perfect because you’ll barely see it. 

You want your wall color to be a similar tone as your shiplap color.

I usually don’t paint my trim before installing, but with this thin luan I like to paint the edge with a foam roller before hanging it: 

painting edges of shiplap

This way I could just roll the color on the front after I nailed in the shiplap boards. 

I always start my shiplap at the ceiling, knowing I can hide the bottom strip behind the baseboards. 

My little trick for perfectly spacing out the planking is using a coin. All I could find in the basement was a plastic toy one and it worked great. 😉 

even spacing between shiplap

I did continuous pieces across the width of the fireplace to keep the look modern and simple. 

I use a nail gun to attach all shiplap and trim (into studs if possible).

These wood corner pieces are available at most hardware stores — I painted them and then nailed one in on both corners to finish it off: 

finish off shiplap corners

We LOVE how this spot turned out! 

In the end I didn’t add a fireplace mantel — I felt like it was going to be too much and would give it more of a farmhouse look. 

Jasper SW green fireplace

The Touchstone fireplace insert we got has a remote with a bunch of options! 

Touchstone electric fireplace review

There are five flame options for the “fire” — from down low: 

DIY fireplace build out wall

To brighter with higher flames: 

modern DIY fireplace with shiplap
long skinny modern fireplace

Ours has three color options — the traditional orange like above, and a modern blue: 

blue crystal flame fireplace

And a combo of the two colors as well!

Want to know the coolest part of this electric fireplace? It has a Bluetooth speaker inside! How fun is that?:

Bluetooth electric fireplace insert

You can play music or they suggest playing the sound of a crackling fire through it…so funny! We’ve done both. 🙂 

Instead of building bookcases or cabinets, I cut my two long DIY ledges into three separate ones and hung them on each side of the fireplace:

shiplap fireplace wood picture ledges

They were a perfect fit!

We added small recessed lighting above each set of shelves: 

stacked picture ledges by fireplace

My go-to is usually sconces, but we have enough of those around here already! 🙂

modern fireplace DIY

I’m so glad I didn’t go with stained shiplap — with the table and the picture ledges it would have been way too much wood. 

Whenever I share our basement I get comments on the green tones in the gray paint. I never really notice it until I share pictures here. 

But the two really do complement each other well! 

gray walls DIY green fireplace

I love both colors with the warm wood of the ledges and the table. 

This whole spot is such a “vibe” (as our son says) now — it was so fun transform this spot from a basic wall into a centerpiece!

Here are a few more features of the electric fireplace we used:

  • This AudioFlare option can be hung directly on the wall or inserted in a built out.
  • It has two heat settings and will warm a room up to 400 square feet. It definitely works! We turn it on when we’re watching TV on the sofa and can feel a difference in the room. 
  • This electric fireplace can be plugged in or hardwired. 
  • All mounting supplies are included and they have a bunch of helpful installation videos online. 

Adding an electric fireplace insert is the perfect way to warm up your bedroom or living room during these colder months! 

And even if you don’t use the heat, it looks so cool! 

The basement is a perfect spot for a little extra warmth: 

green modern fireplace brass mirror
modern DIY fireplace in dining area

Traditionalists can combine the inserts with a classic wood fireplace surround and bookcases, or if you’re a modern lover, use our simple build out and install flat, sleek tile. 

Thank you to Touchstone for providing our electric fireplace for this project! 

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