The Classic Coastal Fireplace Mantel
When Laurie and I were looking to install an electric fireplace in our living room, we started by shopping around at local stores to see what we could find. Some of the firebox units were small, while others didn't look very realistic when they were on. We were also not satisfied with the fireplace mantels that came with the electric fireplace units. The quality and detail in many units were not what we wanted to be the focal point for our living room. As a woodworker, I decided to design a fireplace mantel that would not only look appealing, but would be built with a higher level of quality than what we were seeing in the stores.
The design of the Classic Coastal Fireplace Mantel started with sourcing the firebox unit. We shopped around for a unit that looked like a realistic fire and we settled on a Dimplex fireplace insert (note: purchases made with this Amazon link help fund our video production work). We found it in two local stores and we decided it had the most realistic looking fire. Once I had the firebox dimensions, I could sketch out some designs. You can see some of that process in our Quality Fireplace Mantel YouTube video.
The basics of the design were to create both a visually appealing and a properly proportioned fireplace mantel that would be the focal point for our living room. Laurie is drawn to a coastal look in our interior design and I love the look of gentle curves in architectural pieces. The Classic Coastal Fireplace Mantel is a unique design that incorporates panels, a gentle curve, and is painted white to give it a fresh, crisp, light look. The paint colour is Benjamin Moore Simply White (OC-117). We used Benjamin Moore's Advance paint in a Pearl finish. We love the end result!
I then took the design we had come up with and went to work figuring out how to build it. I started the work with making the curved mantel header. Cutting curved parts might seem intimidating, but once you understand the techniques of cutting curves, it's much less intimidating. You can learn how to do this in our YouTube video How to Cut Curves in Wood.
With the mantel header parts cut and assembled, I moved on to the side columns and sides. One of the details I noticed when we were shopping for fireplace mantels was how the sides and column faces were joined. Every one had a v-groove between the two parts to disguise the alignment discrepancies between the two surfaces. As a woodworker, I appreciate why the manufacturer did this from a production standpoint, but when you build this yourself, you can make something that's higher quality.
After building the side columns and attaching them to the mantel header, the last part was to build the top. I knew I was going to paint this in an off-site spray booth, so I built the top and the crown moulding in a way that it could be removed. That way I could transport the 4 parts easily, paint them, and bring them home to install. The spray painting process is fun but it requires good quality paint (Benjamin Moore Advance), a spray gun, and diluting the paint for spraying (see our How to Mix Paint for a Spray Gun video).
In preparation for the mantel installation, I framed in the structure for the firebox to sit and wired up a wall plug. I faced the frame with quartz pieces I cut from shower door jambs. I also added a black panel at the bottom of the firebox to visually balance the quarts surround in the opening.
Installing the fireplace mantel was exciting. This is where all the hard work paid off. We captured the installation process on video to share how this is done (see How to Install a Fireplace Mantel). If you would like to have this fireplace mantel in your home, you can purchase the Classic Coastal Fireplace Mantel woodworking plans and hire a local woodworker to build it for you or if you have mid level woodworking skills and own a router, table saw, and miter saw you could build this for your home.
We now have a strong focal point that anchors the room. The fireplace immediately draws your eye from a distance and yet when you look at it up close, you can appreciate the details that add a depth of character.