Ah, the mantel. Back in 1999, I lived in an apartment that was the first floor of an old house in Millbury, Massachusetts. Stained glass windows, cracked ceilings, sloping hardwood floors---this place was begging to be on PBS's This Old House. The 90 something year old homeowner (a delightful woman named Margaret who had a passion for hounds tooth suits and high heels) lived on the second floor. To get to my apartment, I had to climb a set of exterior stairs since the house was built into a hill. One day I noticed that under the stairs there was a pile of wood. I don't know why I stopped to look at it, but I did. In the pile was two carved wood and plaster fireplace mantels that had obviously been salvaged from another old house at some point but then forgotten. They were absolutely gorgeous, but in severe disrepair. I made a mental note to ask Margaret about them sometime.
Later that week, I ran into Margaret's daughter. She said, "Your boyfriend has a truck, right? Can he get rid of all that old wood under the stairs for us?" I told her sure and asked if we could keep some of it. She looked shocked and said, "Sure, take whatever you want. One of my friends asked to keep it there, but then never came back to get it." So that's how we ended up with not one but two antique mantels.
The Cobbler's mother has "a guy" for everything so she arranged to have both the mantels restored and we used them both at our house in Massachusetts. Today, one is now over our family room fireplace (yes, we carted them both to our current house in our 2004 move) and one was in Tom Thumb's room being used as a head board because his room used to be the guest room.
Yes, you read that right "was in Tom Thumb's room". Past tense because of yesterday. The Cobbler decided that the mantel was too girly to be in a boy's room so he laid out a couple of options.
1. We could sell it. I really didn't want to sell it. When we first got it I had hopes that it would be used in our bedroom, but it never really worked out. I'm still very attached to it. One day in the future I hope we can use it in our room.
2. We could put it in the basement. Unfortunately, when things retire to our basement they are never seen or heard from again.
3. We could convince the kids to swap bedrooms. I thought this idea was a little nuts, but it wasn't feasible to move the mantel into Red's current room because of the location of the baseboard heat.
We ultimately decided on option #3. Believe it or not, he managed to convince both kids that switching bedrooms (and furniture) was a great idea. He didn't want them to change their minds so without delay we switched all their stuff around yesterday morning.
Then, Red approached me and said, "I really want a fairy canopy in my new room. Please mom, my new room won't feel like my room without one." I must be a sucker because off to JoAnn we went. I had an old Simplicity pattern that I had bought years ago when I was planning on making a duvet and shams for my room and that pattern happened to include a canopy too. I copied down the yardages and let her pick everything out. After an afternoon and evening of sewing, here are the results (the mantel that was the cause of the whole crazy day is visible in the background):
And yes, I know I'm a crazy woman who is easily swayed by the smile and pleading eyes of a certain little girl. Last night as we tucked her in at 10PM right after I hot glued on the final flower, Red said, "I sure am lucky that I have a mommy who sews." And I'm lucky to have a daughter who appreciates it.