American Farmhouse Style
Blogger Amanda Vernaci created her built-in fireplace specifically with Christmas in mind, so she can display her Christmas décor and holiday wreaths. Here’s how you can recreate these built-ins for less than $600.
• 10 shiplap boards, 6-inch x 8-foot
• 2 IKEA Billy bookcases with doors
• 2 IKEA Billy bookcase extensions (as needed, based on your ceiling height)
• 4 pine boards, 1 x 2 x 8 feet
• 1 gallon primer (used here: Zinsser B-I-N)
• Crown molding
• Baseboard molding
• 11⁄16 x 11⁄16-inch pine cove molding
• 1-gallon white semi-gloss paint (used here: Sherwin Williams emerald urethane trim enamel in pure white)
• Stain (used here: one coat Provincial and one coat Antique White)
• Brad nailer
• Measuring tape
• Miter saw
• Wood Filler
WHAT YOU’LL DO:
1. Prep. Give the walls a good cleaning. Strip the paint or stain from the existing mantel and surround and clean that as well. Remove baseboards the length of the new bookshelves and clean those as well. If you’re adding shiplap to the ceiling, remove any exiting crown molding the length of the fireplace hearth.
2. Mark the studs. It’s important to mark your studs if you plan to hang a TV or anything else heavy, as they become difficult to find once the shiplap is in place. Also, double check all your measurements at this time.
3. Install the shiplap. Cut your shiplap boards the same length as the hearth, then install them top to bottom using the brad nailer.
4. Build the bookcases. Build the bookcases and extenders according to the instructions. You may or may not need extenders, depending on your ceiling height. After assembling, secure them to the studs in the wall so they don’t tip over.
5. Add baseboards. You can use the baseboard trim that was there previously. Cut 45-degree mitered edges and fit it around the bottom of your bookcase. You may need to buy more length to cover the sides as well as the front.
6. Add trim. Add trim to the bookshelves with the 1×2 pine boards. Attach them to the face of the cabinet, around the outside openings as well as over the fronts of the shelves. This helps to create a custom look. For the shelves, make sure any extra length on the 1x2 boards hangs down lower than the shelf so you can still slide books in.
7. Add molding. Add your crown molding to the top of the shelves and around the edges so it’s flush with the ceiling.
8. Wood fill and sand. Once all the trim and molding are in place, fill all the adjustable shelving holes with wood filler and let them dry. Fill any other holes left by the brad nailer as well. Then sand the entire surface smooth.
9. Caulk. Caulk all the edges and seams so there aren’t any gaps. Make sure you use paintable caulk.
10. Prime and paint. For painting IKEA furniture, Amanda recommends using two coats of Zinsser B-I-N primer, followed by Sherwin Williams emerald urethane trim enamel paint. Then use the top coat in the color of your choice.
11. Attach the doors. Last, attach the bookshelf doors. If desired, add new hardware of your choice to fit your farmhouse aesthetic.
Christmas is one of the holidays that can be as bold or as subtle as you want. Amanda prefers to go with a more subdued approach that leaves her home feeling like a peaceful, glistening, winter wonderland. “My mom loves the reds and greens of Christmas,” Amanda says, “but I’ve always been more of a neutral person. I’ve never been a bright colors person.” To stay true to her style, this means Amanda’s Christmas décor follows a color scheme of silver, cream, beige and gold, with additions of sparkles and twinkle lights for a bit of extra magic. “My mom comes over and asks where all the red and greens are, but this is what feels to me the most like Christmas, it’s a winter wonderland,” Amanda says.
• DEDICATE SPACE. Organization is key. Dedicate a specific space in your attic, basement, closet or wherever else you choose, to store your swapped décor. This keeps the process streamlined and avoids unnecessary clutter.
• TAKE PHOTOS. You may think you know where everything goes, but it’s all too easy to forget and find yourself wondering just where that piece of artwork belongs. Take Amanda’s advice and photograph your everyday décor before swapping it out for Christmas. Then do the same when you put your Christmas decorations away. If you have a photo for reference, it will make the process easier.
• GO-TO SWAPS. Amanda’s top swap items include artwork and prints, small décor accents on shelving and dishware.
• GARLANDS GALORE. Lastly, add fresh garlands wherever possible. “The more greenery you can add to every space, the better,” says Amanda. You don’t have to store fresh greens from year to year. And to add to the charm, follow Amanda’s lead and add battery-operated lights to your garlands to render that Christmas ambiance.
“I want my home to me, of my style."
" It's the small details that
Amanda’s everyday neutral color scheme extends to her Christmas atmosphere. For her Christmas decorations, she loves to primarily use items like mercury glass, twinkle lights and greenery. Though her approach to seasonal décor is simple, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of decoration. Each room of the house boasts something Christmas, whether it’s a miniature tree, wreath or lights. “I try to incorporate [Christmas] into every room,” Amanda says.
Simplicity is key to Amanda. Rather than big, colorful pieces, she prefers smaller touches. “It’s the small details that really make a difference,” she says. “I enter a room and think, what are the small things that will make it feel like Christmas?” Typically, this leads her to swap out her everyday décor. Amanda often exchanges framed artwork, centerpieces and other small accents. The holiday season is about focusing on what’s important. It’s a time to spend with family and loved ones, connecting in ways we often forget throughout the rest of the year. This is also the foundational principle Amanda uses when it comes to her home projects and home décor. “My biggest takeaway for anyone would be to stay true to you,” she says. “I want my home to be a reflection of me, of my style.”