before and after summer mantel

before and after summer mantel

- in Handmade

When people ask us where our TV goes, one of our very favorite things to do is show them our secret compartment on our mantel. But let me back up for a moment. Because this is {potentially} a long story, and I promise to make it short, but we do believe in a fun foray of before and afters when applicable. So without further ado, our before and after summer mantel!

Today I’m joined by a fabulous group of blogging friends who are also sharing their Summer Mantel or Vignette Styling Ideas as part of the Seasonal Simplicity Summer Series…

The Happy Housie // Shabbyfufu // Lolly Jane //
Rooms FOR Rent // Modern Glam

The Turquoise Home // Taryn Whiteaker // The Handmade Home //
Jenna Kate at Home // Zevy Joy

She Gave it a Go // Town and Country Living // Tatertots and Jello //
Southern State of Mind // Tauni Everett

All Things With Purpose // This is Our Bliss // Setting For Four //
Life is a Party // Sincerely, Marie Designs // Finding Silver Pennies

When we moved in, our mantel looked like this: 

And yes, the only good thing about this house was… the location and yard. These photos really don’t do the level of gross, justice.


But the mantel was fabulous circa 1970-somethingish. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our little money pit journey, for the main living space, we decided to make 4 rooms one and raise the ceilings as well, for the ultimate living area. I went back and forth, because at first I thought, let’s salvage this! I want to save that mantel! But the proportions felt off. And when we went to take out the drywall {aka paneled walls} it started to crumble. There was also some water damage in that corner behind said fireplace, because of the roofline. So full-on demo to ensure it’s done correctly, it was. 


Once that was taken care of, the great debate was what kind of fireplace, and where will the TV go?

DUN DUN DUN! Cue the drama music, because the only place a TV could go, was over the fireplace. 

We all have things about houses we don’t like. This rise in TVs over the fireplace trend has been mine for a while. It’s more function than form and stuff. I’m also an artist so I believe that the placement of things over the mantel should be reserved for the holiest of holies: good art or sentimental elements. It wasn’t helping matters that we now officially had less walls to work with. I do love my photography and art.

Imagine my dismay when we knocked out all our walls and I fought it for a while, because I knew the inevitable was coming: TV placement. The irony isn’t lost on me.


Complicating matters further, was the wonderful loving husband of mine who is obsessed with wood burning fireplaces. Jamin thought he was going to be Paul Bunyan and put on his plaid shirt and go out every morning and gather the wood for Ma’s wood burning fireplace.

The TV couldn’t go over the fireplace if it was wood burning, because it would get too hot. Also, see aforementioned point, I didn’t want the TV to go over the fireplace. But it was the only place to go, once you see how we decided to arrange the furniture and the rest of the room. Also, the roofline with its water damage issues, would not allow for a proper chimney, without further future issues. It was even guessed that once upon a time, a wood burning fireplace was there, only to be replaced with gas. Do you see what I’m doing here? Because the circular thought process of madness doesn’t end here. Yay renovations!


I feel like in the end, we came up with a great compromise. We designed and built out a new fireplace {with a great hulking little hearth that I love} and a secret compartment for the TV. Jamin was bummed about the wood, but because Nashville gets so cold, {yes it does get cold here; stop smirking, northerners – our summers are pertty brutal ;}} we love being able to come in and flip on our fireplace with a switch. Sometimes gas gets a bad wrap and we’re kind of huge fans, three years in retrospect. It puts out some serious heat.


I found an old piece of barnwood at a local flea market, that became the mantel area. And we decided to finish off some beautiful brick with a gorgeous mortar rub. I have this thing with brick. Isn’t it amazing what a difference a mortar rub can make?


So when we talk about our mantel, it makes sense to tell the story of our before and afters. We feel like it’s a good story to share. And the fun little secret power it has, of the tv behind the art on our new highly functioning fireplace. Sometimes people ask us where our TV is. Here’s the answer. 

The story of how I was able to have my cake, and eat it too. 

I was thrilled to paint this photo of the kids in the pool. Painting is my therapy, and it just felt like a fun little portrait to capture the essence of awesome in our own back yard. We recently replaced our overhead light with this beauty from Kichler.} So we love a fresh take on our fireplace for summer. 

For this season, our approach is simple. Fun color + the contrast of natural elements, with pieces that reflect our family and tell our story.

Without the TV in sight, is a nice bonus.

But we do love what a huge difference changing everything has made.

It wouldn’t be the same without our fireplace!


We’ve really loved pouring all our energy into this house.

It’s been well worth it. The stories have, too. 

Thanks for tuning in for our little fireplace journey. 

As always, let us know if you have any questions or if we can point you in the right direction. 

Have an inspired day!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the fabulous sites participating, per the links above! 

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