Get ready! This post is a long one with a ton of pictures!
When we first saw this house with our realtor back in November, one of the first things I knew I had to change was the giant hole over the fireplace. Not only is it outdated and an eyesore in my opinion, but I really want the chance to decorate above the mantel without a hole getting in my way.
After the wedding, it got a little better...
But there was still that darn hole, that is definitely not our taste.
We originally wanted to buy a giant mirror to put over the hole, but the cost of finding a mirror that large was not something that we wanted to cover right now. One day, I was sitting in the living room, and I had the thought to get old barn wood that was distressed and gray, put them together and cover the hole. Then, we could get a smaller mirror to put on top of the boards.
But, finding old wood that looked the way I wanted it to wasn't happening very easily. So, I decided to tackle the distressed look on my own. I made a quick trip to Home Depot and picked up 11 1x4x4 fence pickets. They looked like this when I bought them.
I used gray paint we had leftover from these projects here, here and here and painted a quick coat on the sides. After I let the sides dry, I painted a coat of the gray paint on the front facing side, and only let it dry for a few minutes before "distressing".
To achieve the look of a distressed board, I started by adding small brush strokes of white paint, followed by small brush strokes of black paint.
Sorry, so blurry! Then, I just blended the colors into the board, adding a bit more of white, black and grey when I felt like it. That's the great thing about this look, is that there is no "right way" to do it! I love projects that don't have to be perfect. This is the look you end up with.
On some of the boards, I used the straight grey paint, but others I added a bit of white or black to make some of the boards lighter or darker than the others. I wanted the boards to look like they were found and not all made on the same day, so this really helped.
We used MDF to attach the boards to one another, and wanted to see how used liquid nails to attach the boards to the MDF. After attaching a few boards, we put it up on the mantle to see how it was going to look.
Looking good so far, but two of my boards were WAY too dark, so I added a bit more paint to lighten them up. When they were all attached to the MDF, this is what it looked like.
We put the large piece up on the mantel for a few days, and then Matthew suggested that we make it a door so that don't lose any storage. Genius! I knew I married him for a reason. So, another trip to Home Depot it was and we picked up three 6" hinges. After assessing the piece again, Matthew thought it would be good to add another piece of MDF (which we had leftover in our garage from another project) for more stability. He attached the new piece of MDF and the hinges.
WARNING: The back of this piece is not pretty! We may do something to it in the future, but for now, this is what it looks like.
To attach the hinges to the wall, we used drywall screws.
Once they were all in place, we screwed the hinges into place and voi...yea did you notice the step I forgot to put in there? We screwed the whole stinkin thing into place without making sure it was level. Fail on our part and that thing was not even close to straight. So, we had to move our hinges because we have giant holes in our wall (which we still need to patch by the way) and start again.
It only took us a few minutes the second time, but we went through the drywall screw process again, held up the door, MADE SURE IT WAS LEVEL, and then screwed it into place, and voila, we had a door over the hole!
Much better, right? I love that it adds something a bit rustic to the room, and once we paint the walls and paint the trim, it will make an even bigger difference. I'm also not sure what we're going to put up on this board, or on the mantle, but for now this empty picture frame will live here. I love the other details we have on the mantel too.
To open up this guy, you just take things off the mantel (which isn't super convenient, but we don't think we'll be opening/closing it enough to justify an alternate solution) and open it up.
Like I said before, the back is not pretty at the moment, and we have giant holes to patch soon, but it works really well! We have just a simple door magnet to keep it closed.
This project was wonderful, because we only paid about $30 total for the materials, which is a huge difference from the $120-$200 we were looking at for a mirror to cover this hole. And, we kept the storage space, and we plan to add shelves in the future to maximize that space.
So what do you think? Any ideas for what we should put on top/in front of this?
Update: See our Full Fireplace Makeover Here