One of my favorite projects in the past 10 years is this fireplace mantel project with two benches. The homeowner had a designer sketch this and it was my job to interpret the artwork into a plan to build, and estimate the project. The project cost just for the woodwork on the fireplace wall many years ago was approximately $6500.
As a craftsman, I like a good challenge to create a one of a kind piece for a homeowner who truly appreciates awesome work. All of this was handcrafted on-site. If you notice some details, you won’t find the typical trim work along the brick work as if you would if the cabinet was built off-site. Everything matches all the in’s and out’s of the brick, and various other things along the yellow flagstone floor.
The mantel and fireplace wall did not present much of a challenge, but when it came to building the two benches with seat tops that open up, and the arches above, that is where I had to learn something new. In order to pull off bending solid pieces of wood, I went down to the woodworking store to watch a video on how to build a steam box. I went back to the shop and built my own steam box in order to have the permanently bent pieces of wood for the next day’s fabrication.
Included in my work was two recessed lights, hidden electrical and computer wiring, so one could sit back in the niches and be on their laptop. After the woodwork and painting was completed, the owner’s designer finished the bench tops out with two plush cushions, oil painting’s of their kids above the benches and fireplace mantel.
I also replaced a 1×6 paint grade wood plank ceiling that had 1/4″ beveled edges that you typically find at Home Depot with a 1x 6 clear pine stain grade wood that the homeowner asked me to personally bevel the edges with a small hand planer to 1/16″ so it would look like 1/8″ when two boards are together. I left the original ceiling in place because the old boards laid on top of the beams and the new pieces were fit in-between the beams so close it either scraping the clear coat on the beams or within 1/32″ and I had to follow the curves of the beams, changing each pieces about 1/4 of 1 degree. If I remember correctly the ceiling woodwork and the custom made base boards cost about $4500. Just the clear pine wood was about $900 in materials.
So why all the tight specifications? That is what the homeowner specifically asked for and I was the person for the job. And wouldn’t you like it to look original in your house and not have trim like the less skilled, lower priced contractors use? Some people wouldn’t notice, but when you truly have, and pay for a craftsman to be in your home, these are some of the carefully planned details you can come to expect.