Thursday, July 15, 2010

Foyer Mantel

     Okay, I'm bad.  I have a problem.  It's my birthday in a week and being the good woman that I am, I found my own birthday gift and saved my husband a lot of time and stress (I do this every year!) Do I want a diamond ring? A trip to the day spa? No, I want a mantel.  Yup. Decorator through and through. Our house is wonderful and has so many things we like about it. One very minor complaint, is no mantel.  Not a big thing, but I really missed having a place to decorate with the holidays or just change up because I'm ready for a change but don't want any big decorating project.

To Craigslist I went for the last few months and voila, I found her.  A quick drive 20 minutes away + $40 later = my birthday present. 
I did a quick sand with my little mouse sander and then my daughter and I set to painting her.  I already had paint leftover from painting all the new doors in our house. I wanted it to blend in a bit on the wall and not feel like it was this massive thing ready to fall down on you.
After three coats and 24 hours of drying, I took the mouse sander again and roughed up the edges to really make those layers of molding stand out.

With no fireplace, I obviously had to find a place for this lovely mantel.  No fear, I've had the pefect spot in mind for a long time: my foyer.  It's a fairly large, two-story entry with a large wall.  My previous attempts of slapping up two large pieces of artwork never really felt right.  Six years later of decorating the rest of the house, I finally am getting around to the foyer again.
We made a wood cleat to anchor this heavy baby to the studs. Then I did a quick shop around the house for some accessories and put this together for now:

I fell in love with that little framed print of the bird when I saw it at Goodwill. $4 and she was mine!  Look at the lovely mat and the inked decorative border.  Everything else came from garage sales (including the $40 chandelier and $20 pottery barn rug!)
I feel like this mantle is something substantial to finally help balance out that huge wall.  I wanted it's color to be light enough to match the doors in the adjoining hallway and also keep it from feeling like its about to fall and bop you on the head as you come in.
I know most people don't like having shoes in the foyer, but our coat closet is way too small, around the corner, and let's keep it real-with six kids and two adults, the shoes multiply while you aren't looking and they all end up by the door.  I'm just so thrilled that they're trained to take their shoes off and save my carpets that I'll put up with shoes in the foyer.  I found this cute old shelf in upstate NY and it's been a perfect little shoe shelf.  The rest of the shoes go just inside the garage.

I'm a very happy Birthday girl and will be able to satisfy my decorating cravings with this mantel. I promise not to decorate for Christmas in August like all the stores do!!!

For a little touch of welcome, I printed out this Irish Saying that means "a hundred thousand welcomes" and literally cut out each letter and glue sticked it up!  Hey, I'm frugal and really didn't want to pay for a vinyl version! It's been up almost 3 years and no problems yet.

And here's how the mantle looked for a few different seasons:

Internet Inspirations:

Here are some beautiful images of mantels in places other than over the fireplace.

As a headboard.

(by Molly Frey)
As an accent shelf. Love the corbels on it.

(a fanciful twist)
A headboard again.

(coastal living)
Love the lamps with the headboard.

(curious sofa)
I love how a mirror was placed in the fire-insert area and then hung high.

Beautiful chippy-old mantel (maybe check the paint for lead?!)

(willow decor)
I love how this acts almost as a buffet table in a small-spaced dining room.

Aren't those mantel-like shelves in the kitchen gorgeous?! (This kitchen re-do is amazing if you want to check out the blog.)

Have you done something unique with a mantel? Seen any fun ideas? Share them with me if you have, I'd love more ideas.

I'm participating In:


  1. Cute! Like how you distressed it and I think shoes in the foyer are perfectly to be expected--your shoe storage is also really cute!

  2. Very cool, love the distressing and great accessories (love birds/nests). I also really like the "tickets" sign. The foyer looks great.

  3. Oh my gracious! It's beautiful! I love the accessories too! So pretty! That tickets sign is GREAT! Did you make that? Love that black mirror on your wall too!

    I've been looking for a headboard for my room and never thought of a fireplace mantal. I've been looking for a door. This is even better! Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a wonderful project and it's perfect where you placed it!!! I also love your've done a wonderful job!!!

