Building a Stacked Wood Fireplace Mantel


Sometimes when you live in a plain beige apartment, you have to add your own architectural interest. We didn’t a have fireplace, and we thought a mantel would make our apartment more cozy.


What we had before was an entertainment center, but we were ready to move on.


We saw a similar mantel in an Anthropologie store display, and I suggested we try to make one. I had no idea what kind of construction would come next.


stacked-wood-fireplace-supportThe stacked boards are nailed together. The wood is heavy, but it comes apart in five sections so that we will be able to take it with us when we move.

To avoid putting several holes in the wall, the mantel is built on two long boards that are mounted to the studs. The sections are assembled with brackets along the two supporting boards.

The center of the fireplace is chocolate brown linen.

We’ll keep it even after the holidays. The tree will come down and the blue chair will return. The garland will be stored away and we’ll add decorations for Spring. And the next time I make a suggestion about building something, I’ll remember that he might just take me seriously and do it.

(Update: Here is how it looks on a regular day, after the Christmas decorations have been put away.)

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. What sizes of boards? What kind of woods? Did he just go to Lowe’s and ask for remainders? Are the boards glued to each other? Is the brown piece in the middle a curtain or another board? Questions! ;)

    Evenshine´s last post…OK, Bolaño.

    • It’s a random assortment of different wood. Some are 2×4’s, some are cut. A few are stained along the edge to get the various colors. The boards were nailed to each other as they were stacked into sections, and the sections are assembled together with L-brackets along the two support boards. The center is a piece of chocolate brown linen tacked directly to the wall with a small nail in the two top corners.

      I’ll add that to the post.

      • All the boards are 3.5 inches wide (standard 2×4 width) and 48 inches long (exactly half a standard 2×4). I had two sheets of 4′ x 8′ wood (one plywood and one particle board) cut along the width to make about 24 pieces 3.5 wide and 48″ long. Some of the pieces are cedar fence posts, some are pine 1×4’s. I used pretreated 2×4’s and standard pine 2×4’s.

        I know that’s a jumble list, but it gave me 6 variations of wood with two different stains and “natural” color that produced 18 colors for the mantle. The bottom is simply a 2×12 with some very sturdy legs and the top is a 2×10.

  2. What a cool idea! It looks great!

    Laura´s last post…From My Family to Yours

  3. I’m anxiously waiting for answers to Evenshine’s questions! :) What a beautiful mantel….I can’t wait to show this to MY hubby. I think he’ll like it.

    Lydia´s last post…Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Jam Spread

  4. I’m always impressed by you and your family’s capabilities, but this one takes the cake! It’s creative and economical amd timeless, three of my favorite adjectives for decorations.

    Christina W.´s last post…Never, in my many years as a wanderer, have I met such a wanderer.

  5. Wow! And all this time I thought it was part of the apartment. Kudos to your husband!! :-) Do you have snow today?

  6. Wow! I thought this was part of your apartment- as in built in! It looks SO wonderful- I’d definitely leave it up year round!

    melissa´s last post…wrapping up*

  7. What a great idea! I hope you don’t mind, but I mentioned it in my blog, and I shamelessly copied the picture to my blog as well.

    Thanks for sharing.


    Troy @ I refuse to Recede´s last post…Christmas Tree Stand

  8. another Denise says:

    Greetings from the other end of the Tollway…

    Isn’t Anthropologie wonderful? I like to wander around and look at their window and ware displays for inspiration. Some very talented person just cranks out these great ideas with regular stuff! Fun to figure out how to put our own spin on these things.

    Looking forward to snow as well, here in Dallas, where snow is a novelty…have fun!

  9. Love this!

    And, is that a knit hat as the tree topper? OMG! What a genius idea. I have been wanting to think of something for the top of our tree and frankly can’t stand angels, but this is perfection!

    Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last post…A sweet way to say thanks

  10. That’s pretty cool.

    Rhonda´s last post…Charlie

  11. You guys have a good thing going on down there! Almost makes me want to move back to Texas. =)

    So beautiful and original!


    steadymom´s last post…Moms’ 30-Minute Blog Challenge

  12. If I didn’t have a ‘real’ fireplace, I would be heading to the lumber yard TODAY. I am in love with this idea and I hope to be able to use it someday! Thank you for sharing.

    bashtree´s last post…Christmas Tear-Down

  13. Miko's Girl says:

    LOVE it!

  14. Love how your hubby can just whip stuff up! The wood looks beautiful with the Christmas greenery. Can’t wait to see the changing mantel displays through the seasons.

    jill´s last post…Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…

  15. What a wonderful idea. I love the mix of light and dark woods. We still use a tv just like the one in your picture and we used to have a microwave/tv stand exactly like that, too. We took our fireplace out and replaced it with a wall of windows years ago, but I really miss it at Christmas time.

