top of page
  • Julie @ Home On The Hill

DIY Fireplace Mantel - In the nick of time for Christmas

We took on the challenge of building 2 fireplace mantels in our new farmhouse.

The first one went up fairly fast as we needed to get organised so the gas log fireplace could be installed in time for Winter. The second mantel, well not so quick, in fact we only just did it a few weeks ago so I could decorate it for Christmas!

So many things to do in a new house and this poor fireplace stood bare for nearly 9 months.

Here is a DIY tutorial on how we made the mantel just in time for Christmas decorations!

We built our mantel from pine and 2 old wood corbels I found at a salvage yard that needed some serious sanding to remove years of flaking paint (always wear a dust mask when sanding vintage items as old paint often contained lead).

We also trimmed down one side 'leg' of the corbels to make them even.

I wanted the fireplace mantel to be simple and white to fit in with our house colour scheme and style.

So we purchased a length of pre primed pine wide enough to fit the sides of our mantel and approx 35mm thick and cut them to length based on the height we wanted our mantel shelf at.

We then attached the corbels to the top of each side piece by gluing and then screwing from the back of the side pieces into the corbel in two places with 80mm wood screws that counter sink their heads into wood. The corbels would hold the weight of the mantel shelf in part so needed to be strongly secured.

The side pieces were glued and clamped to the fireplace sides and we screwed them in place from inside the fireplace. (NOTE: When I say 'we' in this post I usually mean my husband!)

Next step was to add the filler piece across the top of the fireplace opening that sits under the mantel shelf, it was a 19mm piece of plain pine cut to fit and then we added some plain 40mm wide pine trim around the edges in a shaker style that was the right thickness to match the depth of the side panels.

The mantel shelf was deeper than I wanted, so we trimmed one side along the whole length using a table saw to keep the cut straight.

Like our other fireplace mantel we liked the mantel shelf to continue around the sides of the fireplace and so the shelf needs to be cut at the back of each side at an angle, so a mitred piece of additional pine shelf timber could be added in, glued and then screwed back into the fireplace wall, then the join and screw holes gap filled.

How far the mantel shelf extends out the sides or at the front is personal preference so I suggest you place some wood pieces on top of the corbels to see how things look from different angles before deciding on your finished sizing.

We lastly added in some more 40mm pine trim around the the fireplace opening to finish it off and painted it black as well as the inside of the fireplace after the rest of the mantel was painted white using a semi gloss water based paint.

This fireplace has no permanent fire in it as we found the gas log fire in our other fireplace was strong enough to heat the lounge room as well. So for now we just have a decorative basket with Christmas pine branches in it for Christmas (it's Summer here) as we don't need a fire until Winter. We intend to buy a small gas or electric fire to fit the space in the future.

Last step in the process was to tile the gap between the fireplace opening trim & the panel above. This time it wasn't 'we' but actually me that did the tiling.

I used left over carrera marble herringbone pattern tiles we had from the house build and tacked some into the space using nails through the gaps to check how many would fit and then cut my tile sheets to match. Hubby trimmed down a few tiles as required with a stone cutting disc on an angle grinder - we found taping the tiles back and front with masking tape helped to stop them chipping in the process.

I then applied the special tile glue made for porous stone directly to the plaster wall, used a tilers comb to rake grooves into the grout and applied the tiles. Later that day when the glue was set I grouted between the tiles with an off white grout, washed them down gently with a damp sponge and sat back an enjoyed my handy work!

The marble hearth we had purchased at a bargain price when a stone supplier was closing down at the same time as we were laying the floor so it had been in place for some time, but finishing the mantel allowed us to finally add the trim work around it. So another job off the list!

We hung a hand carved mirror I had owned for many years above the mantel. I applied some gold craft paint to parts of the mirror design, let it dry then sanded most of it off to give a time worn effect, like a gilded mirror that over time had lost most of it's gilding, just leaving a subtle hint of it.

Less than a week later the fireplace mantel was decorated for Christmas.

I'll give a DIY on my mantel garland in my next post.


bottom of page