Assembling a mantle

We’re great big Christmas dorks, readers, and nothing makes us giddier than thinking about hanging stockings on a mantle.  In our living room, we had a big ol’ empty wall after moving our TV downstairs, and it was itching for a mantle.

Here is how we were cleverly arranging the room to hide the fact that it was missing some furniture:

Big empty wall, cleverly disguised by chair

The green chair was placed smack dab in the middle of a big open wall, with no purpose.  The room looked sparse, and silly, and like an abandoned and unloved room.

Adding a mantle has been on our list of things to do since day one, and it was just a matter of finding something that would suit our space.  Dan had been eying the DIY options from Home Depot that weren’t super expensive, and that allowed you to adjust the position of the legs.  On this stretch of wall where the TV was, we have an electrical outlet and an air return grate to work around.

We took the plunge one day, kind of on a whim, and bought a mantle piece that is meant to sit on a wall on its own, without legs:

Elements - Montego 60 Inch Transitional Mantel Shelf in Gloss White - M700-60-WT - Home Depot Canada
This is Montego from Home Depot, a 60″ beauty.  We chose this one because it is flat across the bottom, which would allow us to move the mantle legs to any place along the edge, and was the one of the smaller options width-wise.

And then we bought a pair of mantle legs, these to be exact:

Elements - Oxford Mantel Legs CARB compliant MDF, White - Set of 2 - M400-64LEG-WT - Home Depot Canada
These are Oxford mantle legs, meant to go with the Oxford mantle.  We ignored that part.

All of the mantles from Home Depot are essentially the same, you secure a wooden piece to the wall, through at least two studs, and then “hang” the mantle on the wooden piece.  Attach the legs to the mantle piece and you’re done!

And here is the reality of that process.

I unwrapped all the pieces, and placed the two legs against the wall to see what we thought of the spacing.  Remember, we’re trying to work around an outlet and a air return grate, without making it look obvious and ugly.

DSC04072Dan confirmed that the placement was acceptable, and I went ahead with searching for the studs.  The stud finder we bought after the great kitchen shelf debacle really came in handy.

Studs marked, ready to roll!
Finding the studsWhat happened next was less than ideal.  Dan drilled the first of the holes into the drywall, to make way for the screws.  The screws that came with the mantle mounting kit were really long.  Like, REALLY long.  I think it was a combination of the drill bit not being long enough, and also not using a wide enough drill bit size, but either way, the very long wood screw could go no further with about 3/4″ still sticking out the wall.  And then Dan’s hulk strength took it past the point of no return, and it snapped off in the wall.  You may recall that this happened to us with the fence we tried to install over the concrete driveway.  It was a shame spiral from here on out, readers.  All the flashbacks of being incompetent DIYers came back to us, and we felt defeated before we even had the first screw in the wall.  My happy go lucky attitude came out in full force though, and we cut off the broken screw part as best we could, and Dan smacked it into the wall, where it will never be seen again.

We decided to switch to shorter screws and keep trucking, and we were fine for the rest of the project.  We screwed the wooden support to the stud in four places, to be extra secure, then hung the mantle on the wall.

It was floating about 1/2″ higher than it should have been, and it didn’t touch the tops of the legs when we place them under the mantle.  D’oh.  The instructions told you to put the mantle on the wall (and we had it sitting on the legs to measure the exact height off the ground) and mark it, then mark the holes for drilling 5cm down from the line.  I did that.  It ended up 1/2″ too high.  LAME.

It was annoying, but quick and painless to do it again.  We removed the wooden support and drilled new holes 1/2″ lower, and re-screwed it to the wall.  This time, success!  We place the legs under the mantle and marked where they would sit, then took everything off the wall and secured the legs to the mantle top with screws.  The whole assembly gets hung on the wall support, and that’s it.  When we stepped back, we realized the left leg wasn’t quite touching the floor, so we smacked a few shims under it to take the pressure off the wall support, and you can’t even notice.

Working around obstaclesWe avoided blocking the grate entirely, and the plug is fine where it is, I guess.  We want to wall-mount our TV above the mantle eventually, once we buy and even bigger and better TV for the basement, so the plug is kind of necessary.

We’re debating about what to do with the wall space inside the mantle.  Some ideas include wall papering, adding a textured wall paper and painting it the same colour as the wall, painting it with chalkboard paint and drawing in our own “fire”, or buying a fireplace screen to make it look somewhat believable as a fireplace.

DONE! Oscar is transfixedAnd I had to take one more picture in the daylight, once I threw a few quick decorations up there.  Now it looks like it belongs in the living room, and our new mantle is eagerly awaiting some Christmas decorations.

Mantle in the daylight


About joeyandjanice

Two crazy kids trying to make sense of the jumble surrounding making the jump from renting to owning our first home. Join us here as we stumble towards the biggest purchase of our lives.
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