So after a long hiatus, I finally have a chance to post some of the living room projects that I’ve completed. The mantle was the one that I liked doing the most. After painting 24/7, it’s fun to do something different (even if it still involves a paint brush). I wanted a custom mantle for our newly painted fireplace but didn’t want to shell out the cash since I knew it would be expensive, so I headed over to my local building reclamation shop to see if I could find some inspiration. I like to go to Community Forklift (www.communityforklift.com) in Edmonston, MD because it’s a huge warehouse chock full of recycled building materials. There are thousands of doors, cabinets from full kitchens, tons of wood, antique elements, and many other finds. What I was most interested in were slabs of wood since I knew I could fashion a mantle out of an interesting piece of wood. So I found this beauty and like the nerd I am I was in love with it as soon as I saw it:
I like this piece because it was the right length and I loved the highly grained quality of the wood. I wanted to highlight the grain and not hide it with two much “product” so I tried stain and also lacquer on a a sample piece with the following results:
The top (the tip of the wood) is a dark wood stain and the bottom is a clear lacquer. I really liked the lacquer because I wanted something glossy that allowed the grain of the wood to pop and lacquer fit the bill perfectly. I didn’t know that much about lacquer before I used it, so I don’t want to say that it was a crapshoot whether it would turn out the way I wanted, but it was :). I painted about 8 coats of lacquer using a soft wide brush and allowed the coats to dry for at least 3 hours in between coats. I wanted the piece to be GLOSSY and look wet so I just kept painting until I achieved that result. But after all that painting I found that the bad thing about lacquer is that it REALLY smells, like the kind of smell that stays in your nose with you all day so use a fan to blow the fumes away from you and don’t paint in an enclosed area unless you like a major paint high and/or a killer headache!
So after three days of painting and then cutting it down to size, *ta da* the mantle now looks like this:
Not to be too designer-geeky but, I liked keeping the mantle looking rustic against the modern white brick of the fireplace to add some textural interest giving the two elements a nice juxtaposition. I kept the bark on the mantle to give it even more texture and it also made the mantle look more organic since the bark kind of curves a little making the mantle bow in the middle. The mantle also ties into the beams on the ceiling nicely. This is definitely a project I recommend doing since it was cheap (it was $100 total to include the slab of wood, the lacquer, and the material to hold up the mantle) and it looks great!