How to Install A Mantel
Rip out and revamp this elaborate molding
The stockings are hung by the chimney, but who cares? That mantel they're strung from is a joke. Its boring profile may have looked pretty festive dressed up on holidays past, but we all know that sagging shelf's barely fit to foot a mug of eggnog. So why not rip it out and get a new one? The chimney is permanent, but the mantel's just a front. It's basically a frame for the fire, an extremely elaborate piece of molding. Sharp, detailed models come in kits that lock together with a few twists of the Phillips-head. To hang them on the wall you simply attach them to a couple of screwed-on pieces of lumber; as This Old House technical editor Mark Powers shows, the whole job takes less than a day.