Monday, September 22, 2014

Living Room Progress- How to Install a Barn Beam Mantle

barn Beam Mantle

Hey all!  I hope you woke up today feeling refreshed for the new week!  I’m super excited to show you some major progress in our living room today.  LC bought me this gorgeous barn beam mantle for Christmas – and then it sat in our garage for, oh, 8 months before we finally got it hung over our fireplace.  And before we get into all of the 5,326 photos I have to share with you today, let me mention that this fireplace area is a work in progress.  Hanging this mantle was the first step, but we still need to trim out around the gas insert, and add a surround.  So keep that in mind.  I debated on whether to show it on the blog in this state, but hey, I am all about keeping it real here at SPP!  So, this is where we are with things. 

I decorated this mantle back in August, so it has a I don’t know how the hell to decorate a mantle late summer vibe, and I decorated my living room for fall over the weekend, so I thought I had better share this now, because it already looks different and you will be seeing my fall living room soon!


We bought this mantle off of a man in Uniontown, PA.  He tears down old barns and makes things like this for people.  I found him on Craigslist.  And if you live in the vicinity and would like his contact information, you can send me a private email and I will get it to you. 


I wanted something rustic, old, and natural to put over this fireplace.  And this mantle is exactly what I envisioned!  I talked to this man on the phone and exchanged several emails with him when we ordered the mantle.  I gave him my measurements (exact dimensions of what I wanted the mantle to be), and I asked him to attach the corbels.  I sent him several pictures to use as examples for what I wanted the corbels to look like.  I also asked him to leave the mantle unfinished.  The only thing he did was sand it down nice and smooth on the top. 


I wanted to maintain the natural look of this mantle, so after it arrived I did only two things to it.  First I wiped it down good with Crown Low Odor Mineral Spirits, using a rag that does not shed.  That cleaned it.  After that was all dry, I wiped it down with three coats of Formby’s Tung Oil in a low gloss finish, again using a rag that does not shed. This deepened the richness of the wood, but did not change the color at all.  It just brought out the beauty in the wood.  I wore latex gloves during the application of both the mineral spirits and the tung oil.  Safety First people!


I love the rustic look of this mantle.  It has so much character, which was exactly what this sad fireplace was lacking.  This mantle is like the gorgeous well groomed eyebrows on a girl who once had a terrible unibrow.  Even in the unfinished state of this fireplace area, the mantle did a world of good. 


This 1996 split level house does not have a lot of character, and a mantle with character is exactly what I wanted.  If this one doesn’t have it, nothing does!  This old beam is over 100 years old.  I imagine if it could talk, it would have a thousand stories to tell. 


This old rusty piece of metal is something my husband brought home to me from Charleston, SC last fall.  He was at an antique store looking for something to bring home for me (this man knows my heart), and the owner just threw this in.  It has just been lying around waiting for a home, and I threw it up here and thought it fit.  The little bird came from Homegoods.  And the The candle holder has been in our house for too many years to count.  I just keep moving it around.  And the picture is one of Miss 18 Year Old’s senior pictures.  If you live in the area and would like the name of the photographer, I will gladly provide it, she did an amazing job.  This picture is mounted on a piece of foam board, and it needs framed.  But I haven’t gotten around to that yet, so for now,I just propped it up.  I am not sure what frame I will choose yet or where the photograph’s permanent home will be. 



I think a stack of books always adds interest to a vignette, don’t you?  Plus, it is a good way to vary the heights of the things you are displaying.  The cup and saucer were the only two pieces of china that I received when I got married back in 1992.  I registered for the whole set, and I received this cup and saucer, HA!  I would still love to have the whole set, but I doubt I ever will.  It is Mikasa china, and the pattern is antique lace.  It is classic, neutral, and gorgeous.  It is discontinued, but still available on EBay.  and if anyone ever wanted to buy me a really special gift (hint hint LC), an 8 piece place setting of this stuff would be awesome!


Do you remember this lantern that I finished for Miss 18 Year Old’s graduation party?  I put a faux succulent plant in it and threw it up here.  It is the perfect size for this mantle.  I left this lantern outside on the deck for a couple of weeks, but brought it in because the weather was taking it’s toll on it.  But that couple of weeks of being in the elements added a nice patina to the whole thing.  Notice the rusty hinge that you open and close it with. 



The reason this mantle sat in the garage for 8 months was because we had no idea how to mount it.  First of all, I am planning to take it with me when we move out of this house (this is not our forever home).  So, the way we mounted it could not be permanent.  Second, it is extremely heavy, over 100 pounds.  So it is a beast.  You can see how we did it in the picture below.  Is it ideal?  No.  Is it stable and secure, yes.  We needed to make damn sure this thing would not fall down, because it could literally kill Mr. 6 Year old if it fell on him.  We ended up removing a big square of drywall over this fireplace, and adding some nice heavy wood supports behind because there weren’t enough studs.  We attached the wood supports to the studs.  Then we replaced the drywall and refinished it (except for paint, because I am planning to add a fireplace surround). 

After we got the drywall back up, we used these metal brackets to mount it.  They are screwed into both the wood supports and the mantle.  My plan at this point is to paint them to match the color of the mantle as much as possible, and then I may add a small piece of trim (that can be removed) right under the mantle to kind of hide these.  If I do that I will try my best to stain or finish the trim so that it matches the color of the mantle as much as possible.  I really haven’t settled on exactly what I am going to do to hide these brackets, and any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.  Just leave me any tips or tricks you have in mind in the comments.  By using these brackets, we can easily remove this beam and take it with us when we move.  (We plan to remove it and replace it with something else before we ever put the house up for sale).


Here is what the gas insert looks like.  I plan on painting the whole thing a fresh coat of black, plus taking everything out, cleaning the logs, and adding some fresh new embers and stuff.  I am going to trim around it with some old wood from a fence the neighbors tore down.  we asked them if we could have it when we saw them tearing it down, so it is sitting out back.  I have some other plans for that wood too, if I can ever get around to it!


What kind of surround will we install, you ask?  Have you ever heard of Airstone?  If not, you can see some pictures of it here and here.   Well I am planning to purchase the Airstone and apply it from right under the mantle down to the base board.  And I just want to make a small mention that I attempted to contact Airstone to partner with them on this project three different times and got absolutely no response.  Great job, Airstone! Just sayin…  I am hoping to have this project finished in time to decorate for Christmas. 


Here is a picture of my fireplace last fall, and you can click here if you would like to read the entire post.


I think this mantle adds so much character to our entire living room, and I cannot wait to decorate it year round!

In case you are wondering, I purchased this Turkish Kilim Pillow from this seller on EBay, and they have a great selection of Turkish Kilim items!  And come to think of it, LC also purchased the vintage suitcase on EBay.  The faux sheepskin on the chair is from Ikea.  The Paris basket is from Marshall’s.  I found that chair at our local Goodwill, and you can read more about it here.


Update:  Click here to see my Fall Mantel.

Stay tuned for the final reveal on this fireplace, and I will also post a tutorial all about the installation of the Airstone.  Once this fireplace is completely finished, this room will be well on its way.  This is the most dramatic change that we will be making to change this room.  The rest is just paint (and hopefully some new furniture but that is way down the road).
Have a great week! 

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