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DIY Thrifted Fireplace Mantel Makeover

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

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I've always had an interest in decorating and making pretty things, but it was the work of Joanna and Chip Gaines that really amped up my passion.

Every time I watched an episode of Fixer Upper, I felt this rush of excitement I couldn't wait to tackle a new project that would add personality and charm to our home! And even though the show came to an end last year, I continue to be inspired by Joanna's eye for design and Chip's craftsmanship on a daily basis thank you Instagram and The Magnolia Journal!

Today, I'm sharing a project with you that was directly inspired by something I saw in an episode of Fixer Upper. It took me a few months to find the perfect piece to make it happen, but my patience and determination paid off and now it's one of my favourite parts of our home.



Here is a shot of the piece that inspired me. I'm 99% sure it's from episode four of the third season of Fixer Upper. The client wanted their home to be filled with "old world charm," which is a style I'm quite partial to, so it's no surprise that elements of Joanna's design grabbed ahold of my heart!

Inspiration from an episode of Fixer Upper!

I wound up finding a secondhand fireplace mantel at a shop near our house called Memory Lane Antiques. Not only had it been marked down a number of times, it was also the perfect shape and size for our bedroom SCORE!

Someone had already painted the mantel white, but you could tell the job had been rushed. Also, the paint colour was a stark white, and I wanted a more toned-down hue that would complement the "old world" look I was trying to achieve. So, in order to give the mantel a creamy, timeless makeover, I turned to one of my favourite products: milk paint.

I love using the Miss Mustard Seed product line whenever I want to give a thrifted piece a fresh, new look. For this particular project, I decided to use her "Farmhouse White" paint, along with a few other products that I'll touch on in a bit.

I began by quickly scuffing up the mantel with some sandpaper. I didn't spend too much time on this, but a small amount of sanding really improves the way milk paint adheres to a piece.

After mixing my paint and adding a bit of bonding agent, I covered the entire mantel and allowed it to dry according to the product directions.

When you're working with a piece that already has some sort of finish on it (like paint), the bonding agent helps prevent chipping. While some projects may benefit from a chippy look, it was something I wanted to avoid for this one.

Once I was happy with the way it looked, I added a solid layer of antiquing wax to the mantel making sure to focus on its edges and ornamental details. I worked in the wax with a soft cloth and then wiped it off with another.

As you can see, some of the paint still ended up chipping, but because it was so minimal and sporadic, it actually added to the "old world" charm of the mantel, so I was OK with it.

After allowing the paint and wax to cure, my husband and I secured the mantel to the wall at the foot of our bed. Over the course of a few months, I decorated it with sentimental pieces and unique finds from some of my favourite stores.

It may not be identical to the mantel from Fixer Upper, but I'm so happy with the way ours turned out. It's a one-of-a-kind piece, and we always get compliments whenever guests spot it while touring the house.

To find out more about working with milk paint, check out the Miss Mustard Seed website. It's such a fun product to use, and the results it can create are truly amazing.

If this project inspires you to get crafty, let me know by sharing your creations with me! Leave a comment or use #katiesaracreates on social media. And don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss out on future posts!

Happy crafting!

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