Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My decision making process as shown by my mantel

Step One: Establish the need. Or the want. I'm not picky, I need what I want. Simple.

A few weeks ago there were a lot of holiday mantel images being posted in blogland and I found myself wanting needing a mantel. We have a wood stove with a chimney pipe so I wasn't sure how it would work to have a mantel behind an ugly pipe. So I looked on google for ideas. And on pinterest. sheesh You'd think me and 3 other people were the only ones to
ever want to do this.

The upper left image was my inspiration.  Then I saw the cool stove pipe cover on the bottom right image and thought "hmmmmmmm." But that'll wait for another day. You can go check it out here at Fireplace Lowdown
if you like.

Step Two: Decide what would work best. And suck it up if it's not the one you wanted.

Since I still didn't know how a mantle would actually look on our wall I resorted to mocking them up in Photoshop.

On the left is the "I just had to see" suitcase shelf idea. Mr. Bad Rabbit was not impressed. Second was a Lowes mantle. On the right is a timber beam, which I wanted. The traditional Lowes style mantel won because of, well, being easy(ish). And I sucked it up and got cracking looking for that style
on Craigslist.

Mr. Bad had to go to Portland on business so I searched the I-5 corridor.

I couldn't believe it.

Who'd a thunk?

An empire fireplace mantel on Craigslist! In Eugene!

My empire-loving-heart was beating wildly as I called the seller. The ad was posted on 12/21/12 so I knew my chances were slim. Oh please oh please oh please.

They still had it (!) and Mr. Bad brought it home.

Step Three: Figure out how this change of plan is gonna work.

I Photoshopped a picture of the mantel onto the brick wall in order to determine placement. I then dumped that plan because of not wanting to do all the measuring to determine precise scale. (Lazy? Sometimes, yeah.) Enter my trusty scaffolding.

There. I didn't have to worry about getting the mantel the right size on the brick. I took pictures from 3 angles then settled down to remove the scaffolding from the images.

Perfection. The mantel is the right size on the wall and we know where we want to attach it.

Except. The mantel looked too small to me, and sorta blah. Bloody hell. More Photoshop work was needed because I knew paint was the answer.

Step Four: Paint makes everything better.

Eeny, meeny, myenie, moe. I tried a bunch of colors and narrowed it down to three. The cream and linen mantel won.

Step Five: Attaching the real thing.

 We looked at several tutorials using bolts to attach the mantel. To me that looked like an exercise in horror if the bolts didn't line up with the holes drilled into the mantel, which seemed to happen to a LOT of the bloggers showing their experience. I could just see it happening to us, and suddenly we're encroaching on Mr. Bad's X-box time and the horrors mount. Besides, it looked hard

Instead, we used something called a French Cleat. They come in many sizes and styles. We chose two 12" sets. We used a level to mark the horizontal line on the brick and mantel and attached the brackets. What's great about this method is you can easily remove the mantel if needed. You'll find the cleats in the picture hanging section at Lowes.

 The mantel appears larger and is more of a focal point with the light paint. Too bad about that pipe ......

Let's talk paint. I used Real Milk Paint because my Miss Mustard Seed paint hasn't arrived yet. The top color is a mixture of gray, mustard, pumpkin and white. The bottom is Buttermilk. I used Milk Paint because I wanted the chippy finish. It turned out just as I hoped.

Now I have a place for my toys. See? I NEEDED this mantel.

Check it out. I found this on Craigslist in California - my mantel used to be a buffet mirror. We kinda wondered .....
Of course, now I want the buffet more than words can express but they want a lot of money and I only have a little bit of money so that's just not gonna happen. sigh


  1. The mantle looks great! The cleat was a great idea! It looks so much easier to install and, dear God in heaven, we must not encroach on Mr. Bad's X-Box time! The safety of the free world would be at stake!

  2. beautiful work I would like to paint some of my furniture but Im on a Very tight budget. Do you know of any paint affordable paint that well produce them same results? Thanks so much...

  3. Hope you don't mind, but I nominated your blog for a Liebster Award.

    Kind regards

  4. Beautiful job! I want a mantel!! whine whine. lol I love how you used photoshop to check everything out first! It looks wonderful and I love using milk paint also. Thanks for sharing at Transformed Tuesday.

  5. I think your mantel is darling! What a great find! I think its perfect! Love the paint job.

  6. What a great choice as the heavy bulk of the empire style mantle was need to balance the wood burning stove! Lovely!


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