Fireplace Mantel Makeover Contest: Summer Hogan
A beautiful, stylish mantel can take a room from boring to fabulous all on its own. Equally, an outdated or unattractive mantel can create a completely opposite reaction, leaving a space feeling cold and uninteresting. Transforming a mantel doesn't have to be expensive and can be completed in a matter of days. All you need is a vision and a plan!
For this makeover, we took a builder-grade mantel and fireplace and gave it a dramatic facelift in less than four days.
The homeowner knew she wanted to go bold, as she is slowly adding modern touches throughout her home — Kilim-style rugs, brass light fixtures, saturated sofas and lots of white. We searched through inspirational images and came up with a plan to create a dramatic focal point.
My plan was to fill in the holes between the stone of the existing fireplace surround with grout and paint it white, creating a modern, cohesive fireplace surround. Then we would build a new mantel box that attached directly to the existing mantel that was larger and more streamlined. Using horizontal boards (shiplap) to wrap the wall above the mantel all the way to the ceiling was the final step.
As with any project, plans evolve as you go and this project was no exception! We intended to sand and stain the mantel board a rich color to pop against the white but when we found the rough sawn boards from a local sawmill we knew they didn't need to be touched. They were perfect as is and added so much character and history to this mantel.
We taped off the walls with painters tape and put down a plastic carpet protector to keep the carpet clean from grout and paint. If you’re doing a similar project, wipe down the stone and mantel too, so it’s free of dust and dirt. All of the prep materials cost about $30 in total; a small cost for protecting your furniture.
Grout & paint the stone
This part of the project is messy but well worth the trouble for the end result. The approximate cost for this portion of the project was $45.
1. Mix the grout, according to the bag’s instructions.
2. Fill grout bag.
3. Squirt the grout into the spaces between the stone until the spaces are filled and smooth.
4. Wipe down the stone with a damp sponge until all of the excess grout is gone.
5. Once the grout is completely dry, prime the stone with masonry primer and paint.
Build the mantel
Building the mantel was the most subjective part of the process. We measured the existing mantel and determined how big we wanted the new mantel to be. We cut each piece (bottom, top and each side) to fit and nailed them directly into the existing mantel. We allowed the top board to hang over slightly, creating a 1-inch lip. The approximate cost of the mantel was $60.
1. Custom cut the rough sawn wood to fit over the bottom, sides and top of the existing mantel. This will vary from project to project. Use a miter saw (and jigsaw if needed) to make the cuts.
2. Nail the wood pieces into the existing mantel with a nail gun and finishing nails. Start with the bottom piece, then the side pieces and finish with the top piece.
3. Sand lightly to remove splinters.
Installing the shiplap was the most labor-intensive part of the project, but once you get the first board level and nailed down, the rest of the boards go up easily.
1. Cut boards to size using a miter saw.
2. Place the first board on top of the mantel. Level it using spacers if necessary. Nail to the wall with the nail gun and finishing nails. Nail the side boards to the wall, lining up with and fitting tightly between the wall and the front boards.
3. Using ⅛-inch tile spacers between the boards, place the next board on top of the first and nail to the wall.
4. Repeat steps two and three until the wall is finished.
5. Nail the one-by-three board on top of the last board that meets the ceiling as a cap.
6. Paint the walls.
This is a large, two-story living room and I knew going white all over was a risk but it definitely paid off! The mantel is now the main focus and looks beautiful against the white walls and stone. The contrast between the modern fireplace and rustic mantel is a perfect way to mix the old with the new. The materials for this project (not including the fun accessories) came out to about $875. Not bad for a project with this impact!
Total Cost: $875
Vote for her Fireplace Mantel Makeover submission here.