My mantel is far from super-chic, dressed up like Miss Layla's @ TLC but I think that the transformation from what it was, to what is it now, is the good part.
Last September, the fireplace looked like this:
We ripped the brick off, replaced it with stone-like veneer (i.e. concrete that is formed and tinted to look like real stone) and a new hearth. I added a simple mantel that a distressed and stained and voila! Here it is today:
I still want to add a bit more pizazz to it - add some more color to the items on the mantel or swap out the big black and white frame with colorful art. I still need to add the trim around the stone hearth to hide the gap between the stone and the edge of the wood flooring.
For those of you who are have seen my fireplace already and are bored, thinking "yeah, and?" I have finished my living/dining room curtains! Woo hoo! They are cotton duck on top, a strip of cotton print fabric (from JoAnn Fabrics) and burlap on the bottom.
The top part, I bought 63" long white panels from Target - 15.99 per pair. I cut off the bottom hem part and then sewed the rest of the stuff to the bottom. That way I had already built-in rod-tab thingies (whatever the heck they're called) and I didn't have to sew them myself. Plus, the cost per yard of white cotton sailcloth would have been pretty similar to the cost of the panels already made. A while back, I grabbed 15+ yards of burlap (still on the bolt/roll) from a gal on Craigslist for $15. Score! I knew I'd use it eventually, so I grabbed it a month or two ago.
Overall, burlap is quite stiff. I chose it because it would hide dirt and such at the bottom, and I liked the rustic texture. But it doesn't necessarily drape as well I had hoped. Nonetheless, I am happy with the outcome - around $20 per panel. So, more than just plain 'ol white panels (84" long at Target is only 17.99 per pair), but I think they look a little more fun than just plain white.