Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Place to Hang Stockings

Home improvement projects have slowed significantly. Okay, they've actually come to a complete stand still. Except for me exclaiming to Hubster that I've finally found the perfect place to hang the Dustbuster.

There are still projects aplenty. The master bath needs re-tiling. The blue bathtub and tile in the hall bath have got to go. It would be nice to have closet doors, stair hand rails, and lights in the living room. Those are all on the list. For later.

There was one project, however, that I was determined to get done before Christmas.

Do you remember when we finished the playroom/family room? There was a large black box in the far wall. Otherwise known as the fireplace.

The one thing I wanted done before Christmas was a mantle. A place to hang stockings. A gathering stop for the bitter cold Iowa winter nights. A focal place in an otherwise rather bland (but always messy) room.

We started by tiling around the fireplace. We chose a beautiful travertine tile (which we could afford to do, since this particular color was on sale, and there wasn't that much to tile.)

After I tiled and grouted, Hubster installed the surround and mantle. Let me clarify. I came up with an idea in my head about what I wanted the surround and mantle to look like. Hubster then patiently listened and examined my drawings. He then made multiple trips to the hardware store and built our mantle from scratch. By himself. With me playing cheerleader and avoiding anything with a sharp edge.

(There were many pictures of all the steps from start to here, but that would have meant subjecting you to dozens of blurry photos. Which I wasn't going to do. Merry Christmas.)

(And please note Monkey's little wooden tool box at the bottom of this photo. He and his wooden hammer, nails, and screwdriver were helpful at every stage of this project.)

After the (surprisingly large) mantle was built, I then painted it the same antique white as all the trim in the house. And painted. And painted. Repeat this step several more times, turning what should have beeen a one weekend project into a two week project.


Two weeks later, instead of this...

We now have this...

And a beautiful mantle like this is just begging to be decked out for Christmas. Just apply stockings the boys decorated two Christmases ago, free pine branches from the local hardware store, and handfuls of pinecones that the boys are always collecting.

I think the result is just magical.

There was still something missing. Hubster rectified this with a trip to a bait-and-tackle shop by the lake, from which he returned with enough wood to fill half our shed.

Last night, we enjoyed our very first fire in our new fireplace.

It feels more like home and more like Christmas than I would have ever imagined.


  1. We gave a fake fire place - the gas heater kind. I want to do a mantle and new tile soooo bad. I love what you did with yours! It is beautiful. There really is something about stockings by a chimney that just makes you feel more Christmasy...

  2. Oh, wow, that looks so nice! Your house is becoming such a perfect home.

  3. That is beautiful! Way to go Hubster, and I love the simple decorations. Seriously, I love it.

  4. It's beautiful!

    I have another couple of friends that just built their own mantle from scratch, too.

    Such talent you all have!

  5. I had to laugh about your hanging the Dustbuster—we, too, are in the process of fixing up our house, so I can totally relate!

    The fireplace looks fantastic! GREAT job.