Mantel Overhaul Part III: Our finished masterpiece!


Our fireplace area was desperately in need of a makeover.  When we first moved in, it looked like this:

Mantle when we bought the house

Then after having professionals knock down the awkward ledge (running the length of the wall just below the ceiling) and flush out the ginormous recessed shelves, painting the wall taupe, and replacing the gray tile with earth-toned tile, it looked like this:

In-progress: fireplace after re-tiling

It was looking better, but we were still in need of a mantel. Full-surround style mantels start around $470 at Home Depot, and one with more detail  costs $1,290! The decision to build one ourselves wasn’t difficult after seeing those prices. Our DIY mantel came in at just under $100 including all paint and materials.

But before I get carried away with the details, let me show you the finished product.

The finished mantel!

A close-up view of the molding

So here’s a little breakdown of how Blake built it. He did this project entirely by himself, which is beyond impressive. He used a few 3/4″ sheets of MDF, some pre-made crown molding (both large and small), and white paint. He cut the MDF into pieces with the dimensions he needed using either my dad’s table saw or his Skil saw, then used a Kreg jig to screw them together. He also used some wood glue, clamps, and a nail gun when necessary for extra adhesion. He added a little extra detail the vertical columns by using my dad’s router to cut grooves into the faces. I’ll let the pictures explain the rest.

Getting ready to be Bob Vila

Practice round with the router table - making grooves for the side columns

Finished column faces

Ripping a 2x4 with an angled blade to make french cleats to hang the mantle on the wall

French cleat

Testing the french cleats to make sure they securely fasten the mantel to the wall

An extra long cleat for the top piece

The half-finished mantel mounts to the wall securely

Adding the crown molding

Painting it white

And once again to save you from scrolling back to the top....The finished mantel!

Other small changes included painting the formerly brass fireplace screen black using high heat spray paint. We also finished installing baseboard around the finished mantel to complete the look. Oh, and my favorite feature? Blake put the fireplace on a switch hidden on one of the sides of the columns so you can turn it off and on with ease.

We’re pretty in love with it. I can’t wait to cozy up in front of the fire with hot cocoa on cold winter nights.