We looked for an antique mantel but had no luck so I decided to build one. Made from 3/4 x 6 birch boards, the spindles and carved panels were bought items. The tiles are antiques from Ebay. It's a modular assembly for easy installation, the tile surround is one piece, left and right pillars are separate and the mantel pegs into the top of the pillars. I ran audio/video wires through the inside of the pillars and cross piece to allow hookup between our TV and stereo which are on opposite sides of the fireplace. Used oil based gel stain and water based varnish. It's about 6 feet wide and 5 feet high overall. Couldn't do it without my Jet ProShop tablesaw and Dewalt mitre saw. The Freud Glueline Rip blade is magic too. Material cost was around $300.
Time to Build: 101-300 Hours