Y’all! Finally! I am so excited to tell you that at long last we have a fireplace mantle. With the holidays on the horizon I just could not stand living without one another second. How could I decorate if I couldn’t even hang my stockings? Priorities, people!
For months the process has seemed daunting, but in reality it was so easy that I am actually mad at myself for going so long without tackling it. If a floating mantle is on your to do list, jump on it! Within just a few hours you can totally transform your fireplace. The total cost for our project came in under $50! We are in love with it. What do you think?
The issue that had scared me away for so long was how to attach a mantle to the brick masonry. It turns out we were lucky enough to be able to reuse the two old anchors that someone else had previously drilled into the brick. (I have to wonder what the old fireplace mantle looked like and why someone would ever remove it?) If you’re hanging on drywall or wood, your project will be easier, too!
Once you’ve settled on how you will attach your mantle (Google this if you need help!) you will also need the following:
– Three 1×8 boards
– 2 end cap pieces (leftovers from cutting your 1x8s)
– 1 2×4 support board
– bolts/screws to attach to wall
– Liquid nails
– a nail gun and nails
– sand paper
– tools to distress your wood
It turned out that with my dad’s help, we only needed to purchase new sandpaper, the 1x8s, the 2×4, and the bolts that screwed into the brick anchors. Easy!
With the help of my handy (and often mentioned) painter’s tape, I was able to determine map out what I wanted the mantle to look like and I determined I wanted it to be 8 inches thick and 55 inches long. We cut the 2×4 support piece just shy of the 55 inches and attached it to the wall with 1/4 inch bolts, being sure it was level along the way. At this point we pulled, wiggled, and did all we could to be sure this support piece was sturdy and secure enough to hold the future mantle and decor. I can’t lie, I was so nervous the whole thing would come crashing down but no such horror happened even when my husband was basically hanging from the board.
Once the support board was in place it was time for the fun to begin! My husband had already cut the 3 1×8 boards to 55 inches and trimmed the end cap pieces to fit to form what is basically a box. Once I had sanded down the rough cut edges I was able to to start distressing the boards. Using nails, a flat head screwdriver, and a hammer, I dented, chipped, scratched and banged away at the boards so that they no longer looked new. I also used two different colors of stain to create a more custom look. (I always wear gloves and use a rag when staining. I feel like this gives me more control of the saturation than a brush would.)
We left the boards to dry overnight and started again the next day when my dad arrived with the air compressor and nail gun. This project could be accomplished without the nail gun, but let’s be honest, it made it a whole lot easier. At this point all we had to do was clamp the boards together to form the mantle, being sure that the front of the mantle showed no edges so that once hung, it would look like one solid piece of wood. We used liquid nails for extra security and nailed the “box” together. We took extra care to be sure that when nailing the boards together that all the edges lined up as smoothly as possible.
Once the mantle was fully assembled, I hammered down all the sharp edges of the 1x8s to give it a more rounded appearance and add more distressing, especially on the corners. Then it was time to install! We centered the mantle over the fireplace on top of the support board we had already installed, made sure it was level, and then nailed all along the back of the mantle to attach it to the 2×4. Voila! It was done. I could not believe how easy it all came together. The change to the feeling of the entire room was instant!
The fireplace is so much more impressive with the mantle right? All along it was just lacking in character and getting lost in the room. Now it feels like the star of the show, finally standing out from the built-in shelving, wood beams, and sliding doors.
Also recently I have gotten a lot of new questions about the painted brick on the fireplace. The whitewashed effect was created by using water to thin out leftover white paint from our bathroom and lightly brushing it on, being sure not to saturate any one area. Once I had one coat finished, I stepped back and decided to go over it all again. The whole process did not take long at all, but I didn’t take photographs or videos at the time. Trust me, it is so easy to do! Don’t be scared. I didn’t buy or use anything special, just what I had on hand. I literally did it the first day I had the keys to this house, just jumping right in to get it done. The impact is dramatic as you can see in this photo below…
Can you believe how far we’ve come? Now that we’ve knocked this big item off our to do list, I think I can settle in and enjoy the holidays without thinking of too many other projects that need to get done. I will say though, tackling something I was scared to try has me more confident and curious as to what else we could accomplish!
Don’t forget, you can always check my saved stories on Instagram to see videos of this project if you’re more of a visual learner. Easy. Peezey. Go for it, friend!