Build your own mantel

September 26, 2011

For months since we moved into this house, I’ve been dreaming of having a fireplace/mantel. The idea of having a real fireplace was amazing, but the reality of it, not so much. Last year for Christmas, I wanted one even more so I could have a real place to put some stockings, so I decided I would {one day, if I ever got around to it} try to find one to put in.

This may be a strange concept to you to have a mantel that is completely inoperable, but in these older homes on our street, it’s actually pretty common. I drew one up back in January and just dreamed about how I would love it. Well, months went by and we were busy with everything else, but this mantel staying in the back of my mind. I had searched and searched every single junk shop, over and over with no luck trying to find the right size and style. That’s when I just decided I was going to have to build one.

I knew this was one thing I wanted to tackle myself, I didn’t want any help from husband because this was my project to tackle.

I thought about it a couple of times, but knew if I started it with him around, he would feel obligated to help or do everything. I wanted to be able to say that from start to finish, I did that. Friday I knew he was going to be busy at work and into the evening and Saturday he was tied up all day. I seized the opportunity and took my drawings to Lowe’s. I had drawn this thing up so many times I knew it backwards and forwards. I knew how many of everything I needed and I was fully confident that I could do this on my own.

One slight change up while sitting on my lumber cart at Lowe’s, and I was ready to get started. I decided the more economical way to get this project accomplished was to buy a 4’x8′ sheet and have them cut it down into my larger planks that I could manage, thus saving me lots of $$$ on buying boards. My final total for everything {minus some paint, primer, poly I had on hand} was around $107.

I wish I had taken more “in progress” photos, but I was in the zone cutting and nailing and the last thing I wanted to do was stop to take photos, so you just get to see the {almost} final product!

Yes, there are cords, but keep reading, that’s where you come in!

I love it! I love it so much more than the buffet that was in its place, which I’ve already sold and has paid for this little build, and then some!

So you saw the awful cords? Yes, they’re in the middle and on the side. The one on the side will be moved, it has actually been on the to do list since we moved in. The one in the middle was something I considered for quite some time before I began building. I could have had our electrician move the plug up above the mantel, but what I didn’t like about that was the added cost, and the fact that we would have tons of wires up on TOP of the mantel {TV power & HDMI, DVD player power & HDMI, Cable box/DVR power and coax cable, and a Wii with all its cables – not yet connected}, something I completely wanted to avoid. Also, I am much more comfortable with all of our electronics plugged into surge protectors, call me “Safety Sally.” So I devised a little plan.

I made a hole in the top of the mantel {covered up by the DVD player and TV} and in the underside as well. This allows me to run the cords I need up from my power strip/surge protector that’s sitting on the floor. While it doesn’t look like much now, it hopefully will in a second. This is where you come in, I want you, yes YOU to help me make a decision on what to do next!

I have been playing around with the idea of filling the space from floor to top with cut wood like in both of these photos:

I absolutely LOVE the look and love how it ties into being a “fireplace” without actually burning anything. At the same time, I’m also equally in love with this idea:

I love them both and I just can’t decide. Husband and I both have our favorites, but we both really like BOTH of them and we just don’t know which would be better, so I’m asking for your help! I’ve set up a poll below and I’d love for your input, even if you don’t comment on the blog, just click what you think would look better, or what you would rather see in our house. There’s a 99% chance I will actually go with whatever you pick, so choose wisely ;)! The good news is, we like both options so either way, we’ll win!

So what do you think?

Books? or Cut Logs?

[polldaddy poll=5533413]

Voting has closed, and you have spoken! Cut logs it is!

Inspiration images found here


UPDATE :: For the full out instructions of how I built this, go here!

I’m linking up here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, & here.


  1. Grandma C says:

    You ask a really difficult question. I have never lived in a house with enough shelf space for books, even now with 8 or so huge bookcases. I also really like the wood. The good thing is that neither has to be permanent. I love to change things around. So which ever you choose you can change your mind if you tire of the decision. You did an exceptional job of the mantel. Many of your ancestors would be smiling down at you if we could only see them. Love Grandma C

    September 26th, 2011 at 11:59 am

  2. DAD says:

    I like the aquarium best!

    September 26th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

  3. Brandie says:

    I say books. Actually I say logs for the fall/winter and books for the spring/summer. I, obviously, have a difficult time making decisions 🙂

    September 26th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

  4. Bekah@IfWorkPermits says:

    You are not alone. I don’t have a fireplace in my house but I really want a mantel for decor, stockings, etc. I never thought of using it as an entertainment center but that is such a great idea! I love how it turned out! I might have to beg the husband for a mantel this year… Either way great job! And I think the logs would look great and keep with the fireplace without a fireplace theme 🙂


    September 26th, 2011 at 11:28 pm

  5. Rachelle says:

    Wow this is really cool! I think for fall/winter logs would be nice, but if you need storage for books I like that look as well. Maybe switch it out as the seasons change? I’d love it if you’d stop by my blog and check out the giveaway I’m having for a Dremel Saw Max! New follower here!

    September 27th, 2011 at 8:11 am

  6. Wanda says:

    I love your mantel. I have wanted to come up with an idea for a faux one. Thanks for sharing your inspiration. I am of the school that we should have nothing in our homes that is not useful or beautiful. Your mantel is both. First I would use it for books if you have lots and lots and are short on space and second. The logs may not be so useful in a faux fireplace but certainly are beautiful.It’s a win win.

    September 27th, 2011 at 8:35 am

  7. Just Jaime says:

    Logs, but I like both =)

    September 27th, 2011 at 6:29 pm

  8. Christy says:

    Books! Less chance of bugs/spiders making a home in there. Or is that all I think about with the enormous amounts of spiders in SoCal…

    September 28th, 2011 at 11:49 pm

  9. jami says:

    Hi Kelly! LOVE your mantle! Cut logs and books are both such great ideas!!! Logs look less cluttered, but book are more colorful…hmmm…what will you do? Can’t wait to see! Thanks so much for dropping by and linking up to the Tuesday To Do Party!

    October 1st, 2011 at 3:23 pm

  10. Nikki says:

    i love it! I think either would look good! Thanks so much for linking up to Tuesday Talent Show! I would love to have you stop by and link up again tomorrow with more great projects!

    October 3rd, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Leave a comment