How to distress & update a wood mantle

I’ve been struggling with the look of my mantel ever since we moved in. If you follow me on instagram, you will know I was questioning whether to paint it or not. Well read on if you’re curious…

How to change a mantle in an hour!

(seriously it only took that long!)

Our mantel was previously an orange oak look and I needed that to just go away! However, I was really having a hard time trying to find the right stain color. I think it was competing too much with my wood floors. They are a distressed barn wood look so they have various shades of wood and a little white wash to them. I knew I didn’t want them dark and to lighten them meant a lot of sanding (bleh!)
After, much thought & Pinterest & Instagram surfing, I decided to take a leap and make a change. Enter paint selection! I decided to go with a chalk paint to avoid a lot of prep work and I love working with it for painted wood projects. I decided to go with Annie Sloan in Country White. Mostly because I already had it and I didn’t want a really stark white. The stone has a lot of yellow in it so I thought a pure white would look yucky!

Here is the before picture

First I felt that it need a little something something, so I got corbels to add on each side underneath.

These are the steps I took to distress the mantle

1- I wiped the mantel clean then added a little wax to random areas so the paint would scrape off for that chippy look. You can use vaseline as well.

2- I painted 3 layers of the chalk paint on the mantel and corbels.

3- Once paint is dry (chalk paint dries very quickly, another plus for using it!) you can use a small scraper to chip the paint. Be careful to not be too heavy handed on this step. I just gently did little scrapes in areas that would naturally get chipped or bumped. If you mess up or don’t like it, you can always paint it and re do . I wouldn’t suggest using sandpaper because it makes more of a scratched looked rather than chipped.

4- Next, I painted and chipped the corbels then we attached them to the mantel.


5- I finished it off with a little clear wax finish rubbing with a rag in light, small circles.
And that’s it! Easy Peasy project that was inexpensive and makes a big wow statement. Projects like this make me do the happy dance!
What projects have you done recently that were easy and fun? I’d love to hear your stories!

July 7, 2017

  1. sharon comly says:

    Deborah, This is beautiful! I love it. And, I love Annie Sloane chalk paint! This is Sharon from @houseonheatherfield, we just started running the #styledtablesaturday hashtag together! Love your blog!

    • says:

      Hey there!! Thank you so much, and thanks for checking out my blog friend. Sorry I’m just now seeing this!! obviously I’ve been slacking on my blog. The month got away with me… I’m really trying to do better with my posts, but I get one little computer glitch then I get frustrated and step away…. No bueno lol!! Well I hope you’ll come back more ~ hugs

  2. Susann says:

    Amazing! What a difference! I’ll be giving this a try on 2 shelves I have. Couple questions. How deep is your shelf and where did you find your corbels? Thanks for the inspiration

    • says:

      Hi Susann,
      Thanks for stopping by. It was such an easy project and yes the difference is amazing! The top shelf of the mantle is 10″ I bought the corbels Home Depot. So happy you got some ideas and best of luck doing yours shelves. Hope you come back often!
      ~Deborah xoxo

  3. Jackie says:

    Hi Deborah, did you stain your corbels before painting and chipping them? I am doing a similar project and the corbel wood is much lighter than the mantel so not sure if I should stain first. Thank you!!

    • says:

      Hi Jackie,
      Yes I stained them first. On the shabby chic look I stained then painted and chipped them up. On the current update I just used stain.


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