DIY Faux Mantel Shelf Install

Does anyone else suffer from fireplace envy? I desperately wanted a fireplace in our new house. But, here in the deserts of Arizona, they’re a little harder to come by than in other parts of the country. The house we found (and ultimately moved into) was perfect in many ways, but it was lacking a fireplace. This poses such a decorating dilemma, especially around the holidays! No stockings hung by the chimney with care. No safe place (i.e out of the reach of little boys’ hands) to display breakable items! So, we finally created a solution to our fireplace-less home and made over our dining room/living room area a little by installing our own “faux” mantel shelf! It’s fairly “plain-Jane” on it’s own, but I LOVE it dressed up! The room it’s in is quite large, with giant vaulted ceilings. So, our new faux mantel helps fill some of the space better. We still need more decor in that room (and, well, quite frankly furniture that goes together & matches). But, the mantel is at least a step in the right direction! (Look at how sad & lonely that picture looked on the wall by itself before! Yikes!)

We got all the materials for our faux mantel install at Lowe’s. It all started while I was browsing in the decorative modeling aisle. I had some other project plans in mind. But then, I stumbled upon a whole fireplace kit section–complete with mantels, fireplace surrounds, corbels, etc. They had an unfinished 6ft. mantel for $78. So, we then got some corbels/shelf brackets, picked out a large mirror, and got some red mahogany stain to match our dining room set as closely as possible.

Now, on to the work. First off, if you are going to be using softer/lower quality wood (hence the $78, not $150+), I definitely recommend using a wood conditioner/pre-stain before applying the stain. It will help the overall appearance when you apply the stain. Even with the wood conditioner, a more expensive wood certainly would look much nicer. But, this works fine for us and the price tag is right. If you’re worried about how the wood is going to absorb the stain, you could always just paint instead.

In addition to pre-treating the wood, we also made sure to sand the mantel well before applying the stain. Then, we spent time staining. And, once that was dry, we did a coat of polyurethane (satin finish). We did the same process on the shelf brackets as well.

Once that all was dry and looking the way we wanted, we moved on to installing it. First up, we had to mount a cleat to the wall. This is what the mantel attaches to for added support (the mantel is hollow in back). Then, we attached the mantel shelf to the shelf brackets and installed that on the wall. The shelf brackets go into the wall with large dry wall anchor screws. And, then, you nail the mantel shelf to the cleat, so everything is nice & sturdy!

Once the shelf is up, we hung the mirror. I love how it helps take up some of the vertical space on the wall. It’s a dark wood also (even though I know it looks black in the pictures). Again, the two look fairly plain on their own, but I don’t think the mantel will ever sit just empty again! ;) The only thing left to do then is decorate! :) And, since Halloween is this week, the mantel got spookified! It is SO nice to have a place to set breakable items that the boys can’t get to! Even though I had displayed my new apothecary jars on the back of the piano before, I had to move everything for fear of the boys breaking it.  But, not anymore! ;)

I can’t wait to decorate it for the rest of the seasons/holidays! So fun! And, now I’m eager to get some better wall decorating going in the rest of our living room/dining room area!

Do YOU have a fireplace or “faux” mantel?

Interested in winning $100 to Lowe’s…then, head on over to this month’s giveaway (ends tomorrow night 10/30). For even more ideas, visit Lowes Cre­ative Ideas. While you’re there, you can sign up to receive their free Cre­ative Ideas Mag­a­zine, which is full of all kinds of ideas & inspiration!

Dis­clo­sure:  I am a mem­ber of the Lowe’s Cre­ative Ideas Cre­ators & Influ­encers Net­work and received a Lowe’s gift card to com­plete my projects. As always, all opin­ions and expe­ri­ences are my own.


  1. says

    UGH! Wish I had known about this last year! I had no idea they had a fireplace section. I wanted to create a cool headboard with a mantel type shelf, but when I tried to create it with molding and wood it DID NOT turn out how I had planned and I HATED it. I totally could have worked with what you did and come out with something I loved. GREAT JOB!

    • Sara @MomEndeavors says

      Bummer, Kim! I thought about completely building our own shelf too. But, when I saw the already constructed mantel piece, I decided that was the way to go! :) At least, now you know! ;)

    • Sara @MomEndeavors says

      Thanks, Donna! It took a little time, but was a relatively easy project! Good luck getting a mantel on your fireplace! :)

  2. says

    I don’t have a fireplace or mantel in the current house I’m living in, but boy did I love having one when we did! If I weren’t moving next week, I’d tackle this project. I may just have to give it a shot if the new home doesn’t have a fireplace or mantel either.

  3. JenZ says

    I was so encouraged seeing this post, but unfortunately when I went online to look at the choices at Lowe’s, the cheapest one was over $250! I love the look of this to put over our fireplace, but I am afraid I will have to keep looking, unless maybe they will have these on sale at the end of winter – if so, I will wait a few months and look then :)

    Thanks for the post – your mantel shelf is lovely!

    • Sara @MomEndeavors says

      Hi Jen!
      Thanks for the comment. Have you checked in store? We did NOT pay over $250 for our shelf. Not even close!! Definitely see if you can do some checking! I don’t even think we spent $250 for the mirror, shelf, and stain!

      Good luck!

      • JenZ says

        Thanks for the suggestion! I will check in store as soon as I can – maybe there are some good before or after Christmas sales going on :)

        I saw a way to make one from scratch, but I know that I will never get around to that, so I really want to do it the way you did!

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