Remember when our living room fireplace looked something like this? the mantel was in need of a makeover.
One day I’d like to either knock down the brick to expose an original (fingers crossed) fireplace or fill in the brick with plaster to create a Spanish-style fireplace to match the house. Until then though, my first thought was to create a solid beam look by fitting a wooden box to the top of the current mantel. Kind of like the last image in this post.
So… I took my ideas and layout to my local hardware store that has a milling department and we created a mitered edge box that was just what I had in mind. But it came back looking like this.
And now, we’re finally back on track!
First up is staining. Since different types of wood will each have their own unique look with different types and colors of stain, I flipped the wood mantel over and tried out three different stains. The perfect shade? We chose the red mahogany in the center.
If our mantel had been cut from a softwood (uneven wood grain or blotchy patterns indicate that wood might be softwood), I would add a pre-stain wood conditioner to prevent an uneven covering (the conditioner seeps into the wood to create a consistent surface). Back when we were choosing materials originally, my carpenter friend recommended a vertical grain cut, this means that the growth rings run at 45 degrees and that the wood was quarter-sawn at the lumberyard – it increases the hardness by 20%, is a bit more expensive, but it looks beautiful.
1. Stir stain well.
2. With rubber gloves on, I used a brush (you can also use a sponge or old rag) to cover the bottom of the mantel. Applying stain to the bottom first means you don’t have to worry about dripping while the mantel is upside down! Or I should say the stain will still drip, but you’ll be covering it up when you stain the front – and cover it up quick, that dripping stain dries immediately. Next up is the top of the mantel and then finally the front, making sure to brush in one continuous movement in the same direction of the grain.
3. I then let the first coat of stain dry and reapplied several times.
4. It’s a good idea to apply a top coat of polyurethane to seal in the mantel (and off gasses) and to protect it from water rings from future vases, wine glasses, etc.
5. The entire mantel stayed outside for 3-4 days to prevent any off gassing in the house.
Here she is, all dressed for Easter! It makes such a difference in the room, I love it.
The extent of our Easter decorations this year is fresh flowers and beautiful hand blown eggs decorated by my Mom when she was my age.
What a neat gift to pass down through the generations, right?
My dad recently sent us this picture that he took of Liv when she was just two weeks old, he had it mounted on photo board – I love her little expression and her little scrunched forehead. So alert when she was so young!
And now the living room has a brand new look!
More living room posts: mantel progress, updating a fireplace mantel part 1, bookshelf styling tips, decorating in layers: stage 1, inspiration boards, picking the perfect couch, custom lampshade, coffee table-to-ottoman, and the‘before’ photos.
Tags: Before & After, Construction, Crafty Solutions, DIY, Home, Living Room, Tutorial
Posted in Home, Our Living Room, Renovating Adventures | 14 Comments »
A while back I had mentioned a little side project that I was really excited about – I had plans to build a new mantel!
Our living room has original 1930s architectural features such as an arched ceiling and doorway, but the painted brick fireplace is out of place (it might even hide the original fireplace?). We have plans to give it a full makeover at some point, but for today a new wooden mantel will hopefully do the trick in updating it a bit (see more before photos here).
When I shared my idea of boxing in the top of the brick with my carpenter friend (thanks, Dave!) he thought that the idea would work well and gave me tips on how to build the box. I then took my measurements and headed down to Dixieline, a local home improvement/lumber yard.
I worked out my plans with the head mill man and began brainstorming ideas on what types of glue, vices, clamps, etc. I would need when it dawned on me that I ought to ask for a quote. Maybe the milling department (with their plethora of tools) would be able to build my mantel for a reasonable price.
The quote? $60. That included cutting all angles (and to build a box with no seams, there are a ton) and mitering of all of the edges. I would stain the mantel myself but I was 100% okay with that. Done and done.
We chose douglas fir for its durability and look (douglas fir was used in many of the homes built before 1950) so that the new mantel might even perhaps look original when all is said and done (aka bricks are covered).
Dixieline wanted a full week to finish the project… and I waited with excited anticipation.
But then this happened.
Somewhere along the lines communication messages were crossed and while we had agreed that submitted measurements would be for the inside of the mantel box, they were instead made to fit the outside dimensions. Aka the box was about an inch to short.
I explained the mistake to Dixieline and they happily agreed to build another. It would just take a bit more time. Sooooo I’ll hopefully be back with a happy ending to this story sometime soon!
More living room posts: updating a fireplace mantel part 1, bookshelf styling tips, decorating in layers: stage 1, inspiration boards, picking the perfect couch, custom lampshade, coffee table-to-ottoman, and the ‘before’ photos.
Tags: Before & After, Construction, Crafty Solutions, Decorating, DIY, Fireplace, Home, Living Room
Posted in Home, Renovating Adventures | 1 Comment »
When we first moved into our home we fell in love with the large living room space and the beautiful arched ceilings.
We were also thrilled to finally have a fireplace! A fireplace of our very own.
High on our priority list was tearing down the white brick to reveal (hopefully) the original Spanish-style fireplace within. Well… two and a half years later that big fireplace reveal has moved quite a ways down the list.
The mantel decor has seen a few changes over the past two years, but here’s a look at in-progress photos from 2010:
Remember the big mirror or photo collage debate? Here’s a shot of the mirror option.
So while the fireplace is now low on the re-do totem pole, I’d still love to give it a quick, attractive update before it gets its big makeover somewhere down the line.
My initial thought was a simple, sleek beam that would grace the top of the fireplace and sit like one large block right on the existing brick mantel. Something like these photos:
It might even function like a hollow wooden box that sits on the top row of bricks with all of the edges mitered to create a seamless look. Easy, right? A little staining and a new mantel? We’ll see. I’m off to share my idea with a carpenter friend to see what the options (and cost) might be.
Finally, I’m headed to New Orleans this weekend! Any suggestions?
Tags: Construction, Crafty Solutions, DIY, Living Room
Posted in Home, Our Living Room, Renovating Adventures | 5 Comments »