I decided to enclose my monitor with a frame to look like a real fireplace mantle piece, and added in some slowly pulsating lights behind to mimic the soft glow of a burning fire. The entire frame and light assembly slips onto my monitor and can easily be removed after I've finished sipping my hot cocoa.
After having my desktop fireplace running for a few days, I can say that there's a psychological reaction to seeing the fire and feeling the ambiance the back lights give. I feel a warming sensation over my face and body as I type. The feeling is sublime.
Here's what I used to make mine:
Ready to make your own cozy fireplace out of your computer monitor? Let's go!
Step 1: Design + Measure
I designed my frame to be removable, the frame slips in place over the top of the monitor and covers the entire front and top - there's a small ledge on the backside to keep it secured to the monitor when installed.
I took the overall dimensions of the monitor, along with the thickness, and made sure to make note of the distance between bottom of monitor and bottom of stand.
For my design I chose:
|4x corners||- Corner Block (3/4" X 2-1/2" X 2-1/2")|
|1x crown||- Fiberboard Chairrail (5/8" x 1 3/4")|
|1x counter||- MDF Base (1/2" X 3 1/2")|
|1x kick||- MDF Base (1/2" X 3 1/2")|
|2x sides||- MDF Casing (11/16" X 3 1/2")|
There was a scrap bin near where I was cutting, so I used something like a window stool as a retainer on the back of the frame to keep it on the monitor. Each section was cut to roughly the correct length, allowing for final trimming to take place at home where I can verify dimensions with the monitor.
Step 3: Fit and Glue Components
After adjusting the design to fit the components I bought, I trimmed each section to the correct length. The frame was glued together and reinforced with finishing nails in select areas. I started with two corner pieces and attached them to either end of the crown length. Making sure to leave enough room in the channel on the underside of the counter, a backing piece was glued in place and clamped. The sections were then clamped and put aside.
Next, two corner pieces were attached the the kick and then clamped. These two clamped section were left to dry overnight.
After the side pieces were glued into place connecting the top and bottom portions of the frame. Using more glue, in select areas inside the frame I used scrap wood shims to beef up the connections.
Step 4: Prime + Paint
Though most of the elements were already primed when I bought the, some areas like the underside of the moulding were not. All surfaces that would be visible were lightly sanded with a 300 grit sandpaper, the frame was then brushed down to remove any debris or dust.
Protecting the area you are working in, a coat of primer was sprayed and left to dry for about 20 minutes. If you're happy with the coverage you can start applying your paint. Areas that require primer need to be touched up and left to dry.
Cover all visible areas of the frame with white paint. The paint was left to dry for about 40 minutes and then another coat was applied. In all about 4 coats were applied to achieve the finish I wanted.
Step 5: Adding LEDs
The 100-LED red only Christmas lights I bought from DealExtreme we're inexpensive and a great out-of-the-box solution to the glow I wanted. The lights are controlled by a small control box, in this model there were eight light settings I could choose from. Only one was the soft, pulsing blink I was looking for.
Though this box was small, the enclosure was a little too large for my liking, so I removed the circuit board from the enclosure to reduce volume. The control box was mounted on the back of the mantle piece in an empty area under the monitor. The strands of LED's were then hot glued all around the back of the frame. Excess LED strands were gathered and wrapped around a scrap of cardboard to keep them all together. This bundle will be hidden behind the monitor once the frame was installed.
The frame was then installed onto the monitor and the plug for the lights was then fed behind the desk and plugged in.
Step 6: Fireplace
Having a frame and fire video is good, but to make it feel like a real fireplace you need to decorate your mantle. I chose a few choice pictures, some plant cuttings and a candle for mine.
All that's left now is to turn down the lights, lean back and enjoy the feel of my desktop fireplace.