The fireplace had been through a couple stages of upgrade before I met the homeowners. The original brick fireplace had been updated to gas and was given a veneer of slate tile prior to their purchase of the home, but the mantle and fireplace surround were left bare. After moving into the home, they picked up a nice live edge black walnut slab from Urban Lumber, and they mounted the slab with the idea that it would be part of the final design. