Home and Garden

Renter-Friendly Fireplace DIY | Apartment Therapy


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Creating warmth and character in a rental apartment can be tricky, especially if the room has bland surfaces when you move in. When Patty Barrett moved into her New England rental home two months ago, the whole place was a bit “shabby,” she says. The landlord had upgraded the floors and painted the walls a fresh, light blue paint, but the room still lacked any personality.

“Everything was fine, but not me,” says Patty. Her vision was “Barbie’s dream holiday home from the 19th century” – and she was able to implement it in one afternoon with temporary, rental-friendly solutions.

There are many great temporary fireplace solutions out there for those who don’t have a built-in and don’t have the bandwidth, budget, landlord permission, or ventilation to add one. Patty chose an artificial Duraflame model (available for $ 219) with a heater. To make the “fireplace” feel a little more durable and homely, she bought a scalloped panel from Wayfair (available for $ 393). The best part? The surround and chimney did not require any installation or assembly. When they arrived, we could start.

Before putting them in the corner, Patty decided to add a few more highlights to give the wall a really layered look. She brought a floral peelable wallpaper from Rifle Paper Co. ($ 60 per roll) on the wall – in her favorite color combination of red, pink, and green – and added wall candle lights from an antique store.

An important step in the wallpaper process? “Read the instructions first,” says Patty. She put up a set of wallpaper in front of whoever is here and it all fell off. “I realized I should clean the wall first,” says Patty. “I vacuumed it up and bought more and cleaned the wall, waited for it to dry, and reapplied and had no problem with it sticking.”

Patty says it was difficult to get the wallpaper edges straight too; she recommends winning more hands for the project. “The lines aren’t that clean,” she says of her wallpaper work. “However, it is mostly covered by the chimney and you cannot see it from afar.”

After the wallpaper and sconces were in place, Patty finished outfitting thrift stores and goodwill finds – including the 1995 Holiday Barbie print, which featured prominently.

“I love how it brings the whole place together,” she says. “The living room goes straight into my dining room and the wallpaper complements the color of the dining room. There are pink / red / green elements all over my apartment, and the wallpaper puts it all together nicely. It could have looked super old-fashioned, but I feel like the modern elements make it fresher. “

Sarah Everett

Production assistant

Sarah is the production assistant for Apartment Therapy. She recently completed her MA in Journalism from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Belmont University. Past writing and editing stations include HGTV Magazine, Nashville Arts Magazine, and several local outlets in her hometown of Columbia, Missouri.



Robert Dunfee