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It has been well established publicly by now that I am have been fully putting off finishing my kitchen by jumping into other, though full-filling, unnecessary projects. One of these said projects was the kitchen mantel project that I embarked on one weekend. In my defense, it really started with me just hanging some art above the mantel on the fireplace, but one thing led to another, and before I knew it I was shopping for accessories to style my newly upgraded mantel.
To begin with, I didn't even realize that items could be placed on my mantel at first. Our mantel has always been flush with the brick, so it wasn't really possible to put anything on top of it. In my process of procrastination, I discovered that I could in fact pull the mantel out a bit, and with some added 2x4s to the back in order to ensure that it wouldn't fall out, I now had a mantel that I could style. Any space to style is a win in my book!
The finish of the mantel, which was original to our 1950's farmhouse (even before all the additions that had been put on it over the years) was already beautiful. However, it wasn't quite my style, and I wanted it to be a little more earthy than it was. We removed it and moved it outside so that I could sand it down, which I did. And then I continued sanding, and then sanded some more. There was a lot of sanding involved. Once it was finally all sanded down, I decided to use a method that I had used in the past to get rid of some of the red tint to the wood. I used a 2:1 bleach/water mixture and wiped it on the wood. In this case, I did two coats, and I waited a couple of hours (or until the wood is sufficiently dry) between coats. Bleaching wood really gives a beautiful finish and is such a great way to be able to lighten up a piece or to take some red or pink tones out.
Once that giant beam was all bleached, we put it back in its final resting spot, and I honestly could have left it bare. I ended up opting for a stain, though, because, as I mentioned, I I really wanted to bring some earthy tones in to this space. I went with what I had on hand in the garage, and to be totally honest, I wasn't entirely sure how the wood would take the stain after the bleach bath, but like most of my projects... I just went for it. I started with a coat of Early American, which is beautiful and rich brown, but whenever I look at it, it still seems a touch orangey to me, so I usually like to apply another color over top. I've experimented with a few, but in this case I went with Sunbleached. A generous coat followed by some generous wiping in order to blend the two, and I was left with a beautiful, muted chocolate brown.
You all know that I didn't even wait for the stain to dry before I started styling, and I ended up leaning tow pieces of art against the brick. The larger piece was actually a landscape that I painted myself (I'll show you how I framed that in the next blog post), and the smaller piece was a beautiful wildflower view from the new Studio McGee line at Target. This piece can be hard to find in stock but I love it so much that I actually have two in my house, so if it's available, you know I say SNAG IT! I flanked the art pieces with a couple of cute vases, also from Target and some of my favorite candlesticks.
Listen, procrastination or not, I am beyond happy that I didn't just leave this mantel well enough alone. I think it brings the perfect amount of warmth and style to this room! If you need me, I'll just be over here looking for more wood items to bleach because I'm a little obsessed...