For those whose Christmas holiday lacks a chimney by which to hang stockings with care, this easy-to-build cardboard fireplace makes a great stand-in.
Build the hearth: Assemble the four square boxes. Leaving one top flap open on each box, seal the other flap edges with packing tape. Then stack two boxes on end with the free flaps on the same side and tape the flaps together.
Next, tape all the seams and edges to create a smooth surface for painting. Do the same with the other two boxes. Now set the two stacks side by side so that the open flaps meet in the middle. Tape the flaps together to form the hearth's back wall.
Paint the bricks: Cover your work area with newspaper. Squeeze some red, brown, and cream acrylic paint onto a paper plate. Dampen the sponge and then coat its surface with paint by blotting the different colors to achieve a mottled effect. Use it to print rows of bricks on the hearth, recoating it with paint as needed.
Make the mantel: Assemble the two rectangular boxes and tape them together end to end. Squeeze black and white paint onto a second paper plate. Dampen the rag, dip it in both shades of paint, and apply the paint to the mantel in swirls to create a marbled gray surface. Once dry, set the mantel on the hearth and slip the gray paper in place for the fireplace floor.