Scrawny to brawny: a mantle story

So here's the before:
This was last year for Valentine's Day. I decorated with candy and it was awesome/terrible. But if you look at the mantle itself, you can see that it's pretty plain (except for the diamond doo-dads). Awhile ago, I had a thought for making it a little taller and a little deeper and just a little bit more of a feature, I guess.

{I chose a terrible time of day to take pictures- naptime. That, plus crappy cell phone pics kind of make this "after" shot worse than the "before." Ahwell.}

I like it a lot; it's pretty much exactly how I imagined it turning out. I also love how it makes my picture look like it was hung at the right height (I hung it too far above the original mantle, but there was no way I was going to rehang it- not with plaster walls). And I love that it's deeper. Another thing you can't tell in the before picture is that the base of the biggest apothecary jar is actually hanging over the edge a tiny bitty bit, which made me feel like it was going to topple over without any reason at all (I was maybe being a little paranoid).

So, if you think this is pretty cool and also have a scrawny mantle, this is what I did:

First, I screwed a 2x4 into the mantle a bit back from the edge:

Then into that I screwed my board/crown molding combo:

 I don't have any pictures of the crown molding and board before they're attached. The board I used was a 4" wide poplar (if anyone cares). I used Liquid Nails and little finishing nails to attach the crown molding to it.
 I screwed through the board and into the 2x4 to make it really securely attached to the mantle. Since the screws were right on the front, I predrilled the hole, then used a bigger drill bit to make it wide enough at the top for the head of the screw. There are drill bits you can get that do it automatically, but whatever. All the ugliness got covered with spackle anyway.

So you were maybe wondering what happened to this bit of board...
{Teehee- I added the text and box in powerpoint, that's why it looks terrible.}
 Well, I didn't think things through 100% and didn't realize I needed that corner gone (you'll see why) until after it was all attached to the crown molding. So I used our little Dremel to hack it off. It wasn't a very neat process and it made my whole living room kind of smoky, but we (the Dremel and I) got it done.

Here's the front view of that same step:

The next thing to do was make some supports next to the wall for the top to rest on:

I just used Liquid nails. I was going to screw them in as well, but with the fronts piece (Arrested Development, anyone?) in, it was really awkward and I decided they'd be fine with just glue (they are).

Adding the mantle shelf was the next step, but first I had to glue/nail in a little triangle here on the bookcase side so you can't see inside the hollow mantle.

 I put my Valentine's stuff up on the mantle between just about every step because I had a ton of stuff crammed on top of the piano (the only other place in our living room my daughter can't reach) and it was bugging me.


Here's why I had to cut off that little edge- so my little end cap could be a normal shape that would be easy to cut with a jigsaw.
{After I caulked the edges and filled in the screw holes.}
And then:

There it is. My new brawny mantle. HUGE HAPPY FACE!


Eclectically Vintage said...

What a great idea to bulk up a mantel! When I reno'd my house, I made sure the mantel was nice and deep!
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Rachel {BubblyNatureCreations.com} said...

Wow!!! What a difference!!! I love all the details. I have a link party every weekend if you want to join here: http://bubblynaturecreations.com/2012/02/project-party-weekend-shamrock-wreath.html

Chris said...

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