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Faux Fireplace Mantle (for those without a fireplace)

 So excited to have Sara from The Aqua House here again today, sharing how she made this darling Faux Fireplace Mantle.  Such a great design solution for those without a fireplace!


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Hello again! I’m Sara from The Aqua House and I’m here today with another tutorial for you.
A few weeks ago I was out shopping with my mom when I came across a faux mantle in a furniture store.  I instantly fell in love with the idea, especially since I have been wanting a mantle for years.  There isn’t a fireplace on the main floor of my house, and even though we are in the process of finishing our basement (and putting in a fireplace down there), I just couldn’t wait any longer to have a mantle. I can’t be the only one who dreams of having a mantle but doesn’t have a fireplace.  Right?? So if you’re like me, and you’ve been wanting a mantle, this is the tutorial for you!
One of the best parts of this mantle is that it’s finished cost came in right around $50.  Definitely much more cost effective than buying one in the store.



I’m so excited that I finally have a mantle to call my own.  In fact, the hardest part of this project has been deciding just how I want to decorate it. Too many ideas are floating around in my mind.  This mantle is also a fabulous place to display seasonal decor…I’m thinking Christmas stockings, wreaths, and banners.
Faux Fireplace Mantle (for those without a fireplace) --- Make It and Love It
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Are you ready to make your own mantle? It’s super easy and can be done in an afternoon.
For this project you will need:
  • 2 pre-made brackets (found at Home Depot or Lowe’s in the trim section)
  • 7 feet of trim
  • 1 pre-primed MDF board that measures 11/16 inch by 7 1/4 inches by 6 foot
  • 1 1/2 inch nails and nail gun
  • compound miter saw
  • wood putty
  • wood glue
  • paint
  • router (optional)




To start out you will cut your MDF board down to 5 foot long.  Why didn’t I just buy 5 feet of it to begin with? These boards aren’t sold by the foot, so the 6 foot board was the closest one to the size I needed. If you choose to go with a different board that is sold by the foot then, of course, you would only need to buy 5 feet.



Next you will need to grab the piece of trim and turn your saw to a 45 degree angle.  We are going to use 45 degree angles to give the mantle a nice finished look on the corners.



Cut your trim to the following dimensions:

  • 1-  5 foot section
  • 2-  7 1/2 inch sections




Here are my two 7 1/2 inch sections. Our mantle top is only 7 1/4 inches, but we are adding in 1/4 inch to our side trim pieces to account for the 1/4 inch of trim that will be attached to the front of the board first.



This next step is optional.  I decided that I wanted a groove along the top of my mantle to help hold pictures up on it. If you would like to add a groove to your mantle, now is the time to do it, before we attach the trim.  I used a 1/4 inch round nose router bit.  The bit looks like this:



Next, I set up a guide (the brown board that is clipped to the mantle top) so the line would be an even three inches from the back.  Then I had my husband router it as I don’t have a lot of practice with a router and I didn’t want to ruin my mantle top.



After routering, it’s time to flip the mantle top over and mark where to attach the brackets.  Measure in 4 inches from one end, and make a mark.  This is where the outside of the bracket will attach. In other words, you will attach the bracket to the left of this mark (from this view).  You will have a 4 inch mantle overhang on the side of the bracket.



Apply wood glue to the back of the bracket and attach it to the bottom of the mantle top.



Next, we are going to use a nail gun to attach the bracket instead of the screws that came with it.  Why? Because the screws are too long and would puncture the mantle top.



After the brackets are attached, it is time to grab your five foot piece of trim and nail it to to the front of your mantle top.



Then attach your side pieces and use your wood putty to fill in any nail holes.



Now its time to bust out your paint cloth and go to town painting! I recommend using a satin or semi-gloss paint and lots of Floetrol to give it a smooth finished look.


After your paint dries, it is time to hang it on your wall.  Then, as I mentioned before, comes the most difficult part…deciding what to put on it!

Good luck!
 Check out Sara’s blog HERE, her Facebook page HERE, and her Pinterest Boards HERE.
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  1. sarah says:

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I live in a small town where there isn’t much in the way of home decor stores. I’ve looked into ordering something exactly like this at pottery barn, but it was expensive and shipping was crazy. You’ve inspired me to try this myself. It doesn’t look too crazy after seeing your pictures. Thanks again.

  2. Terra says:

    Love the paint in the foreground of your shelf. Is that a stencil or wallpaper?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I think it just looks like a shelf because there is to much white. A white shelf on a color wall would really pop.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    You can buy shelf boards that are 12″w and how ever ling you want it. Put 2 together for thickness then use a trim of your choice. I have all my own tools and my son showed me how to use them but I decided to purchase 2 wood shelf brackets that already had the metal plates on the back. Before you buy find your wall beams first. Usually said to be 16″ apart but not in all homes especially old ones. Your shelf can come right to the end of the bracket or extend a little on each side. I extended my shelf as I wanted pictures up but didn’t want to see the back of the picture frames in the mirror. Candles look beautiful in front of a mirror with some flowers real or fake. You don’t have to fill the whole space up with clutter just simple, clean and peaceful .

  5. Chalene says:

    I’m trying but having trouble with the fact that it just kinda looks like a shelf to me. I LOVE this blog & most things posted. And while this is a really pretty project (with awesome how-to), I just don’t see the “mantle” part of it. Would love to have a tutorial on a bigger one that maybe created the frame (to the floor) of a built in where the back could be painted & candles, etc put in the ‘log’ space. Ever done one like that?

    1. Summer says:

      I thought the same thing! It just looks like a normal shelf.

    2. Sara says:

      You are absolutely right, it is a giant shelf! While there are many ways that I could have designed this, I chose this look because it mimicked the faux mantle I saw while I was out shopping. For me, this piece FUNCTIONS as a fireplace mantle in my space, and was designed to be roughly the same size as most mantles. I hope that helps clear up any confusion!

    3. Tammy says:

      I think the fact that there is nothing in the picture to give the mantle scale it appears very small and like a shelf. Even the items on it appear small size. It looks like it’s about 2 1/2 feet and by your instructions I know that it must be bigger. Great instructions and very nice regardless of the picture “size.”

  6. Lorena says:

    This tutorial is amazing! Thank you so much for the great step by step because non professionals like myself need the instructions spelled out lol
    I am all over this tutorial and ready to give it a go!

    1. Sara says:

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy your mantle. I am the type of person that needs things spelled out too, so I always try to make sure my tutorials are clear.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I did this years ago when I needed a change. Candles in front of a mirror make it so homey.
    Want to ask if you have any ideas for decorating around a free standing fireplace. Every home decorating site has a built in fireplace.
    I am sure that many people have added free standing. Besides helping to save on fuel cost it adds a nice cozy and romantic touch to a room.

    1. Sara says:

      I grew up with a free standing fireplace in my house, but I’m not sure if I have any spectacular idea for you. Sorry! My dad built some shelving on the wall behind the free standing and we were able to display items there. I love your idea with the mirror! I have an old mirror sitting in my basement that I want to go refinish now…

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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