DIY Fireplace Mantle Shelf

Our living room has been one of those problem spaces for us. It actually has a lot of ceiling height, which we LOVE, but the a-frame ceiling left us stumped on how to decorate it without cluttering it. It’s kinda the room where we opted for comfort over style. I remember going to numerous furniture stores looking for couches, and the sales people (who really should have just learned to leave picky me alone) were so frustrated because they couldn’t get me to buy a normal khaki colored couch, which they said “goes with everything!”

Hmmmm…. but I wanted a tufted white couch. But being couchless, we finally found a great sectional that is more of a pewter gray. It’s not my one true love couch, but it does the job, and is super comfy.

We ended up using the bookshelf that we made to go along with my desk (plans here) as our console. The arched ceiling is awesome, because it makes the room feel huge, but I didn’t want to hang any photos on the wall… no matter how I put it together in my mind, it just didn’t work for the room.

We LOVE white & our style is a little more minimalistic, so I didn’t just want to put anything up there.

We joked that if we where going to live here longer, that we would actually build a fireplace.

One day I decided to just go for it and make either a mantel shelf or faux fireplace. I mean, if we didn’t like it, we could always take it all down.

Here is a photo of what it looked like before this project.

I didn’t want to get rid of the bookshelf, becuase it is so functional for us, and I didn’t want to have to mount our huge tv on a fireplace mantel, so I was rooting for the shelf mantel idea.

I grabbed a bunch of scrap wood from our stash and went at it. Disclaimer: this was one of those projects where there most likely ARE more efficient ways and methods to go about it (insert carpenter laughing at me – I just decided to go for it on my own, inevitable mistakes and all.

Good thing my style is rustic! Haha!

So the first thing I did was add some 2×3 blocks of wood to both of the sides of the main shelf board (so screw them onto the back of the board that will be facing out towards the room), and I screwed them in with an allowance for where the sides would be flush.

I think the shelf board was a 1×7 board. The whole shelf is 6 feet long.

Next I added the sides.

I screwed them in.

Next I added the top shelf part. This is the part of the shelf where your decor will sit on.

Now here is where I made the most obvious mistake- I added some 2×2 boards as a ledge for simple molding, and I cut the pieces flush with the sides of the rest of the shelf. I should have left an allowance for the boards to overlap the ones that go on the side. Whoops. (See step below for more info)


What was I thinking?

But it was scrap wood, and I didn’t have any more wood to redo the cuts… so I just kept going, while picturing my husband laughing at me (which I knew would happen)

So here is what the shelf looked like once I added the rest of the, errr, “molding”?

Here’s the whole naked inside of the shelf laying down on my kitchen floor. You can kind of see where we added a simple bottom to enclose the shelf.

I ended up painting and distressing the heck out of it (which is more my area of expertise than assembling and cutting wood)

Then I enlisted the help of my husband to get an idea of where to hang it.

Just kidding. It was really just an excuse to take pictures of him lifting things for me. Haha!

So through trial and error, we found the studs in the wall and marked where they where. Then we used a level and put a 2×3 board up on the wall. I have to say, we have the weirdest walls… we can never find a stud with the traditional methods… so we usually have to take a nail and tap until we hit one. So annoying! Anyway, We had cut this board to fit snugly inside the mantel shelf… that way we could just slide it over and screw it in. I think we found a good 4 studs. We made sure to use like 4 inch screws to get a really good strong connection with the studs.

We (ahem, I’m sure you all can see who was doing the work and who was just taking pictures at this point) screwed the shelf onto the 2×3 along the top, and on the sides. This baby is going nowhere!

And I fell in love with it right away.

Its been a couple months, and I have since rearranged a few things, and added some of my own DIY frames and artwork (yes- I really went for the grunge, chippy paint look to match the shelf!)

I actually ended up liking how the rough molding mishap turned out. A little wood-filler and paint made it look so much better!

I really wanted the art to be subtle to match the rest of our house. So white on white with some hints of chippy paint, and meaningful wording like “We Lived Happily Ever After” was perfect for us.

So I hope you learned how not to build a shelf. Haha! Just kidding. I really actually love it. I am kind of proud of my first build (yes- I totally did this behind my husbands back one Saturday… normally I just tell him what to build me… and sometimes I help)

In the end, this shelf really just reflects my style. So I love it!!!

Off to start new projects.

Thanks everyone XO

thank you for stopping by!

  1. Afloat On A Full Sea

    August 17th, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Oh my goodness, you are so handy! And I love how rustic, yet minimal it is. All the white with those blue vases make everything POP.
    Glad to have found your blog 🙂
    Danielle @ afloat on a full sea

  2. Lucy Cairns

    August 17th, 2016 at 10:57 am

    This is gorgeous! And such a good idea. I love that the mishap ended up being such a lovely quirk – I tend to love things like this most because you know it's yours with all the imperfections.

    Anyway, I digress, but I loved this post and will definitely be trying this x

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