DIY Plank Wall Mantel

Pallet Mantle

The mantel in our house has more or less been a giant eyesore since I can remember. It didn’t always look as bad as it does in the before picture, though. It had a bunch of cheesy square mirrors on the top and sides. We took those off, and it sat in that sad state for longer than I’d like to admit. The stack of wood was purchased probably two months ago. I had the idea for a plank wall and we saw a nice bunch of wood in the discount pile in Home Depot. In total, all of the wood for the project was less than $9. There was a few things that I had to do, before cutting and mounting the wood…

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There were giant holes where the shelf was bolted to the wall, and also one of the fake bricks was missing from the framing of the fireplace. I used Rock Hard to fill in the holes, and (more or less) made a fake, fake brick to blend in the gap. The “bricks” around the fireplace aren’t actual bricks, so that’s why it’s a “fake, fake brick.”  It’s not perfect, but it did the trick for now. Before painting the bricks, it’s also important to vacuum and wipe down all the crevices. It’s easy for dust to hide in there and ruin the paint job.

Cutting the wood was surprisingly easy. I give 100% credit to the nice miter saw that I got at an estate sale for $20. I got the idea for the chevron shape of the wood from a friendly older gentleman at Home Depot. I was telling him about why I was collecting all that wood and he said, “You know there’s a really simple way to make your wall look really fancy…” You just set the miter saw to a 45 degree angle, measure and cut. All I needed to attach the planks were 1.5in finishing nails and voila! It was up!

Next came the caulking…

Caulk

Then the paint…

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The bare wood looked great, but I wanted to try the white wash treatment. We’re also supposed to install some marble on the bottom, so I thought the raw wood and the marble might be too busy. I didn’t use an official measurement for the paint, just a plastic cup with some paint and added water until the mixture seemed about right. Very precise…

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I’m in love with that incense jar…

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So that’s that! I’m not brave enough to try to do anything with the marble right now, but I’ll post pictures of it when it eventually gets done. If you’re thinking of doing a plank wall, do it! It’s easier than you’d think and they look fantastic. For another great tutorial on planking an entire room, check out Domestic Imperfection… Leave me some comments with questions or suggestions. It’s always appreciated!

Dome Top Steamer Trunk Repair

Before and After 2

First, let me start by saying, “What a lot of work!” Especially compared to the first trunk I refinished. Secondly, I am so excited to write this post. I’ve had this thing for months and I’ve only been able to work on it a little bit at a time. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? You can see the original in the before and after picture. Apparently someone thought they would try their hand at refinishing it by painting those awful green stripes and white accents. First I tried to see if I could get the paint off by sanding, scraping and paint thinner…

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After a good hour of that nonsense, I gave up and decided that painting over it would be the next best option. In the picture above, you can see I’d already given up on getting the green off and started filling in holes and taping off the wood areas. That pretty much covers the next step in the refinishing. I used regular spackling past to fill the holes and larger dents. I left the old leather on the trunk until after I painted it and covered the areas where it had already crumbled off with newspaper and tape. This part was the most tedious. Not only does it take a long time, but it doesn’t get any prettier while you’re doing it…

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Things started looking up after the first coat of spray paint, though…

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Finally, no more ugly green…

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Few things are more satisfying than peeling back clean paint lines. Look at that, what an improvement already. The paper peeled off really easily, but I had to use a box cutter and screw driver to get the leather off. There was also some glue residue left, but a little sanding and scrubbing with a wire brush took it off pretty easily.

Next came the stain. Minwax, Colonial Maple…

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Even better, but it needed more shine. I found a gallon of polyurethane for floors at the Home Depot in the secret little scratch and dent section in the back for $9. I googled as much as I could about it, and I couldn’t find anything about using floor polyurethane on projects other than floors. I figured, “What’s the worst that could happen?” It could look absolutely fantastic, that’s what!

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After the first coat, some of the edges and knots soaked up the shine, but the second coat took care of that. The last thing that needed to be fixed on the exterior was the feet. I got a 50 cent piece of wood from the scrap section in Home depot and some furniture sliders.

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I also used more power tools on this project than I ever have before. First it was my miter saw to cut the scrap wood down to the right size, then electric drills to attach the wood and sliders to the bottom of the trunk. I was pretty proud of myself…

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The reason I had to make a new base was because one of the metal feet was missing and I have no clue at this point about how to replace it…

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Also, I can’t imagine the trunk sliding around on those metal knobs would be good for anyone’s floors. I thought about adding wheels instead of sliders, but they were all ugly. It seemed like it would just look awkward. This covers everything that I did to the outside. I have some ideas for the inside that I’m really excited about, but that’s for another post…

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What project isn’t complete without some help from the cat…

Vintage Steamer Trunk Repair

I found this steamer trunk at an estate sale a few months ago. I really liked the dark green and brass colors, but it had this big glob of tape residue on the top and a water ring.

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I thought I could get the white stuff of with some Goo Be Gone, but apparently the tape residue was as vintage as the trunk and it would not come off. It didn’t even think about coming off. It was pretty discouraging, actually. I didn’t originally want to sand it, because I was worried about messing up the finish that was still good. At this point though, the rest of the finish didn’t matter if there was a huge white chunk of ugly on the top. I had pretty much given up on restoring it, so the whole thing turned into more of an experiment. After a lot of sanding and scraping most of it was gone and the top was still really smooth. Unfortunately I slacked on taking a picture of this step. I found a paint color at Home Depot that was almost an exact match to the green, so painting was the next step. I wanted to paint the bottom side of the trunk first, so I could see how close of a match it actually was and if I would still like it.

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The bottom had some wear too, so I sanded it a bit and then painted. I thought the color was great, so I set about doing the most annoying part of this whole project, taping off EVERYTHING. UGH! So tedious.

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This is the bottom again. I used a little bit of filler to get rid of a few scratches and dents. Again, it’s always best to experiment on the side where no one will see it if you’re displaying it in your house. I did this same thing on my dresser though, so I figured it would turn out fine.

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Much better right? I intentionally didn’t want the paint to be 100% perfect, because I like the worn look. After I repeated this whole process 5 MORE TIMES, to finish all the other sides, It was a huge improvement. Something was still missing for me though. I decided to try something I’ve seen on Domestic Imperfection, she calls it the “Dirty Cowboy Treatment.” Basically, you just add some stain or glaze to it, to give it the nice worn look. I put it across all of the painted surfaces, with extra in the edges and corners. I think it’s perfect now!

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Somehow I wrote this whole post without noticing the cat in the picture below… it’s so nice to have company when I’m working outside! You can also see Keen ears poking up on the right side of the box… silly animals…

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Right now it’s just stacked in my room as a make shift end table. I’m not sure where it will end up, or if I’ll even keep it, but it was a good learning experience!