DIY Shell Fireplace

DIY Shell Fireplace

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When MoS posted photos of her Easter spent in Boca Grande, Florida, the fireplace at the Gasparilla Inn really made an impression on me.  The fireplace overflows with shells, starfish, and fan coral and is stunning and dramatic.

Here is another twist on the same principle.

We have two fireplaces in our house that we never use.  We could pay someone to come make them functional again, but honestly, as un-romantic as it sounds, I've found fires to be more trouble than they are worth.  While of course they are warm and cozy and evoke memories of making s'mores in the family room, they are also messy and smelly and a lot of work and clean-up.  When baby boy gets older, maybe we will re-think the fireplace situation, but for now, it's not a functioning fireplace. 

So in thinking of what to do with this four foot by three foot brick-surrounded gap in my living room, the fireplace at the Gasparilla immediately came to mind.  Sure, I could have bought bags of shells at Homegoods or ordered them from China, but I would so much rather use shells that have some meaning.  When I was at the beach with my family last month, I decided to try to collect enough shells to re-create the Gasparilla's beauty in my own home.

I enlisted all of my cousins to find as many shells as they could.  Thankfully, shell hunting in the  Brunswick Islands of NC is an easy task.

Thanks to my cousins, I came home with a baby bathtub full of shells.

I then identified a big rectangular basket to use to hold the shells.

I put foil in the bottom so that any little shells wouldn't fall through the cracks.  Then I covered the bottom with large stones that I had found on the beach.

Next it was time to start layering the shells.

It took a while and a whole lot of shells, but finally the basket was full.

I enthusiastically put the basket full of shells in my fireplace. 

And the result was not so enthusiastic... The basket looked lonely and sad and too small for the space.

Before I threw in the towel on the project, I consulted with MoS Washington, and she suggested fan coral. I looked online, and apparently it is somewhat endangered and therefore at least $30 per fan, plus shipping. No way was I going to spend several hundred dollars on paper thin pieces of coral for my fireplace.

I happened to be in Marshall's the other day, and much to my surprise was a shelf full of fan coral!  Priced anywhere from $8-$15 per piece.  Perfect!  Good ole Marshalls, bringing endangered species to the masses at affordable prices...

Doesn't the fan coral make a huge difference?

I am finally happy with the result!

What do you think?  Have you done anything interesting with a non-functioning fireplace in your home?

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