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DIY French Country Mantel Art

This DIY French Country mantel art is one of my favorite makeovers to date.

The transformation is crazy drastic!

And after almost 11 years of struggling to decorate our mantel, I’m thankful we’ve finally found a solution.

How It All Began…

Recently, one of my sweet aunts sent me a picture of a beautiful urn she planned to use as a centerpiece and asked if it could be painted silver.

These are some of my favorite calls or texts to receive because I love being part of any makeover no matter how big or small.

In fact, nothing gives me greater pleasure than encouraging women of all skill levels to create a home they love.

And spray-painted projects like a decorative urn are great places to start building confidence.

Truthfully, the detailing on the urn was pretty fabulous.  I knew almost instantly it could be saved from the donate pile.

After offering a few painting tips and tricks, I reminded my aunt she didn’t have anything to lose by trying to upcycle the urn. 

After all, she was going to take it to the charity shop anyway. 

It’s a piece of advice I give a lot when people who are scared they might “mess up” reach out with an idea. 

Taking a Chance…

Shortly after our exchange, I started thinking about a specific piece of decorative wall art my Mom had given me several months ago.

It was also headed for the charity shop.

At the time, I thought I might be able to save it, so I took it off her hands.

For almost 6 months, it sat in a corner untouched because I didn’t want to mess it up or have my Mom be disappointed in the result.

Looking back, it seems silly to even think that way.  

But fear and doubt have such a sneaky way of creeping into your thoughts sometimes.

Even when it comes to decorating and creating a home you love.

And while this post is more about the makeover process than an actual tutorial, I hope you’ll be able to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way too. 

As you can see from the pictures above this decorative wall art has great bones. 

What you can’t see is how heavy it is. 

I mean, it’s a total beast. 

But I’ve wanted something super neutral on our mantel for years. The size of this wall art was the perfect height and width. 

The only problem was that it was way too dark for our light and airy cottage home.

This is how the mantel art looked at Bliss Barracks before the makeover. 

Creating DIY French Country Mantel Art with Paint and Wax…

My first step in creating DIY French Country mantel art was to paint the inside trim in New Concrete.

It’s one of my favorite shades of gray by Valspar because it’s neutral and goes with almost anything. 

You may remember I painted the hutch in my office in the same color.

Next, I decided to give the decorative frame on the inside a layered look. So, I started with a creamy white base,

followed a layer of dark furniture paste wax. 

While the wax was still tacky, I rubbed a bit of Americana Décor Chalky Finish Paint in Yesteryear (a blue-ish gray color) directly into the wax.

It’s a technique I’ve been trying to perfect for a while now.

It gives such a pretty layered and patinaed look to pieces that have been distressed and have lots of decorative detail.

And bonus, it’s just what this DIY French Country mantel art needed.

Once the metal trim was dry, I painted the inside of each panel a creamy white carefully leaving the original distressing intact.

I’ll be honest this was the hardest part of the entire makeover because I knew there would be no going back.

Thankfully, it turned out ok.

I painted the rim of DIY French Country mantel art in Valspar’s Faint Maple.

It’s a pretty color that looks similar to European Oak once you’ve sealed it with dark furniture paste wax. 

Adding the Plaster Flower Wall Plaques…

The next morning, I attached a DIY plaster flower wall plaque to each panel with Liquid Nails. 

I won’t go into all the details, but for the sake of full disclosure, there was a major mishap when we went to move this DIY French Country mantel art into the living room.

Just take it from us, if you’re trying something similar, you’ll want to allow decorative pieces like plaster plaques to fully adhere for at least 48-72 hours minimum ?

DIY French Country Mantel Art Reveal…

Despite the mishap, I’m excited about the way everything came together. 

The DIY French Country mantel art adds a pop of color to the living room. Yet doesn’t take away from the bookcases my Dad built.

It also doesn’t compete with the stacked stone in the fireplace which I was nervous about too.

I still want to move a few things around before I do a final reveal of the living room. 

