We have been working on our mantel for years. Literally.
This is what our fireplace looked like when we moved in...after we pulled up carpet...and had painted some. It was like a trapezoidal bronze mess. We're not fans of trapezoidal bronze messes. So we demoed.
I am sometimes a ridiculous optimist. Make that delusional. I thought or knew rather that some gorgeous gem would be hiding underneath the trapezoidal bronze mess. But that wasn't the case. The original fireplace and surround, which most likely was a gorgeous gem, had been bricked and mortared over AND the flue open and close lever had been adapted so that it fit the trapezoidal bronze mess. We didn't have the courage to have the flue mechanism redone nor the stamina to tear down bricks and mortar when we didn't have a guarantee of a gorgeous gem underneath.
About three years passed during which we just ignored the gaping hole around the naked fireplace.
Then we got serious about trying to sell our house and finding one that's more accessible for Little Miss.
I found a basic mantel design online that we could kinda copy and that would fit the rest of the house. Daniel liked it and sketched up a design.
Then he went crazy on the fireplace and it was a beautiful thing. Regardless of whether or not there was a real time crunch, we felt one. So Daniel, our type A craftsman, did type A craftsman caliber work on a time crunch in a house without a level surface. He built the new mantel piece by piece.
Daniel is a time-lapse picture kinda guy. He has probably hundreds of still frames that show the mantel's progress. And then I got involved and-poof! the time-lapse stopped. So we have minute details and then the big shebang.
My husband is a wizard.