Two Story Cottage

Mantel Tutorial

Before I begin “Bulking up the Mantel 101” let me give you a little background.  Every night I sit with  Mr. C & watch a little TV.  I spend half the time glaring at my mantel.  I am not a fan of the TV over the fireplace.  I’d much rather have a big piece of art & accessories.  Well, when we bought the house the TV came with it.  It fit perfectly in the giant niche over the fireplace.  So that is where it stays.  For now.  It has been 3 years.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be there forever but it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.   The mantel was attractive but puny.  I could not fit anything on it.  Nothing.  So every season when blogs are full of mantel redos I’m green with envy.

So…I decided to do something about it.  Finally.  Truth be told I’m a Letterhead (a diehard fan of The Lettered Cottage) and I was inspired by the mantel that Layla & Kevin created.   I’ve had the idea of bulking up our mantel for over a year now after being inspired on their blog but there were so many other things on THE List that seemed more important.  Now I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner.  It was such a quick & easy project!  And it has made such an impact.

To view Layla & Kevin’s mantel go here.

For those of you who need a step by step tutorial (like me)  see below.

Pretty but shallow

First I went to Home Depot and purchased one 1×8 board.  I asked the nice man in the orange apron to cut it for me.  There was just enough to cut one long piece and two side pieces.  I also purchased a chisel,  Minwax dark walnut stain, polyurethane, and wood putty.

Step 1 was to remove the decorative moulding around the mantel so that I had something to nail the board to.  I used a chisel and a hammer and surprisingly it wasn’t too hard to get off.

In this pic the decorative moulding has just been removed (the nails sticking out are probably a clue). The existing wood below is what we are nailing the wood to.

Next came the sanding.  My sister came over to help & she let me borrow her Black & Decker mouse sander.  I had never used one before but it worked like a charm.  We sanded the board until it was nice & soft.

I attempted to distress the board with a screwdriver, hammer, and other random objects but I think I could have done it a little more.

Next came the nailing of the board to the existing mantel.

We did the side pieces followed by the long piece.  My measurements were a little off so we did have to sand down one board just a bit.

Next we countersunk the nails using this tool.   We filled the holes with wood putty.

Once the mantel was up it was time to stain.  I used a foam brush and tried to keep it even.  I wiped the excess after 15 minutes.  FYI I tested the stain on a piece of board to see how long I should wait before wiping to get my desired color.  I did a “practice” piece because I didn’t want to mess up my new creation.
The mantel is officially ready for accessories.  Stay tuned for that!  For 3 years I have waited to accessorize this mantel.

Umm…ignore the paint sample stuck to the wall below.  Now that my mantel is complete I’ve got beadboard on the brain.  Nothing is ever done is it?


  1. BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

  2. Erin, I LOVE what you did! It looks absolutely amazing … like it was meant to be that way. 🙂 Great tutorial too! Wonderful job! 🙂

  3. very nice job love the apperance

  4. Looks Good… Great job! Love the color of the stain!

  5. Wow, instant warmth! The difference is amazing! Well executed!

  6. It looks great! I love dark walnut – it adds so much warmth!

  7. I love it. My stupid boring mantle looks just like yours did, and I keep dreaming about covering it up like this. Nice job!

  8. I can’t get over what a difference it makes! I foresee a lot more people doing this thanks to your tutorial!

  9. Hi! Stopping by from TDC’s B&A party. I love your mantle and beadboard. My dad recently built me a similar mantle, and left it bare for me to stain. I finished staining it, but now I’m unsure if I should use glossy or flat poly. What did you use?

  10. esse mantel é tao lindo quanto meus musculos apos usar o somatdrol por 3 meses

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