As you can see from the before to the after we did a lot of changes. The first thing we did was tear down the brick wall. (I reused the brick in my garden.) Then we changed the drywall behind the brick. (Only the top part that was not going to be covered with the new fireplace mantel.) My father and I built a wood structure with 2x4's and plywood for the hearth. I tiled the hearth and around the fireplace. I have never tiled before, and I thought it turned out really good...thanks to you-tube videos. :)
3. Cap the sides and top with a 1x12 board that was ripped down to fit.
4. Put the mantel board on the top and nail it down.
5. Because we have little children, my husband thought we needed to reinforce the top if the little ones hung on it, so he put a piece of wood right under the mantel that eventually will be covered but the crown modeling.
6. Using a miter saw cut your crown modeling. (We had to watch a you-tube videos a few times to understand how to cut crown modeling.)
7. We placed another decorative trim where the sides and top meet to cover the seam. For all of this we used a brad nail gun. We also put base board trim on the bottom of the sides.
10. Decorate. (I got all my decorations from Hobby Lobby,Ross (picture), & Kmart (candles))
Every fireplace mantel will be different because of the size of the fireplace, but here is what we did. I hope this will help someone that is ready for a change.