Several years ago (about 12) the store I worked at had a garage sale for charity. The items? Old visual props and furniture! Talk about treasures! Being on the visual staff, I had prime choice of the booty. I scored a HUGE antique dining table (with one leaf intact), four Queen Anne dining chairs with leopard print cushions (applied for a Safari display) a seagrass club chair (used in the Ralph Lauren Home display), a 5 1/2’ floor standing candelabra (from a Jr’s prom set up), an old steamer trunk, and THIS: A FAUX fireplace mantle! In…somewhat rough shape. I have always wanted a fireplace in my home and since my landlord wasn’t making any moves to install one, this was the next best thing. Sure it was missing most of the top moulding (the white is actually where I had pieced on the new moulding and then realized I had forgotten to take a “before” picture, again), a piece had been ripped off the front bottom corner…. and it was gloss black, but nobody’s perfect! And I had a vision (one apparently not shared by the friend who hauled this home for me who offered to drop it off at the nearest dumpster). I worked a little faux magic on it and it looked downright spiffy. all cultured and sophisticated! (you clean up nice!) I played the “suspension of disbelief” card when I created the fire place opening by framing out a smaller section in the middle and using marble print contact paper as the surround. (I have since learned how to paint faux marble but at the time I thought I was pretty clever). There was no opening, just a section of the original gloss black. This is how it looked:

I had to use a picture closest to the completion date due to the fact I forgot to take an “after” picture, too.(OMG such an old pic!) I had scored a mirror for cheap at a local home decor discount store that was originally silver and I painted it to resemble faded gold leafing, although the picture above tells a different story for some reason. So that was the first transformation. It has lived through 11 Christmases and Halloweens and has made me happy and my living room complete. Until I painted the wall. Suddenly the aged finish appeared a little more orange than burnt umber and actually the contact paper had started to un-adhere itself years ago, and was now being supported by unseen duct tape! WIth my new found ambition to switch things up (click here for the reason), the mantle and the mirror seemed like the perfect place to start, since it makes a huge impact on my whole interior space. Backing up, I have always loved glass tile and wished there were some way I could use it, being unable to remodel the kitchen or bathroom. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be a great surround on the mantle? YES!! And if I’m adding tile, I might as well re-paint the whole thing in a wall friendly color. And while there, couldn’t the mirror look a little more current? Yes, again! And I even have a “before” picture!:

And what does it look like now? Drum roll please……

So, whaddya’ think? I love the way it came out. It is bright white right now but I’m on the fence about aging it down (just a little, like in the crevasses to highlight the moulding, maybe with the same gray as I used on the mirror). I’m gonna’ try accessorizing it and then see if it’s still too stark for me. It’s growing on me, though, and it would make it easier to incorporate some more glitzy-glam accessories. You know, for texture. I especially love how the mirror finish came out. I was channeling a mirror frame I saw at work and I think it is pretty close. Next project? Some artwork! (just look at that bare wall in the reflection!) OK, Poll: To glaze or not to glaze.. the mantle, what do you think?

UPDATE:

Here is the final result once accessorized. I still love the new white fireplace and have been able to incorporate new ideas into my holiday and everyday accessory displays because of it such as…

and…

and…

It’s been almost a year since I refinished my mantle. I now have my January ‘Coffee House’ decor up which is what gets me through ‘til I feel like looking at Spring things. Of course I haven’t taken a picture of that yet. I may post it next year.

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