Posted by: diywannabe | January 13, 2011

Mantel Magic

We are fortunate enough to have a working fireplace in the main gathering space of our new house.  It has yet to be used since we’ve moved in but it’s pretty to look at nonetheless.  Here is what it was looking like before we moved in:

And here’s what it’s looking like nowadays (or at least a few weeks ago at Christmas):

Notice the difference (besides the addition of holiday decorations and the loss of the scary mask)?  No?  Well I do have to admit that it’s quite subtle but makes all the difference:  PAINT!

Yes, the mantel was and still is a shade of white- that did not change.  But what was painted did change.  If you take a gander at the first photo from before we actually bought the place, you’ll notice that the mantel appears to consist of only a long white board across the brick fireplace.  And you’ll also notice that it appears to be mounted too high and too near the ceiling.  Way out of balance.  I assure you this was much more apparent when standing near it in person.

I toyed with the idea of painting the entire brick facade and hearth white like this:

But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  So permanent!  And what if it looked worse than before?  The brick wasn’t in bad shape and is actually a nice color…for brick.  I then thought about buying or building a fireplace surround like this:

Fabricated mantels and even just the materials to build it cost a lot of $$$.  So I decided to go with the cheapest fix there is out there (besides doing nothing):  paint strategically.  And if it didn’t turn out?  Well then I could always explore the more expensive options down the road.

See, the slab of wood that is acting as the mantel is actually a solid piece bolted on to two brick supports that protrude from the facade.  Since they were the same exact brick as the background they just blended in, giving the appearance that the entire mantel system was mounted higher than it actually was since your eye was drawn to the top white part.  So I did a little of this in about 20 minutes:

Okay, so it’s not perfect.  You can definitely tell that they are two different materials (brick & wood) if you were up close examining it.  But the overall appearance achieved what I was striving for- balance.  The mantel and supports now appear to be one piece and centered vertically above the fireplace!

And how much did this cost me?  A big smacking ZERO dollars!  I already had the Dove White semi-gloss paint from painting the trim and doors throughout the house.  This is the same paint that I used to makeover that Craigslist china cabinet too.

Ahhh, balance achieved.  If only it was that easy in other areas of life!

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