  5. Do your shoes always look like that? Ours never would! anyways -- the mantle is perfect and I love your blog!

  6. Love the crisp white of the mantel, it looks great! That's my next project:)

  7. Love the detail, and distressing, of your mantel. It looks great there in the hall. I found a $5 mantel, a blue tinted oak, that I also painted white. It hangs over our living room couch. I'm thinking now that I should distress it. If you get a chance, stop by and see it, although the items on it have changed:

  8. Saw you at SNS. I love it. I like all the birds decorating it as well. The tall bird reminds me of a bird I took photos of in by bird post when I was in Florida.

  9. You did a wonderful job. I love how you accessorized it with the birds and all. I really enjoyed your inspiration photos, too, especially the one with the large corbels and round mirror.

  10. Found you via tatertots and jello....I love your entryway! that's a great idea, using a mantle! (like the tickets--> sign too. :)

  11. Happy Birthday to you! I love the mantle there and your accessories. Thanks also for the inspiration of a mantle in the dining room as a sideboard. My dining room is tiny and this just may be my solution. Thanks!!

  12. So fresh and clean looking! It all goes together so nicely. You did a great job!

  13. How pretty! I love how you accessorized it with the summery little trinkets. It was interesting to see your inspiration pictures with the mantels behind beds. I think that's such a unique idea!

  14. So beautiful! I couldn't resist of featuring it on my blog :)

    ps I'm new follower


  15. I love the mantel in your foyer. It really fills the space nicely. You decorated so wonderful too. Love the wooden sea bird. And the willow branches, I have some on my mantel too!

  16. Gorgeous!! By the way, I featured your cabinet make over in my link love post last Saturday. Grab the 'I was featured' button, if you like. Thank you so much for sharing your creations.

    p.s. Everytime I mention your blog, Aaron talks about how you guys switched birthdays.

  17. Wow! That is a stunning mantle! I love how you distressed it! Great find! And that window ROCKS! I never see ones that fancy! hold onto that treasure (or give it to me!) THanks for linking up! (I lvoe the name of your blog!

  18. What a great idea! I have a wall in my living room like that (very tall) and I can't find anything that really looks great on it. This might be the answer. Thanks.

  19. Your mantle turned out very nice... love the finish you did. Thanks for the inspiration pics, too.

  20. I'm soo loving the mantles right now. They are everywhere...and it makes me want to put one everywhere!

    Great job! Love it!

  21. This is so pretty! I love it! Thanks for sharing and the inspiration!

  22. You are so creative, this grouping is awesome :D

  23. That looks so natural in your foyer. I love the way you layered your accessories. I guess you could attach a velcro curtain to the front of the shoe caddy if it really bugged you right? But I am like you, practical and it saves your carpets and most important, you've got the family trained! Woohoo. I did a post you might like about a fireplace mantle that I used in my yard.
    Saw your link on Tatertots and Jello.

  24. I LOVE your mantel, Erin. Turned out beautiful. You're so good at accessorizing, too! Love the bird theme.

  25. I love it and I love that you gifted yourself even more! You drew from some beautiful inspiration too. Thanks for linking up :).

  26. I love it! So much to find on Craig's List and I have never even looked at it. You foyer looks really good. But I have no idea how that small shoe shelf is big enough for all of your shoes. Lisa~

  27. What an excellent birthday gift! :-) I love the idea of putting it in your foyer and I really like your sign too. Great job!

  28. I love the shoe storage. Meet your newest follower!

  29. Not sure how I found your blog but I love it! I just added you to my reader. Love your style.

    Have you ever thought about sprucing up your blog? I do custom blog designs starting at $35. You can check out my design site here:

  30. Love this idea & I enjoyed stopping by your wonderful blog!

    Warmly, Michelle

  31. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment. Your mantel came out lovely and I love all the other inspirational photos as well. Look forward to seeing your future posts.

  32. What a great idea to put a mantel there!! I'm putting it in the PoPP Spotlight on Saturday. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  33. Oh my! I never thought about looking for a mantel on CL!!!!! Waiting for husband to building one under mounted TV. Just check CL and getting one (already painted) tomorrow for $30! I so excited!!!!


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