Meagen Mackenzie, Okotoks Real Estate, Okotoks REALTOR®, Okotoks Homes For Sale

           Associate Broker/REALTOR®

Cell: 403-818-1609 |

Calgary & Okotoks Real Estate

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Builder Grade Fireplace - the BEFORE shot

My husband and I wanted to get some built-ins installed in our family room.  When we bought our house six years ago, I always knew I would eventually install built-ins along our family room feature wall.

The feature wall had a builder grade fireplace and mantle as the focal point. The mantle had Victorian decorative detailing on it, something I do not want on my fireplace. I never liked the way the wall looked, but as most homeowners know, you have to pick your battles. Somehow a new roof and new windows seemed more important.

Until this passed summer. We finally decided it was time to embark on this project.  My husband and I are very handy with the Home Decor DIY projects, but the magnitude of this project seemed out of our scope. 

We decided to get a few quotes. The first contractor quoted us $11,800.00. When he told me the number, I almost fell out of my chair. I then explained to him that the built-ins don't need to be all wood, that MDF is fine. He assured me that at that price, it was all MDF. When I told him he doesn't have to replace the fireplace, only the mantle around it, he assured me his quote didn't include replacing the fireplace.

For our second quote, we decided to go to a cabinet showroom and see what they could do for us. Surely they would be cheaper since the cabinets are already in stock. Their quote came in at $17,000.00; all MDF, no replacing the existing fireplace.

Might I just add that my new roof cost way less than the lowest quote, and all the new windows in my house (16 windows in total) including vinyl window trim cost $3,000.00 less than the highest quote.

As much as I love the convenience of contracting out large projects like this, my practical side always seems to kick in. Why would I throw away my money when I have a perfectly good handyman living right under my roof. With my ideas and his execution, I just knew there had to be a better way (and a cheaper one).

I had a look at the cabinet selection at Ikea and was pleasantly surprised to see they had some cabinets that we could work with. We purchased two Liatorp cabinets and two Billy Bookcases. For the two Liatorp, we paid $900.00. For the two Billy's, we paid $150.00. Total for the shelving units was a whopping $1,050.00. 

We decided that since we're saving so much money doing it ourselves, we would replace our dated builder grade fireplace. We wanted a nice modern one with the pebbles instead of the fake logs. The last thing we wanted was to go through all the work of installing these built-ins only to have our fireplace die soon afterwards. So, we ordered a new fireplace, had it installed and paid $4,500.00. Surrounded it with some gorgeous travertine tile which cost us around $500.00. Built our own mantle out of plain wood and paint, which cost about $150.00 Total cost for the fireplace $5,150.00.

 Ripped out old Builder-grade
 fireplace and installed a new one.
Built a hearth in front of the fireplace and installed wiring behind the walls for our new LED television. 


New Travertine tile around 
the mantle and the new hearth.
Ready to install our Ikea 
To give our built-ins a custom look, we went to Home Depot and purchased a few different sizes of decorative trim. The Liatorp already came with nice cornices, so we installed something similar above the Billy. Then added a thin trim edging around the Billy to beef it up and voila.....custom made built-ins. Total cost of the trim was maybe $150.00.

Did I mention we installed wiring behind the walls for an LED to hang above the new fireplace?
And decided to install wainscotting on the family room walls?

Here's the breakdown:
$ 1,050.00        Cabinets
$ 5,150.00        Fireplace
$    500.00        Trim & Paint
$    500.00        Misc (caulking, HDMI cable, etc.)
$ 2,500.00        New TV & surround system
$ 9,700.00      Total Cost

The total cost was $2,100.00 less than the lowest quote AND we installed a new fireplace, wainscotting and a new LED TV. 

I love how it turned out. It's exactly as I envisioned it. And I especially love that we did all this and managed to save so much money.

Next up, the dining room! (My husband will be so pleased). 

   Written by: Meagen Mackenzie, December 12, 2012  RE/MAX iREALTY INNOVATIONS


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