Simple Mantel Make-Over

We recently repainted our living room and gave it a completely new look. Although I love the character of our home, that much oak can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially with its orangish tone. I would have no problem if the wood was stained a deeper colour, but unfortunately it is all that lighter orange colour. I used to dream of stripping the wood and re-staining it a nice deep brown, but over the years I have come to realize that idea is nothing short of crazy. We have too much wood and the job would be way too big, especially when you consider all of the work on the coffered ceilings alone! So I have given up on that idea 🙁

However,  when we were redoing the living room, I really felt the fireplace needed a lift! I tossed around the idea of painting it out white, but Tim didn’t like the idea and I wasn’t completely sold on ruining the original brick either. It is super low maintenance and not horrible. In the end, I convinced him to let me sand and stain the mantel. It wasn’t a big job (although we did have some difficulty getting the stain to take at first) and I thought the pay off was huge. The darker stain just made the fireplace look more unified and matched the dark brick much better than the original stain. I had also planned to remove the mirror from above, but surprisingly, it didn’t seem to bug me as much with the new stained mantel.

I must admit that I did put a bit more effort into “staging” the mantel as well. To do this, I actually did some research and came across some really good information. Among the best is the information I found on Kylie M. Interiors. She goes through a 4 step process and it really helped me to create a look that I finally feel I can live with. Here is a quick summary of her suggestions.

  1. Find the center of your mantel and choose a “key” piece to anchor your design
  2. Decide on a colour palette and be sure to consider incorporating different surface finishes and textures
  3. Choose to set up your mantel symmetrically (exactly the same on both sides) or balanced (use different items but create a balanced look at both ends by making sure they have the same “visual weight”)
  4. Create decorative triangles by setting up your items in such a way that “triangles” are created by using varying heights of objects.
Staged Mantel

I tried to create a balanced look using visual triangles made with groups of accessories I already had around the house.

Clearly, I am no designer, but Kylie really does a great job of explaining the steps to setting up a mantel and also provides some great links. By the time you read through her post and check out the various examples, you will be well on your way to creating a great look. When I started mine, I wasn’t really sure what I would end up with on the mantel, but in the end, I found everything I needed right here at home. It was just a matter a finding pieces I already had and then setting them up to create a look I was happy with. The only piece that was new was the metal “R”. I had picked that up several months ago on a clearance sale for $2 (regular $14 I think). I couldn’t resist it, even though I had no idea where I was going to put it. So it too was something I already had at home and I actually like the contrast of the white against the brick. Now that I know the look I am going for, it will be much easier to keep my eyes open and find the perfect pieces to really create the look I want. I think that I might like a larger “key” piece and may even incorporate a few smaller framed pictures, for a layered look. Overall I am pleased with how this turned out and have a better understanding of what I may need to purchase in the future. I am especially thrilled with the darker stain ~ a simple fix and yet seemed to make a huge difference (at least to me!)

About Cindy RoyI am a busy mother, wife and kindergarten teacher. I have a huge list of loves! I love my family, Springs Church, old houses, "up-cycling" and DIY projects, scrapbooking, volleyball, interior design, cake decorating, party planning, healthy eating, and sleeping. I am very organized and reflective, and am continually striving to do life more lovingly, passionately, effectively and successfully.

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