It is so fun to find new ways to express your personal style around your home. As people who deeply appreciate historical charm, this move has been eye opening when it comes to attempting to add elements that don’t scream “brand new.” We certainly believe in mixing in a lot of modern elements however, we love historical character. For instance, crown molding, brick fire places, and built in cabinets are our kind of language. Looking for something to cozy up our entryway, we decided to add some historical inspired character mixed with our own personal style.
If you have been in an upscale antique or architectural salvage boutique you know a mantel can cost upwards of $1,000… depending on size, age, and detail. Well, that just wasn’t happening for this family. God blessed us with just the right timing where someone from a neighboring town moved and had a decorative mantel they just couldn’t take. I had offered to pay a little something towards it, but the kindness from a stranger offered to give it to us for the best price, free!
Now, this was not a real fireplace mantel. It held a tile mirror and looked as if it was a purchase from Hobby Lobby at some point, perhaps in the early 2000s. This isn’t quite the look I am going for in the house as we make this ours. So, we decided to make it fit into our modern farmhouse inspired look.
Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how we did it… all with items we already had. So, in a sense this was a completely FREE project that paid off really well!
Let’s start our supply list. You’ll likely need the following basics for any refurbished piece you create.
-Sanding Block or Hand Sander
-Tools like a screw driver/drill, hammer, etc depending if you’re going to mount/anchor your piece. And screws or other supplies you’ll use to anchor.
-Cardboard or something to protect your work area
- Take Anything Unwanted Away. The mirror wasn’t our style, so we took it off. It was simple, we just had to unscrew it from the back. If we had to, we were just going to carefully use a jig saw to cut that layer of wood out…
- SAND. I cannot stress to you the importance of sanding off any varnish that is on anything you refinish! Trust me, paint or stain will not adhere to any surface properly if there is still a varnish type coating. You can use a sanding block or electric hand sander. I opted for the block as I could sand quietly during our little one’s nap… plus I could easily get into little corners where it would have been difficult with an electric hand sander.
- Prep. When I was done sanding I gently wiped the project down with a wet cloth. Always make sure your projects are very clean before adding paint, stain, ect.
- Contour. Ladies, much like contouring your face with bronzer, I did the same with a dark walnut gel stain. I “contoured” corners and edges, places that would naturally “chip” if this were a real antique… I also put a thicker coat by where a fire would have blown up soot and smoke. Do this step outside or in a well ventilated area. I did this leaning on our back porch with a protective sheet of thick cardboard to protect the piece and any surfaces. Allow to completely dry before step 5.
- Lightly Paint. I started with a thin coat of paint over the places I didn’t contour as heavily. The places that naturally would be more protected. Think ridges and smooth surfaces. Allow to dry.
- Paint Again. Second coat, here we come! This time I did the entire piece. I made sure I used a course brush so it would add a small amount of texture and lines. I used a smaller paint brush between the small dental molding and tiny corners.
- Dry. Once you are satisfied with the coverage let it dry overnight.
- Sand. Let’s think contouring again. Remember where you added the stain? That’s what you want to see. Depending on how “chippy” you want your paint sand to your heart’s desire. I used my trusty sanding block just to allow for a little more control than our electric sander.
- Mount it securely to your wall. This step will depend on size, weight, and wall structure. We used two 4 inch screws to anchor this to the studs in the wall, as the mantle is relatively light. Your piece shouldn’t move at all when you jostle it–if it does you need to adjust.
- DECORATE AND ENJOY!
- ***Optional. Add something that makes you happy. We added a small chalk board in the back of this piece. Why? I wanted a creative place for our kiddo to express her creativity when she gets older… and her scribbles now. I also plan to use this for Bible verses and Scripture memory. You can find the chalkboard here.
Here’s a link to other “faux mantle” opening ideas from some of my favorite designer friends. [PINTEREST INSPIRATION]
OTHER PRODUCT SOURCES:
Stain: Miniwax Walnut Stain… find it [Here].
Paint: Behr in Ballet White.. find it [Here].
Sanding Block: Find a similar product [Here].
I sincerely hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you did, be sure to share with your Facebook friends, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. Just be sure to tag us or give us credit for any photos used! As always, I hope this inspires you to find how you can make your home more of a place you want to come home to.