A great way to add instant charm to any room is by hanging an antique or vintage mantel on a wall to create a DIY mantel shelf. In this blog post I’m sharing how repurposing an antique mantel is a creative way to make a floating mantel shelf to add extra storage or add decorative elements to a space. Best of all adding visual interest and charm won’t cost you a lot of money!

a fall coffee bar with the antique mantel turned shelf featuring green and white pumpkins, open lanterns and green vintage books.

This Zac Brown – Loving You Easy sign was too small for this space so instead of just hanging it on the wall to have it look like a postage stamp, I decided to have it sit on a shelf. Having signs and/or artwork sit on a floating shelf is a great way to fill up wall space because you can add decor elements to expand the area. I found this antique wooden mantel shelf on the Facebook Marketplace for $50. I knew it would become the focal point of this coffee bar space and the perfect accompaniment to this Zac Brown song lyrics sign.

straight shot of the hanging mantel shelf with a hand painted sign that has the lyrics to Loving you easy. Also shown is the coffee bar on the cabinet below and spring decor elements.

3 Reasons why you will Love this Project

  1. Ease – Once you find the perfect antique mantel hanging it is fairly simple. You will need to find the studs and work to attach the mantel to them so the mantel is secure to the wall.
  2. Charm – Who doesn’t love a unique piece that has either a known or unknown history. Where was this mantel all these years? Who originally built it? Was it a natural wood color first? It’s fun to try to fill in the blanks while enjoying a piece of history.
  3. Cost – The mantel comes with beautiful details and a perfect flat plane for a shelf. With just a little research you can typically find them fairly inexpensively.

About this Antique Mantel

As mentioned above I found this antique mantel on the facebook marketplace. It came in 3 pieces the mantel (shelf) with two side columns. I had planned on giving it a fresh coat of paint but once I got it home the lighter color and finish was perfect for my kitchen. It has a base coat of off white and then a pretty neutral glaze giving it a cool vintage finish. It was also already perfectly distressed with just the right amount of chippy!

close up of antique mantel turned shelf. this phot shows the paint finish that it came with. A neutral cream base with a glaze. it is distressed and chippy.

Hanging the Antique Mantel to Create a Shelf

I needed to bring in the heavy (my husband) to hang this large mantel! Plus I wanted it to hang straight and I am not known for such things! The first step was to remove the extra “lip” below the mantel. This piece of wood originally connected the two side columns. Ray was able to do so with a hammer and pry bar. The columns were put away for another project. Next came the level to both hang the mantel straight and mark the wall studs. To be sure the shelf was 100% secure to the wall (because he knew I was sure to load it with mantel decor) Ray headed to the hardware store in search of 3″ drywall screws. He screwed the mantel to the wall using 6 screws. I then took wood filler and filled each drilled hole, sanded then easily touched up the paint.

Supplies for how to make a shelf by repurposing an antique mantel

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find an Antique Mantel suitable for a shelf?

antique fireplace mantels can be found at a garage sale, thrift stores, yard sales, salvage yard, flea markets and the facebook marketplace.

Would this shelf work in other rooms in our home?

Anywhere you would hang a shelf this Antique Mantel would be an option. You could hang an old mantel as a shelf over your couch in the living room or use it as a tv stand. Use a fireplace mantel shelf as a headboard above your bed or hang this easy DIY project in your entryway over a console table, trestle table or a bench for some extra storage space.

How do you style this shelf?

Oh let me count the ways! It is one of my favorite places to add a decorative touch or two! The original plan was to have a place to sit the Zac Brown sign. Ray and I love this song and well when your husband gives you a sign with your favorite lyrics you want to highlight it! Each season I change up this space and will include some ides below. My very first design featured my Rae Dunn Hanging Planters.

Last year I changed this space from a coffee bar to a unique DIY baking station. My favorite addition were these old school house light fixtures. Ray and I decided not to hardwire them and just use the battery operated puck light trick with them. We simply attached the puck light to the light bulb socket with command strips, and use a remote to turn them on/off. We can dim the lights and use a timer on them. A very simple solution when you don’t want to bring in an electrician.

DIY Baking station. The latest design of this space included a baking station with everything needed for baking at my finger tips.

This shelf sits above a cabinet we added to our kitchen several years ago. We repurposed two bathroom vanity cabinet bases and used one for this space and the other to make a kitchen island. You can read about our kitchen makeover including the paint colors we choose in my kitchen island made from base cabinets post.

Pin it for Later

Thank you for checking out how to make a shelf by repurposing an antique mantel. As you can see it is an easy way to give new life and new purpose to wooden fireplace mantels. I really enjoy taking timeless unique pieces and using them in a different way. The total cost of this easy project was just $60, not bad for a one of a kind shelf – the best part is all it takes is a little creativity!

Let me know what fun uses you have found for wood mantels and keep creating friends!

my signiture. a drawing of me holding a coffee cup that says Create.

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