But while it existed, the fireplace was a little bit lacking in the looks department.
My shoddy housekeeping skills didn't really help the situation either.
One of the things that bugged me was the mantel--which consisted of two goofy little stone outcroppings that weren't big enough to put anything on. In our previous home we had four (nonfunctioning) fireplaces with mantels, and I often used them as a "stuff the toddlers aren't supposed to touch" storage space.
As a stop-gap solution we spanned the large gap between the outcroppings with a piece of plywood. My, that's attractive.
The room itself is pretty dark, as it only has the one window and that window is overshadowed by our back porch, so at some point I painted the backs of the built-ins (it's fake paneling, so I didn't feel bad) a cream color to try to brighten things up.
After pondering mantel solutions for a while, I decided that we should build a three-sided box that would slip over the outcroppings to make a floating mantel. I typically don't like to remove original features of houses, so the fact that this would be easily removable was a big plus! Also I imagine Joanna Gaines would approve.
Our local Habitat ReStore carries wood planks milled from local trees, so Nemo picked up some white oak for about $50 and he and his dad got to work building the box/mantel. From what I understand there was a significant amount of planing and sanding done to get a nice smooth surface.
Doing a dry fit. It fits!
Then I got to use my handy-dandy new paint sprayer to apply the stain and polyurethane. It made the job so quick and easy I almost cried.
As soon as it was dry Nemo installed it and I ran out to the store for some decorations because CHRISTMAS.
I decided a while ago that there needed to be a mirror over the mantel in order to make the room brighter, and I ended up getting this one from HomeGoods for $35--more than I wanted to spend but I wasn't able to find one at a thrift store. The candles were free, though, since I already had them!
I love small(ish) projects that make a huge difference in how the room looks!
Now we actually have a place to hang our stockings...guess I had better go find them.