You may remember, just before Christmas last year, Steve and I rescued a 1920s-ish window head. I found it in rough shape at the Chartreuse barn sale in Thomasville, North Carolina. Though I wasn’t looking for a piece like this, I knew when I discovered it, it had to go home with me. It is 6 1/2 feet long and very heavy. Recently I decided that whitewashing our crusty salvaged mantel was what I craved.

Here’s what we did to repair the window head to turn it into our mantel:


Small putty knife, screw driver, gloves, protective glasses, N-95 mask, nail gun, crowbar, wood glue, clamps, rags, water bottle, Minwax sanding sealer, paint brush, drill, screws


Wear protection due to the lead paint: eye protection, gloves, and a mask. Keep pets and children out.

Scrape off the loose paint. Dispose of the chips and vacuum the room.


Remove the metal flashing.


Stabilize the piece. Use wood glue and clamps, and nail loose pieces in place.


Spray water on the piece and wipe off the dirt.


Brush on a coat of sealer to cover the old paint and freshen up the old, dry wood. Let dry according to directions.


Measure the inside of the piece and make a cleat that the mantel will sit on top of securely. Place the mantel on top, and screw it into the top of the cleat.

Here’s the finished piece. After decorating it for the holidays I had time to decide if I liked the dark natural wood. And – no – I decided it was just too dark for the room.

So, this week I whitewashed it in just a few minutes.



Water-based primer, or any white flat paint, paintbrush, lidded container, rag, drop cloth or newspapers


In a container add some paint, then add about 1/3 water and mix. Place a drop cloth or newspapers under the mantel.


Brush on some paint. Let dry a few minutes. If it is too thin to get the look you are after, add some more paint to the mix and brush on another coat. Repeat until you like it.

VOILA! Here’s the whitewashed mantel. I can always decide to add more paint since I saved the extra in my lidded container. I could also sand a bit, bit I chose not to.

My goal was to pull together several items: the crusty columns, my accessories and plants, and the mantel which turned a bit silvery.

I moved our kantha with some grey in it from across the room on the opposite matching couch to pull in the grey and added the little bright bowl.

I am much happier now! But, if you know me well, the styling will change often. I just can’t help myself.

What are you up to now that March has finally arrived? I am just excited to see some sun for a change while I continue to pull up carpet in our entire home.

For a peek into our entire living room click here.

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