Our apartment has a wood burning fireplace, which is pretty awesome. I’ve always wanted to have a nice mantle like you see in pretty pictures on Instagram or Pinterest. On one of my perusing days, I found a picture of a breakfast bar that was supported by a pair of antique corbels
I thought this would be a GREAT idea for a mantle!
The problem was that old wooden corbels can be pretty expensive, and I haven’t come across any in my travels. One day, I did a Google search on antique stores near me and found a promising place in Oxford called Shank’s Barn. I took a drive down one day and realized that I had passed by this place for years on my way to visit my grandparents when they lived in Maryland.
Let me tell you, Shank’s is like an episode of American Pickers. You name it, they have about 50 of them. Pulleys, doors, windows, iron railings, doorknobs, weather vanes, etc. They have about 7 or 8 buildings FULL of architectural salvage pieces and antique finds. I had an absolute blast and killed about 3 hours looking around and letting my mind run wild with ideas.
I found 2 corbels that had a relatively simple design, were solid, and weren’t caked with too much old paint. For the shelf, I took home a leaf from a dining room table. This puppy was super sturdy and only $20. The corbels were $25 each. It sounds like a lot of money, but these were the cheapest option and they were just the right size.
I took all of my new gems home and got to work. The table leaf was pretty dirty, so I wiped it down with a gentle cleaner.
I used my heat gun on the corbels and began the arduous process of stripping off the layers of old paint. I figured that some of those layers were lead paint, so I read up on how to do it safely. I bought a respirator with a filter for lead particles and kept the heat below a certain temperature so I didn’t create any lead fumes.
I didn’t take any pictures of that process because it was hard enough holding the heat gun in one hand and a scraper in the other while balancing a corbel and trying not to burn the carpet. I’m sure you understand.
Some areas were stubborn, so I used some Citristrip as well.
It was ugly. Not going to lie.
But it started to become worth it once I saw wood underneath all of the goop.
I planned on painting the corbels in Miss Mustard Seed‘s newest color, Farmhouse White. She is using this color as her theme for her booth this year at Lucketts Spring Market (and YES – I got my VIP ticket already), but the store I went to had sold out of the color completely. I picked up a bag of Ironstone instead. Ironstone was her true white until Farmhouse White came along, so it was good enough for me.
I mixed up a batch and painted 3 coats on the corbels. I didn’t get all of the old paint off, but I was OK with that. The rough texture made them look more authentic.
I was going to paint the table leaf in the same color, but I was finding that the Ironstone just wasn’t covering as well as I had hoped. I figured it would take at least 3 coats of paint.
Here’s number 1:
And number 2:
I just wasn’t “feeling” it. So, I popped open a can of General Finishes’ Persian Blue.
It covered the shelf perfectly in 2 coats.
After some distressing and waxing, the shelf was ready to go. I picked up some heavy duty corner braces from my local Ace Hardware store and with my husband’s help, we marked where we wanted them to go on our wall by the fireplace.
I drilled in drywall anchors and attached the braces to the wall. Then we both measured where we wanted to drill holes for the shelf and the hubs countersunk them for me so I could fill them in later with wood putty.
Together, we screwed the shelf through the brace and into the corbels. See the metal brace sandwiched in between the shelf and the corbel?
(There was another way to attach the corbel to the wall. It would require a keyhole drill bit, which I didn’t have. Considering the weight of the shelf, I wanted something heavy duty to handle the weight of the wood and whatever would go on top.)
I went back and filled in the screw holes with wood filler and sanded them smooth.
I also filled in one of the peg holes along the front edge. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t perfectly filled in because it gives you a hint as to what the shelf was before it was repurposed.
And after a touch up coat of paint, our new DIY mantle was all finished!
We’re so pleased with the results!
I kept the distressing to a minimum on the shelf to offset the texture of the corbels.
I’ve been waiting so long to have a pretty mantle to display underneath my Decor Steals cow head and boxwood wreath. Now I have one!
I snagged this lantern from Decor Steals as well. It’s the perfect addition to the new mantle.
Now we just need to wait until the Fall to burn a fire and enjoy the new mantle properly.