Renovation DIY & How To

The One Feature Nate Berkus Can’t Look at Without Wanting to Redo It

How to make the new look old.
Photography by Brittany Ambridge

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Nate Berkus has an answer for everything, including how to style a major living room focal point: the fireplace. Based on an Instagram post sent out to his 1.4 million followers, it’s clear the veteran designer has an affinity for charming, old world–style hearths, and who can blame him? An antique mantel and chevron brick instantly elevate a room to cozy status. “I can’t even look at a new fireplace without wanting to redo it,” he wrote. But worry not; if you have a modern-looking fireplace, there’s an easy fix to get on Berkus’s level. Just renovate it to make it look old. 

Home of Jeremiah Brent and Nate Berkus for Live Beautiful, Photography by Nicole Franzen 

According to Jenny Cipoletti, creator of Margo & Me, it’s not too hard to DIY a 17th-century–inspired piece. Simply purchase a freestanding cast-stone mantel and attach it to your wall using L-brackets, then style it by placing a vintage candelabra or vases on top.

If you want to go one step further, do as Mallory Fletchall from Reserve Home did and tile the firebox for an old-school look that packs a big punch. 

Photography by Mallory Fletchall

If transforming your old fireplace into an even older-looking one sounds like a pricey endeavor, take a look at the wallet-friendly version, below. These U.K.-based homeowners purchased an ornate mantel from Facebook Marketplace for around $18 and constructed the hearth themselves using recycled tile and backer board.

Photography by @edwardianelements

Photo by @edwardianelements

Berkus’s last piece of advice when it comes to a classic fireplace? Hang a piece of modern art on the wall above it. Not only is that a great way to embed personality into the space, but the contrast between old and new will keep things just the right amount of interesting. 

Mantels To Spiff Up Your Surround

Pearl Mantels Berkley Fireplace Mantel Surround

Wayfair
$426.75 $388.51
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Historic Mantels Designer Louis Cast Stone Fireplace Surround with Filler Panels

Wayfair
$1,968
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Modern Ember Eastfield Wood Fireplace Mantel Surround Kit, 42 Inches

Target
$649
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Henri Mantel

Pottery Barn
$499
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Tiles To Try In The Fireplace

Sahara 3" x 12" Porcelain Wall & Floor Tile, Set of 48

AllModern
$122
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Ochre Dual Glaze Tile, 4" Triangle, 1 Square Foot

Heath
$92
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Columbia Plateau Tile, 1 Box

Fireclay Tile
$158.76
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Gambit 8 Tile, 25 Tiles

Zia Tile
$407.27
Shop Now