Fireplace surrounds can be pricey, and I wanted to share this inexpensive fix.
My client had a surround that was really a family heirloom, and they planned to take it with them. We needed to install a replacement but didn't want to spring for wood to match the trim--which would have been a natural choice.
Instead, we bought one from mantelsdirect.com and painted it a color three steps down the paint card from the wall color.
Yes, you read that right: Mantelsdirect.com! I chose the profile that went best with the style of the moldings (The Yosemite, if you're curious) and customized it to fit my size requirements. (The tile was existing and we weren't messing with it.) A few weeks and less than $400 later, the mantel arrived, primed MDF, in nearly one piece. (I could have had them paint it for me, but since my painter was already knocking out the whole house, it made more sense to have him do it.)
I have to say, in a pinch this tonal paint solution really worked. The same mantel in solid wood would have run us at least times as much--not smart when you are staging, and not always possible even when you are staying put.
What do you think? I'm really into painted trim these days.