Don’t you just love the holidays? There’s something so cozy about decorating for winter. It conjures up images of warm ski lodges, with crackling fires and hot chocolate. Our last house was only ten years old, and had lofty ceilings and a gas fireplace and lots of open space. But I could never get it to feel cozy. A year ago we moved into a smaller, older suburban house built in the 60’s, and honestly, I love it so much more. The shorter ceiling height actually makes it feel homier and more comfortable in here. And the fireplace is wood-burning. This is actually the first time in my life I’ve lived somewhere with a wood-burning fireplace, and as much convenience as gas fireplaces offer, there really is nothing like having actual fire, snapping and popping away.
So with that lovely fire burning away, I needed my mantel to follow suit. I’m sure someone with actual formal design skills could find fault with the symmetry or weight, and I admit that I don’t give much thought to where things are placed. I just move them around until they feel right. But when I look at it, I feel happy. And comforted. And home. And I think that’s really the goal of any mantel, isn’t it?
I also wanted to include some pics of the blanket ladder I have sitting right beside the fireplace, because this is truly a project that anyone can put together! It was actually the first piece of furniture I made and I owe so much thanks and gratitude to the beautiful ladies at Shanty2Chic for giving away easy, doable, woodworking plans for free that take you through everything step-by-step. They’re just awesome. All you need are two 2×4’s and a 2×6 that you can easily have cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s, so you don’t even need a saw. You bring them home, drill a few pocket holes (don’t worry, I had no idea what those were either, but once you have this contraption called a kreg jig (you can get it here or here, it’s a little expensive but seriously you’ll use this for pretty much every piece of furniture you make moving forward), you’re basically just using the drill bit that comes in the set and drilling some easy holes), then position the boards and drill in the screws. And you’re done. I stained mine using dark walnut minwax, which literally involved painting it on, waiting 15 min and toweling it off, and then letting it dry for 24 hours. Then I coated it with polyurethane, and it was done. I think it cost $10 or something. And it just feels so good to create something like this. Actually it was so fun I made a different ladder for behind the toilet in my powder room. I’ll post on that soon.
Tempted? Here’s the link to the plans again. You can do it! If you give this a shot, please share your pics. As well, if you do try this, I apologize in advance for enabling the make-your-own-furniture addiction that I’m sure you’ve now developed.😉