Faux Antique Mantel – DIY for only $75!
My cute little office has gone thru quite the transition since we moved in 2 1/2 years ago. Originally intended for my wedding stationery business, Lilah Paper, I found that the majority of my client correspondence was being maintained via phone/email. Hence, my office sat unused (my computer being the exception) for the duration of the year. This meant all of the kiddos art projects and creative endeavours were being carried out on our kitchen counter or dining room table, making those rooms completely dismantled and unusable for casual meals with family and friends. So, after much deliberation, it only made sense to rework our current room situation into one that would better suite our family’s needs. This meant making my personal office space into a shared project room that both the kids and myself could use.
Having come to peace with this, there were a few things I knew I would want for this room… 1) shiplap (but that is for another post) and 2) a faux fireplace mantel and surround for the wall. For years, I have drooled over vintage fireplace surrounds like the ones pictured below. I simply LOVE how they give any room an “instant story”… evoking warmth, character and visual interest! PLUS, it gives me another area to decorate with the changing seasons! So, that’s just a win/win, right?!
(photo credit: A Bowl Full of Lemons)
(Photo Credit: Gable Lane)
So the search for the perfect fireplace began! I knew I wanted it to look very similar to the ones pictured, and I also knew that I did not want to spend any more that $200 for it. Turns out this was easier said than done! The only similar fireplace surrounds I could find were going for upwards of $750 🙁 or, if they were hovering around my desired price range, they simply weren’t exactly what I was looking for. So, if you can’t find it… MAKE IT!
With a little help from my hubby (the Spruce), this project took two days and only $75!! Here is how we did it 🙂
(1) 5/8 in. 4×8 piece of finished plywood ($36)
(1) 2×4 prime whitewood stud ($3)
(1) 2×8 rough green western red cedar ($23)
(1) 9 ft. piece of 3/4 in. x 1-1/4 in. Hardwood Base Shoe Moulding ($10)
Special Walnut Stain ($0 – I had on hand)
General Finishes Antique White Milk Paint ($0 – I had on hand)
Elmer’s Carpenter Wood Glue ($3)
Compound Miter Saw
Wax Puck (or sandpaper) for distressing if desired
MANTEL DESIGN & CUT LIST
1) Cut all the pieces shown in the diagram. We cut the “upside down U” shape first, as it is the base. I had enough wood from the 4×8 sheet to cut these pieces twice. Doing so allowed me to layer them and add a bit more depth and dimension to the fireplace surround. (If you desire even more depth, you could always build out a frame on the backside and cap off the sides with finish trim).
2) I designed my scallop piece on the computer and tiled it into (8) 8.5×11 pieces. This allowed me to print out my design, tape it together, trim it out and then trace it directly onto my wood. Once it was traced, we used the jigsaw to trim it out and then sanded any rough edges.
3) Trim and sand the remaining pieces (the leg posts, mantel pieces and decorative trim). The decorative trim pieces on the posts where cut with 45 degree angles using a compound miter saw.
4) Once all the pieces were cut, I laid them out flat on the ground to review how the mantel/surround would come together. From here, I began to adhere the mantel pieces from the ground up using wood glue and our nail gun.
5) Once the mantel was strongly adhered, I gave the entire piece a coat of stain using Minwax Special Walnut. This step was needed because I knew that I wanted to distress back the paint and reveal a dark wood below it. If you are planning on painting a solid surround, you can skip this step.
6) Once the stain has dried, I used my wax puck to all of the areas I wanted to distress (natural edges and I few flat surfaces) to give that authentic chippy farm house look.
7) Next, I applied two coats of paint (General Finishes Antique White Milk Paint), distressing back the waxed areas and reapplying when needed for the second coat.
8) To distress the mantel/surround, I used a hairdryer and rag to chip away the paint. I set the hairdryer to the highest heat setting, and warmed the areas I knew had wax applied. Doing so reactivated the wax and made the paint chip away, leaving an authentic, chippy patina.
Watch the Video for my Distressing Technique
Lastly, I added a little, vintage chalkboard to the the wall inside the surround (using 3M adhesives so I can easily change this out with seasonal decor ideas), hung my kiddos sweet silhouettes and added some fun project room decor (a sugar mold filled with crayons, books, etc.) I simply LOVE how it turned out! Happy creating!!