new plans for the mantel

by | Nov 21, 2023 | 1970 home renovation, Decorating, Living Room, My House, Room Makeovers | 30 comments

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I shared early in the fall that I found an antique mantel removed from a local home built circa 1810.  I was so excited about bringing that piece of history into our house.  Overall the measurements seemed like they were going to work, but after we got it home and inspected it more carefully, we realized that it would need more than the few tweaks I initially thought.  I was pretty bummed, but Jeff and I were sort of excited at the idea of designing and building our own mantel.  So, I sold the antique one on Facebook Marketplace and started looking for some inspiration.

This is mantel option number one and the one I looked at initially when I searched for inspiration about a year ago.  I liked the uniqueness of the curve above the firebox and I felt like the simplicity of it would work nicely in our living room.  There would be some challenges to making a mantel designed after this one, though, and Jeff wasn’t as fond of the curved detail as I was.

Photo via Becca Interiors

This was mantel number two on our list of options.  I knew it would be an easy build and would also work with the style of our home.  The trick would be finding moldings that would be worth featuring so prominently.  I also wasn’t sure if the scale would work right with the space we had to work with.  But, I loved the classic design of this one.

Country Living Mantel Inspiration

Photo via Country Living

Mantel option number three was one that involved building boxes to give the mantle a bit more depth and prominence.  I liked the idea that it would be “chunky” and we wouldn’t have to rely so heavily on stacking wood boards to create thickness and building up molding to give the mantel structure and support the shelf.

Country Living Mantel Inspiration

Photo via Country Living

I drew out some initial ideas and dimensions and we went to Lowes to see what was available that would work for one of these designs or perhaps a hybrid.  We made some selections, buying a little extra to give ourselves some options, and then when we got home and removed the mantel, we realized that the plans we carefully made laying out boards and trim on the floor of the lumber aisle wouldn’t work.  Instead of the floating mantel shelf being attached to a piece of timber that was screwed into the wall, it was supported by 2 x 4s that were built into the brick. Unless we wanted to cut them off, we needed to change plans and go in a different direction.

1970 home renovation | building a mantel

The funny thing about all of the planning and Lowes trips is that I thought this was a small project that would be done by lunchtime.  That’s how off my protect time-frame estimations typically are and I should just add a day or two to all of my estimations!  We ended up grabbing sandwiches on our second run and we were definitely not done by lunchtime!

Anyway, the new mantel build is underway and I’ll share how we did it in another post.  Which design do you think we went with?  One, two, or three?


  1. Sharon

    I LOVE number one!!!

  2. Pamela Strain

    I predict #1. It looks like your taste, Marian.

    • kim price

      Its gonna be great no matter what you chose. Can’t wait to see it !

  3. Patricia Kasparian

    #1 is my personal favorite, so I’ll choose that as a guess.

    • Karen

      I’ll guess #2 as it’s my favorite.

  4. Susan

    I like the classic simplicity of #2. Whatever you choose will look great!

  5. Monica

    I’m guessing #2 modified to attach to the existing 2x4s.

  6. Barbara Cuevas

    I love #1 as well. But #2 is just as beautiful. I know you will choose what is best – or even a hybrid of your selections.

  7. Barbara Cuevas

    Can I just say that I love you posting updates and plans and ideas for your renovations. It inspires me and I get a feel for what you are doing and how it will look when you show us plans. I get so much joy when I see your vision and then how you are going to execute it. You do such a wonderful job. Being a HGTV geek, you lay it all out just as well as they do, you just do it in a blog. And, quite frankly, the blog format allows me to see what you are doing on my time – rather than waiting for a favorite show to air. In my book – you have got them beat (HGTV)!

    As far as other blogs I follow, I do follow LIz Marie Galvin, however, she is so difficult to “follow”. Her house is so beautiful, along with the property.
    What they have done so far is really nice. But she is all over the place – she rambles on and on when she speaks, no clear cut plans for the renovations and it often looks like such a hot mess – especially for one who touts that she is a trained interior designer.

    And, I like ChrislovesJulia blog. They too have a beautiful home and they are such visionaries – it is fun to see where they are going and what they are doing.

    So, bottom line – please keep up what you are doing. You are such a talent in many ways and we need to keep seeing real people, in real time accomplishing such wonderful renos, home projects and ideas that you bring to the table.

    Thanks so much for bringing light into my daily routine.

    • LJ Jasper

      Just a thought… perhaps rather than calling out another designer by name who you have trouble following and offering criticism, you could politely say, “Some designers are difficult to follow so I appreciate how you show the steps of your process” and leave it at that. ” The online community would be a much kinder place without unsolicited criticism of those who inspire others but do not inspire us.


