Saturday, December 29, 2012

Design Inspiration - great room fireplace

One of my favorite pieces in our house is the great room mantle and fireplace.  Since we've stuck with such a crisp, clean look throughout the house, I wanted to add something rustic and organic.  We have quite a few pieces of antique furniture that are just that - rustic, organic, dovetail construction, leaded glass and show the wear and tear of time. 
When thinking about what we wanted for our fireplace, we knew that we wanted to use a piece of timber with some sort of character.  When I stumbled this picture from The Lettered Cottage, I knew that I had found something special.  Layla and Kevin, bloggers from The Lettered Cottage had installed a beautiful piece of wood over their fireplace, achieving the exact look that I was going for. 

Timber mantle from The Lettered Cottage
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we're fortunate to have lots of local timber, both old and new. If you've ever Googled "reclaimed lumber," you'll find a slew of information and products available. Problem being, anything with the label "reclaimed" comes with a hefty pricetag. I looked at a local salvage store and found reclaimed timbers from an old warehouse in downtown Seattle with the total price for the timber (after being milled and finished) coming in at $700. That's just the piece of wood itself and did not include the installation.  A little tip: most timbers are priced per Board Foot, so bring your calculator if you're going shopping for a piece of wood! 
I also looked at Pacific Northwest Timbers, and found some really cool pieces. Some of their timbers are ocean salvage, that fell off a ship at the turn of the century. This sort of history makes my heart skip a beat, but the price made me want to puke. If money were of no object, I would've absolutely sprung for an ocean salvage timber, given my affinity for all things coastal.
I also cruised EBay and found a beautiful piece of wood from an old distillery and tobacco farm in Kentucky.  Given that I did a brief stint in the South when I was growing up, and am slightly obsessed with all things "still," this would've been a great option if it weren't so expensive.  Again, the "reclaimed" label came with a price. 
In the end, our amazing finish carpenter told us that finish carpentry is something that just pays the bills.  His real passion, as a second generation woodworker, is making furniture by hand.  When he mentioned that he had a timber sitting in his yard under a tarp, I figured that he might have a cost effective solution to our little problem of finding a beautiful timber mantle.  I provided him with a sample of our flooring and he went to work in his shop.  Here's what we ended up with: a beautiful finished timber, custom made, stained to match our floor, and varnished, installed for $700. 

Timber mantle before installation with the bracket on the back

Timber mantle with lots of variations in the wood - look closely and you'll see various knots & bug holes

After installation - the rest of the mantle will be finished in white, shaker style panels that mirror the cabinetry

A shot from afar of the timber mantle installed
What I like most about the mantle is that I know the story behind it and where it came from.  While it's not reclaimed, it's handmade by someone with talent and character - that to me, is priceless!

1 comment:

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