Things are definitely starting to come together though. Here’s one more look at the before shot…

For now, I’m just going to stand at the kitchen sink looking into the living room grateful this space is one step closer to being completed thanks to this DIY French Country mantel art and the gentle nudge that all started it all.

Let us know if you’ve made any DIY French Country mantel art lately or if you’ve been too scared to mess up a piece it sat in the corner for months!

Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,


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    1. Thank you so much, Rachel, I really appreciate it. Hugs for a happy week, CoCo

  1. Coco,

    This is a great makeover! I love the paint treatment you used too. It’s fun playing with different techniques isn’t it?

    The plaques are pretty and you have a masterpiece. You go girl.



    1. Thank you so much, Cindy! Sometimes things do not turn out in real like they do in my head ? but after all those months of waiting on perfect, I’m glad I finally took the chance. It really does add a fun pop of color to the living room. Fingers crossed I’ll find even more goodies to paint so I can finally get the garage to a manageable state ? Sending you big hugs, CoCo

  2. Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces says:

    Wow, this turned out so great, CoCo! So smart to look at a piece for what it could be, instead of what it is. And if it’s a piece that doesn’t work in your home, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And gain you did…it’s beautiful!

    1. You are so sweet, Linda, thank you! I have no idea why I even hesitated to paint this piece in the first place but I’m thankful I decided to take a chance on it. Plus, it’s so neutral it will be really nice not to have to reinvent the wheel every holiday season trying to decorate the mantel. Because you know how I feel about easy livin’ ? Sending you lots of warm hugs. I hope you guys are staying nice and toasty, CoCo

  3. Looks nice! I think for my taste I would prefer the outer frame also in New Concrete, but that’s just me. For those of use who don’t want to go the cast plaster plaques route, ReDesign by Prima transfers would be a great option for DI Y French wall art!
    Thanks for sharing. I love following creative minds for inspiration!

    1. New Concrete would look great as a frame color too, Susan! It’s a really pretty and neutral gray. I’ve never heard of ReDesign by Prima transfers so I’m excited to look them up and learn more about them. Thanks so much for passing it along. I’m always thankful to be surrounded by creative people too. They make the world a richer place to live in. Hope your day has been a happy one, CoCo

  4. The before and after photos of your mantel art makeover are really stunning. This piece really did receive a gorgeous upgrade because you were willing to take a risk!

    1. The transformation was so crazy, Heidi! I can’t believe I put it off for so long worried I was going to mess it up or have it not turn out well. It definitely took a hot minute but it was totally worth the effort. I’m looking for all kinds of things to paint now 🙂 Hope your week is a happy one, CoCo

    1. Thanks so much, Caleb, I really appreciate it!

  5. What a gorgeous piece of mantel art, CoCo! I love the gorgeous neutral shade now – it fits your space perfectly! And I love reading about your process – I am definitely one of those people who wants to have a go but is too scared to mess things up!!

    1. So sweet of you to say, Katerina, thank you! It is really common for people to have doubts before they start painting or giving something a makeover. Even after all these years I still feel that way sometimes. I’m always thankful when I take a chance though and I hope you’ll feel that way soon too. Hugs, CoCo

  6. I think it looks so much better and brighter! Great job!

    1. Thank you, Cheryl! I really appreciate it. I’m definitely thankful I took a chance on it. Hope you’ve had a great week so far, CoCo

  7. what a fabulous Frenchy transformation! Those plaques are just gorgeous. Love the patina and how it looks on your mantel. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. xo Kathleen

    1. Thanks so much, Kathleen, I really appreciate it! Big hugs, CoCo

  8. Coco, this piece has huge patina. Something I’m always looking to add to my own décor.
    I’m taking notes on how you did it so I can upcycle something in the future.
    And will remember about allowing it to dry thoroughly 😉
    Thanks for adding your pretty crafts to the the Friday with Friends link party 🙂

    1. Oh my word, Rachelle! I wish you could have seen our faces when those floral wall plaque accents fell off the mantel art. It was bananas! I could not believe it! Thankfully it all worked out but my heart was definitely skipping extra beats that day and I would hate for anyone else to experience that kind of DIY drama ? Hugs for a happy week, CoCo

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