    Wayside Wanderer´s last post…A Homeschooler’s Christmas Break

  16. Love the idea! Enjoyed browsing through your blog today, will definitely be coming back!

    Rachel´s last post…Gingerbread Hobbit Hole

  17. Ahhh … You gotta’ love a man who takes a whim and goes with it.

    Wonderful job!

    Anna´s last post…A Sophisticated Egg

  18. This is the coolest thing! I almost think I like it better than our tiled fireplace. It is certainly more interesting looking. Nice job!

    Katie @ goodLife {eats}´s last post…Baked Potato Soup

  19. Jess @ DAILY says:

    That is absolutely gorgeous! What a great idea and I would think rather cheap, too, if planned out properly!
    I am going to have to keep this in mind to share for a frugal, creative idea post I have rolling around in my head.

  20. WOW!!!!
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the fireplace!!! (And the blue chair!) Kudos to you and Doug for being such creative people!!! :)

    Happy New Year!!! ;)

  21. Wow!!! You guys don’t take on little projects, I love it!!!

  22. THANK YOU for making a post out of my question! I ***LOVE*** the look but couldn’t figure out how it could be safe with an actual fire in it… Now I know better!!

  23. WOW. This is AMAZING! You guys are increadibly creative and talented.

    jeana´s last post…Pictures from the past few weeks

  24. Having lived in rentals for nearly 10 years, I so know what you mean about beige walls. This faux fireplace is a triumph!!

  25. This is seriously, seriously pretty amazing, I hope you know!
    We are in a rental too, but we do have a fireplace and mantel. I wish we didn’t so I could do this!! Amazing idea!

    Jaimie´s last post…The Box is Always, Always Better than the Gift

  26. Extremely creative! Your families amazes me!

    Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last post…Two Quotes

  27. I love it! It is such a great idea and really did make the space look great!

    Paige´s last post…I’ve been inspired…

  28. I have been admiring that mantle in your photos and wondering about it. Thanks for sharing. I love it!

  29. That is awesome!!!!!!

    Jennifer´s last post…So I did it!

  30. Brilliant! I noticed it in your pictures lately too and was curious about it. Amazingly creative – thanks for sharing.

  31. Like everyone else, I am also impressed–it’s beautiful!

  32. Jackie @ Lilolu says:

    This is just great. We already have a fireplace but I’d love to build something like this in another part of the house. It looks wonderful, great job.

  33. The mantle is beautiful and when reading the Christmas posts, I kept wondering how/why it came to be. (I was also wondering how you could burn things in there, but this post answered my questions!)

  34. I think it’s great that you have a handy-man like that!

    Nancy´s last post…beer bread ~ no kneading required

  35. Your fake mantle and the citrus-y garland are amazing! You’re so creative!

    Betherann´s last post…Breakfast

  36. I love it – and very cool that you’ll be able to take it with you.

    Happy New Year!

    Kelli´s last post…Tradition #3

  37. Let me just say–awesome! And is your hubby for loan??

    mrs.e´s last post…Farewell 2009

  38. I love it! You must be one proud mama and wife.

    Adele´s last post…A Lovely Image to Hold

  39. Meredith from Merchant Ships says:

    I was hoping you’d share the details! The fireplace made for some striking photographs this December!

    Meredith from Merchant Ships´s last post…Shortbread Gifts

  40. its a GORGEOUS idea! A creative decor thats way better than the before console, if you dont mind me saying :)) What do you use the mantle/ place on it after the xmas decor are removed? Am so tempted to get my dh to make one for our flat – regardless of our sunny/ humid climate! ;D

  41. What a fabulous idea! When I saw it in your other post I thought how lucky you were that your apartment had such a neat detail!
    Kudos to your DH for building it.

    mary b´s last post…Wrap up 2009 with A Year in Review

  42. I love it! Happy 2010 to you and your family!

    Jessica´s last post…Shop Re-opening

  43. So cute! What a great idea! Nothing says ‘cozy’ like a mantle, even if it doesn’t have a fire inside.

    Farmer Gal´s last post…Nasal Congestion & Other Nonsense

  44. very very cool. very creative. i love it. i had no idea you guys had made it yourself!

    nicola´s last post…learnings from a year of buying nothing new

  45. Oh this is so very sweet. What a great project. It turned out great.

  46. I just showed this to my husband b/c I was so impressed and he got all giddy. That is so cool–if we had the space we’d be banging wood together today!

    hillary´s last post…flowers13: @fremontmama tweetdeck :)

  47. This is such a cool idea. You should submit this to – I get the magazine and its just the sort of thing they feature in the publication. Maybe you will receive something in return?

  48. Also, is that an old library index card filer next to it?!?! Cool!!!!!

  49. I LOVE this idea. I grew up in apartments, and this would have been a great idea. It just pops, the colors are wonderful and it looks so warm and modern. Love it!

  50. I absolutely love this idea! We’re considering a remodel and the fireplace would get tucked away in the office…we might have to do something like this in the living room. Darcy got it right – warm and modern!
    Maggie´s last post…It’s Not So Far from There to Here