Upgrade Your Builder Mantel {easy}

The fireplace is a huge focal point in our house.
I want it to look beautiful.
(even with the TV sitting above)

This was the mantel shelf….BEFORE!
And now!
I built a 5 sided box from pine –
With these supplies:
1 – 2x8x8 rough pine for the top
1 – 1x6x8 for the front and sides
1 – 1x4x8 for the bottom
2 – Pine Corbels
Six metal corner brackets for 58 cents to 79 cents each
Liquid nails, 3/4 inch screws, drill, nails and a hammer.
I like to use my nail gun and air compressor but you can use a hammer and nails.
My existing mantel shelf measures 6 feet long and 6 inches deep so I purchased longer/wider wood for more display space. Cut the wood length down to size so it fits pretty snug to your existing shelf. Attach all the wood with the metal brackets and liquid nails.
I made mine to fit tightly over the shelf so I can remove it later. We are renting this house so I didn’t think I should do anything permanent. If you want yours to be permanent then it would be easier to glue and nail the wood right on to your existing mantel.
Once the box was made I distressed it with the items above.
I then brought it into the house and set it in place.
To make the wood look more “knotty” I followed some of the wood grain with a tiny brush & black paint first. Before it dried completely I wiped it with a paper towel.
I attached the corbels with my nail gun using only one nail going into the wall and two into the shelf itself. The weight of the new mantel keeps it resting on the existing mantel underneath. This is only because mine is a temporary piece. If yours is going to stay then use more nails and glue to attach it securely.
Then I used a sponge brush to apply dark walnut stain.
Here you can see the black paint effect and the way I really beat up the wood.
Took me less than two hours.
The 2×8 is a chunky top that gives me plenty of room to display holiday decor around the built in TV.
The remotes can still communicate with the the electronics on the shelves.
The new shelf adds a {custom ~ rustic} accent to an otherwise
plain white builder mantel.
All for about $40…..WOW!
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] the mantel there are a few garlands to create a layered look. If you want to see how the wooden bead garland […]

Nancy Davis

Hey there! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about how to upgrade a builder a mantel. I love how it easily done and what a great transformation it is.NancyWindow Planet for Superior Quality Windows and Doors in Toronto


I was wondering how you built the built in's, where your DVR and DVD box go over the fireplace? Is that a real fireplace? We have a wood burning fireplace and want to mount our TV over the fireplace too but we don't want to crowd our mantel with our DVD and our DVR. We love the look of our house by the way, we just bought our 1st home and have used almost all of the same paint colors as you. Thanks for all your tips and tricks.

Linda@Coastal Charm

Holly, This is one charming DIY project, and it looks so good in your beautiful home.Blessings,Linda

Christina at I Gotta Create!

Featuring you on the blog and on Facebook!http://igottacreate.blogspot.com/2012/11/wildly-original-party-features.htmlThanks so much for linking up!<3 Christina


Love what you have done, just beautiful!


That looks great Holly! I'm pinning this for my daughter-in-laws fireplace mantel. Enjoy your weekend, Gail


WOW!! I love it 🙂

Cozy Little House

It looks fantastic!Brenda

Michele Alger

You did a wonderful job! I love the rustic mantel look. I'm in the process of making a mantel for my kitchen fireplace. So excited! Where do you pick up your iron accents? You use them everywhere and they are so stylish!??


Holly I absolutely positively LOVE this project!! It looks fabulous! Thanx for sharing at THT! Hope your week is going well.


Love your new mantel! and I love your TV insert-Shutters, great idea!


Perfect and warm for this time of year.Bliss


This is brilliant! I love the new look and the decorations. We have almost the same mantel so I may use this as inspiration for a makeover. 🙂 I like that it's not permenant either. Thanks for sharing!

Shirley@Housepitality Designs

You took that mantel from pretty to breathtaking!!!…You did an amazing job…Loved how you decorated it too!!…


I love the new mantel and I think what you did around the TV is a fantastic job.

Kelly Teaching Fourth

This is beautiful! What a good idea!

Ana Lopes

So Beautiful!! Love your decoration and your excellent idea to the TV placing! Thanks so much for sharing the great tutorial! I'd love for you to visit my blog. Happy week!Hugs from Portugal,Ana Love Craftwww.lovecraft2012.blogspot.com

Shabby chic Sandy

Love it! Really love what you did around the TV. Did you post about that at some time? The whole thing together just looks amazing!


What an amazing mantle transformation! Always wanted to have a TV above my fireplace. Your's really blends in well. Thanks for all your how-to's! xo Pam


I love your blog. I recently saw some old window in my neighbors trash. I remember looking at your blog and ask if I could have it he told me it was 100 years old. I love it. I thank you for the ideas you give. I love your mantle too.


Love it! U did this all by yourself?? Awesome!

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting

WOW that looks beautiful!! Great job!

Leslie Harris

Holly this looks wonderful. I'm so impressed with your fearlessness. Why am I so chicken to work with wood and real tools? You give me courage.Leslie (aka Gwen Moss)

Coastal Cottage Dreams

This looks lovely, something that I should think about.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper

i LOVE this mantel! it is rustic and amazing and so much more you! 🙂


That is just beautiful!!!


Great re-do! With your other pieces of furniture in the room having that stained finish, your mantel now blends in better. That was a great idea. I love your scattered tea lights on it too.