        The other side is that I may find a new blogger I enjoy following. My opinion of them maybe different.

      • Barbara Cuevas

        Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I really do appreciate that. I do welcome other opinions and outlooks. It is important to be self-aware.

        I can see and understand what you are saying. However, this is an opinion – just an honest opinion. Nothing more.

        • JC

          Any one of these would look great! Hmmmm, #3?

  8. Marcie

    Whichever one you choose, I sincerely hope you can utilize the blocks! It’s a great way to attach the surround to the brick for stability! You could fabricate a box mantel on any of the designs and it wouldn’t change the look much at all. Good luck with this…I know it will be gorgeous!

  9. beverlee

    Whatever you choose, it will be perfect. You have never made a mistake when it comes to design. I am thinking a ‘Marian’ redesigned #1 with #3 properties. but I love #2

  10. Debbie

    I hope 1. That curve might be difficult with hand held tools, but a cabinet shop could whip that out in five minutes in bandsaw. Some small shop might do it on the spot for twenty dollars. I’ve had good luck with that sort of situation in the past. Good luck!

  11. Barbara

    I’m with Jeff about #1…that curved part just isn’t doing it for me. I do not like #3 at all. I love the second one; to me it is classic and a style that is timeless. You just can’t go wrong with that design.

  12. Kim

    I am really hoping that you are doing #1, but I would guess that it is going to be #2.

  13. LR

    Either 2 or 3. Can’t remember if you’re planning to paint or stain the mantle. As others have said regardless it will look beautiful!
    Happy Thanksgiving 🍁🦃

  14. Deb

    I’d guess number 2. I like it, as it has presence but isn’t over powering. I do think I’d be very hard to replicate. Hubby worked in the finish lumber building of a local lumberyard for 22 years and I can’t tell you how many mantles he helped people design using different moldings etc. Most can be copied. Good luck looking forward to seeing what you’ve chosen.🍁🦃🍂

  15. Cathy Zuehlke

    I hope #2, it’s gorgeous!

    • Nina

      I love number 3. It’s the most rustic of the mantels. But I think you’ll choose #2. It’s the most streamlined and simple of the choices. The simple choice often ends up being the most classic and longest-lasting. Good luck with the mantel you pick. Whatever you decide, it’s always fun seeing why you choose a piece and how you make it work in the space.

  16. Betty Sparrow

    I like #1. It just needs to be deep enough to be able to be able to stagger things,

  17. Arlene

    I’m thinking you chose #1, as I saw a curvy board cut out when you said you were late with your blog post. Whichever one it is, I can’t wait to see it! If only you knew how much enjoyment you put out🥰

  18. Debbie Pingitore


  19. Sharon

    It will be perfect, whatever you decide. I am with you. I would love No.1. The curve is so beautiful and so unique. But I can see my husband might not agree. Would love to replace my mantle. Humm. Thanks so much for showing us options you have picked. I cannot wait to see this room. Such huge changes. Your style in this house is so fun to see. I absolutely love your kitchen. I know I will love this room too. Thank you for your inspiration.!

  20. Michele M.

    Oh how I wish you could do that curved one! That one is so unique and beautiful. But, per usual, your efforts will be great.
    And to be honest – it probably wouldn’t cost that much to advertise on FB for a decent woodworker with a great jigsaw to cut that piece out for you and get the mantle of your dreams.

    Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season coming up, Marian.

  21. Kristine

    I’m going with #2 – it’s timeless and classic. But more importantly, it “supports” the room, meaning it doesn’t yell “look at me” (the way the first one does). Rather, it’s complementary to the rest of the room, allowing for whatever you put ON TOP of the mantel to really shine and be the star of the room. The 3rd option just IMHO doesn’t really look like you. I am totally entitled to my opinion; I’ve been following you for, oh, I don’t know, 10 or 11 years!

  22. Jeanna Stipes

    Im sure you are done by now- but if turkey coma set in and its delayed- Im 1 for style but 3 as the compromise. I think the chunky mantle can be done by adding 2×4 legs under the outside wood projections then a bracer bar that runs from 1to3 but supports number 2. Then you can build out any style , have your support etc. It’s all covered up by the pretty moulding and the box in photo 3. That’s my guess… I will eat more pie while you work.

  23. Cheryl

    I love the curvy one, but they are all great. I’m guessing #2. I’m actually in the same process of trying to design a replacement mantel,so I know how tricky this can be. I can’t wait to see your new design!


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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