A few months ago, before I started working on the bathrooms, I built us a new mantel for the reading room. The majority of it went up in one day and I got the glass shelves cut for it less than a week later, but it sat after that for a while...still not quite complete. I used mostly old molding Ben and I got from an Architectural Salvage place, including the brackets that "hold up" the actual mantel board (they used to be spindles for a porch). The old wood had such interesting patina and we couldn't decide whether to paint it all, paint just some of it, or not paint it at all.
Here's what it looked like with no paint and before I added the scroll-y brackets and upsidedown finials for the spindles. Looking at it now, I'm glad we painted it...it looks so unfinished. I did leave the chipping white wood as is though and we need to add some color or pattern onto the brown board behind the shelves.
BUT...Here's what it looked before when we bought the house....
I'm not sure what the original mantel (the one that was built with the house) for this fireplace looked like, but it wasn't this. The other two fireplaces have their original stone mantels. This fireplace also has a useful, but awkward looking pair of cubbies above it. I believe they added these during the renovation right before we bought the house, but I'm not sure. It would be great if there was another skinny cubby on the other side to make it symmetrical, but the wall isn't deep enough on that side. Ben and I brainstormed for over a year trying to figure out how to fix that visual conundrum. We were planning on replacing the mantel itself with an old found mantel of normal proportions...until it finally dawned on me. A floor to ceiling mantel!
And as for that skinny lone side cubby? I made a hidden door so I could store my prized feather tree and other doodads while not on display. It's the perfect size!
I kept these two elements in their original state. They may get painted one day when we get tired of the contrast, we'll see.
The decorative bracket is from home depot...boring I know, but I didn't want to wait until I found the perfect piece while treasure hunting. The majority of the rest of the wood was very carefully chosen from salvage or found in our basement. With my measuring tape in hand and my plans all drawn out and my thinking cap on, it took about three hours to pick out all the materials and cost about $50.
The glass was definitely much pricier, but I needed it thick so it would support lots of doodads...mostly Ben's camera collection. The whole mantel and shelving wound up still costing less than the smaller beat up mantels at the salvage place that were all the wrong size anyway...and much much much cheaper than a new one. Score!
I thought this Anthropologie wallpaper would fit nicely as a backdrop to the shelves, but Ben nixed it. I guess it's plain particle board (also salvaged) for now!
And this cute little mantel accessory was picked out of the dumpster at the auction house last weekend. I think it's a draft horse, but who knows.
I hope you like my new and still evolving mantel as much as we do! :)