Beneath the Paint

There it was covered with dark brown paint. I noticed it as soon as I drove into the crowded antique fair. A mantel.

A man with a toothless grin had a few items for sale spread out on a patch of grass, but nothing near as grand as the mantel standing there. The fact that it was indeed standing by itself was a bonus since so many vintage mantels are taken off the original base and have to be attached or leaned against a wall. But not this one. It was connected to a black base and had the tin surround still intact. Painted muddy brown, it certainly wasn’t attractive, but I couldn’t believe that any of the hundreds of shoppers at the fair would have been deterred by an ugly coat of paint. I figured it must be expensive for everyone to have passed it by.

I asked the man how much he wanted for it and he said $140. I thought the price was good but asked him if that was his best price and he said he’d take $80. Sold! We loaded it into my sister’s Jeep with just an inch to spare on either side. I felt like I had just won the best prize at the fair.

I think a mantel can be the centerpiece of a room. Along with adding charm, it offers display options for candles, pictures, mirrors or books. Just about anything can be showcased on a mantel.

With my mother’s help, I stripped off the coats of brown paint, then cream paint, down to the original wood. It was a tedious process, loosening the paint with liquid remover, then peeling it off with paint scrapers. But when we got to the area just above the surround, we noticed that under the paint were flecks of gold mixed with the black to imitate the look of marble. Carefully removing the brown, we kept most of the gold highlights intact and gave the rest of the mantel a fresh coat of white paint.

Who knew there was a pretty pattern waiting to be uncovered beneath that dreary brown exterior? Instead of uncovering flaws concealed by paint, the good stuff was underneath.

What treasures are waiting to be uncovered in your life? Do you have dreams you keep to yourself, tucked away in your heart in case others make light of them or don’t take them seriously? Maybe an untapped talent is lurking below the surface, lying dormant because you don’t have time for it.

Although my work in communications revolves around writing, writing a blog is new for me. Taking photos for my blog is new. But I find myself looking at opportunities and challenges through a new lens (pun intended!). I reflect on blog post topics and think about staging photographs. It feels rejuvenating to pursue a new interest. It’s fresh, creative, invigorating.

I’m wondering if there are other plans for my life waiting to be uncovered. Layer by layer the paint is continuing to flake off and peel away to reveal an unexpected design. The canvas is stretched. The tints, stains and pigments are mixed. The artist is painting the story of my life. I am a representation of his image. An original masterpiece in the making.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10


  1. I love the concept of something beautiful being revealed beneath outter layers. It's good to be reminded to look further to see hidden value. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Thank you, Christy! I love the idea, too, that so much of what we think is not valuable or worth anything can be made into something beautiful -- whether it's objects or talents!

  2. I love that idea, you are improving my decorating sense already! :-)

  3. Brittany,
    Your eye for photographs has you well on your way to decorating with style! You are a joy to know! :)

  4. I love your stories about antiques -- you should have your own show! :)

  5. Hmmm...I wonder what is beneath my (many!) layers of old paint...


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