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Well, talk about a tutorial that sure has been a long time coming! I’ve honestly been working on this blog post for over a year I think, and I’m so happy to finally share with you how we built this faux mantle in our master bedroom! It was truly a labor of love (and blood and sweat and even a few tears).
An antique mantle has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember, but, unfortunately, the price tag always made it nothing more than just a wish. (Seriously, they are a F-O-R-T-U-N-E!!!) So after a whole lot of sweet talking my hubby, I was eventually able to convince him to help me make our own vintage-inspired mantle!
The idea all started with a chippy shelf that I found shoved in a closet upstairs. It had always kinda reminded me of a vintage mantle, so I decided to figure out how to add some surrounding sides to make it look like it all came as one piece. After scouring and studying Pinterest, YouTube, and various blog post tutorials, I ended up purchasing some cheap pine boards in various sizes and widths from Home Depot.
I wanted the surround sides to look like they had some depth to them, so we layered boards on top of one another as you can see above. My husband used his circular wood saw to cut down the pieces. Once we had it laid out in the design that we liked, we used wood glue and a drill to attach them to one another. We also used wood glue and screws to attach the shelf to the surrounds.
Since I wanted the sides to look weathered and worn like the shelf, I started by painting them white. After that dried, I then painted the wood pieces with Old Fashioned Milk Paint. I made my own shade by mixing the buttermilk and light cream colors together. (The beauty of milk paint is that it starts to crackle and peel just like a painted antique piece would throughout the years.) After applying two coats of this milk paint mixture and letting them dry, I then took a brush dabbed in Minwax Wood Stain (in special walnut) and lightly painted it over the milk paint to give it a “dirty” look. I used a paper towel to wipe off some of the stain so that it didn’t turn to be too dark.
Next, we had to figure out how to attach it to the wall of our bedroom. (Insert very confused emoji here….) Thank goodness for my problem-solving hubby who figured out that he needed to drill screws into the wood trim and drywall anchors into the wall. Once it was on the wall, I somehow got the bright idea to make a herringbone insert, which turned out to be a legit pain in the butt. I would NOT recommend doing it the way I did, but I will still explain it to you here.
First, I used cheap wood shims that I stained with Minwax special walnut. Once dried, I arranged the shims on a piece of thin plywood cut to the size of the “fireplace” opening. It was like a crazy brain puzzle to try to get the layout just right before I glued them all to the plywood, and if you look closely, you’ll see that they are by no means perfect. However, I had way too many cuts and not enough patience to do it all over again. (Believe me, the amount of splinters that flimsy wood caused me was too many to count!) I then slid the plywood behind the mantle surround to get it positioned. It was such a tight fit, and in hindsight, I really should have done this step before we attached the mantle to the wall, and it would have been a lot easier.
Despite all the obstacles and all the pain, I absolutely LOVE how it all turned out! It’s so fun to switch up the mantle for the different seasons, and it brings such character to this big, blank wall in our bedroom. And the best part is that it didn’t cost us a million gazillion dollars!
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