Let me preface this by saying, Brian wanted to name the post “Picky Mantle.” He is so punny. Also, this post was initially written by him. I just had to come in to tweak it for appropriateness and add a few comments for my own entertainment. Those can be found in the parentheses.
Have you ever looked at a fireplace and thought that something didn’t look right? Well, it is likely that the fireplace doesn’t have a mantle. When a fireplace lacks a mantle, it brings up a ton of questions: How do they hang their stockings with care? Where will they put the urns of their dead loved ones? Overall, a fireplace without a mantle is like having a (Brian’s analogy was not appropriate, so here’s mine) Christmas tree with no lights. Sure, its impressive but it lacks a key component. It just doesn’t look right.
When we bought our home, one of the first things we realized is that our fireplace needed a mantle. The problem was that the fireplace had this stone veneer all around it which complicated the installation. Then, this year, Carly had the idea to just hang the mantle from the ceiling like so.
Our friend Mike Martino then chimed in saying that it would be cool to use turnbuckles as well as that would allow you to adjust the height easily and still support the weight of the mantle and they also give a subtle nautical component because they can be found on sailboats to adjust the lines. We now had a plan…our mantle would be a hanging mantle.
We have been sitting on a piece of wood to use for the mantle for some time. When we bought our home, there was an old work bench in the garage. To make space, we tore it down. The wood it was made of was nice, thick, old oak. We have made a few shelves around the house with some of the wood. Our new mantle would be from our old workbench. The wood piece was the perfect size at 5 ft long, 1 ft deep, and 2” thick. This wood is “True-dimension” lumber which means that the width and thickness are the real dimensions as opposed to the wood you get at Home Depot today where a 2” by 4” is actually 1.5” by 3.5”.
Now – in planning for this project, we needed to make sure that the hanging mantle was hanging from something solid like a joist or stud. We quickly realized there were no joists or studs where we needed them to hang the mantle correctly. We now had a project that involved removing drywall and tying into structure (this is the part where Brian gets big worried eyes).
We enlisted our friend Mike Martino to help us with this project. He has superior home improvement skills and offered to help. Mike put a stone veneer in his last house so was familiar with the current fireplace covering. He thought there was a solid chance we could chisel some of the stones to create flat grooves where we could put brackets as long as we could screw into something substantial on the other side of the stone veneer. Mike drilled a couple small test holes (Brian was relieved to have Mike doing this part) in inconspicuous places and we got enough evidence that we decided to NOT hang the mantle from the ceiling.
We now had a plan: install brackets to support the mantle. We found the best spots within the veneer to chisel out grooves for the brackets as well as keep the brackets centered above the fireplace. Chiseling the stone veneer is delicate work; work slow and carefully remove small bits of stone. Once our grooves were chiseled, we used concrete anchors to secure our brackets. The brackets are 10” and we got all of these supplies from Home Depot. We spray painted the brackets and all the hardware black to stay consistent with the current black fireplace.
Be sure to level your mantle! Take your time and stand back to make sure it passes the eye test. Also – you want your mantle to be slightly angled backwards so that things would be more likely to roll towards the wall than off the front of the mantle.
Once the mantle was on the brackets, we decided to add a bit more flair. On the ends, we decided to still use turnbuckles. They hold a bit of the load and act as visual book ends for the mantle. These were also spray painted black. We put eye hooks into the wall and the mantle and installed the turnbuckles between the two and tightened until the turnbuckles were holding some of the weight of the mantle.
(Brian wrote this next part, but he had me cracking up reading it, so I couldn’t leave it out) …As Mike and Brian were finishing up the project, I couldn’t help but start decorating the mantle. I have waited so long to have one, I just couldn’t wait. Over their protests, I started decorating. I was losing my s***! I needed this mantle to have backwards books and fake flowers and pumpkins on it STAT. Once I had the mantle decorated, I was so hot for my husband. I had to have him…but that is a topic for another blog post. 😊
Hope you enjoyed this guest post from Brian. Maybe there will be more to come in the future!