Today I am excited to share how I softened up the warmer tones on my 100 year old weathered barn wood fireplace mantel.
If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, I recently shared in my stories that I lightened the warmer wood tones on my weathered barn wood fireplace mantel. I was so surprised at how many of you reached out asking me how I achieved the softer look and decided to share the tips with you!
Since I painted the built-ins last year, I have felt like something still isn’t quite right in this space. I painted the ceilings and walls, but still wasn’t completely happy with the look below.
I love the mushroom color I used on the built-ins and I wasn’t sure about painting them white again, so I started researching homes that used similar colors and the different wood tones that surrounded them.
After doing some research, I quickly realized the tones of my weathered barn wood fireplace mantel were too warm and needed to be softened up quite a bit to compliment the shade of mushroom paint that I used on the built-ins. I decided to try a few different things to achieve the exact shade I hoped for which is pictured below!
Forgive me for the progress shots below, they were all taken with my cell phone since I wasn’t really sure if this would work haha, but here are the steps I used to achieve this look!
Weathered Barn Wood Fireplace Mantel DIY Step 1 – Coarse Grit Sandpaper on Beam
The first method I tried was finding a coarse sandpaper with an abrasive grit. At first I was scared to use sandpaper, but once I started lightly sanding, I realized how warm the tone of the beam actually was.
You can already start to tell the difference on the right side of the beam just after a very light sanding.
But unfortunately, some of the red undertones were still there and I really wanted the beam to have a lighter, more weathered feel.
Weathered Barn Wood Fireplace Mantel DIY Step Two – Whitewash
Next, I tried applying bleach in a small corner of the beam. You can see in the photo below (focus on the top right corner) that the bleach turned the wood pinky orange! I quickly realized that would not work and sanded the bleach off of the area.
Since the bleach didn’t work, I then tried a very small amount of white chalkboard paint. I dipped a paint brush in a tiny bit so just the tips of my bristles were speckled in white. Then I put the brush in a little dish and added water for a milk type consistency, almost like a white wash.
I lightly brushed it over a small area to see what it would look like and grabbed my blow dryer to see the results quickly. I immediately loved the way it looked, it was exactly the tone I was looking for!
After blow drying the first coat, I decided to take it a step further and add more coats. I probably used about three coats overall and honestly you can’t even really tell that the wood has been touched!
I didn’t want the wood to look grey or white, I simply wanted the wood to have a natural weathered look to it without the warmer tones and I am so happy with the results. The culmination of the lighter wood with the mushroom paint is absolutely beautiful to me.
Weathered Barn Wood Fireplace Mantel DIY Step Three – Fine Grit Sandpaper
After whitewashing the beam, I went over it once more very carefully with a very fine grit sandpaper just to make sure there weren’t any spots of paint anywhere and that the tone is even throughout.
Below is the finished product, isn’t it beautiful?!
It’s always so interesting seeing your projects in pictures compared to in person. After seeing the photos I think I might lightly sand a few more areas where the whitewash seems a tiny bit heavy. But other than that, I am very pleased with the direction the fireplace is headed!
You may have noticed in these photos that the wood on both the shelf and bench has been removed, and that’s because they no longer matched my beam after weathering it!
My husband is going to sand down the wood and I am going to try to find a stain that will match the mantel a little better. You can see below that the bench has already been sanded! One project always leads to another. 🙂
I want to end with this – you should never be afraid to make bold moves in your home that reflect your own personal style. Painting my built-ins was a bold move for me but I am so happy I did it. I would have always wondered what they would look like if I hadn’t.
Yes, for quite a while after painting them something wasn’t quite right, but that is exactly what led me to this weathered barn wood fireplace mantel DIY! I hope you love the look as much as I do and would love to hear about your bold home changes in the comments below!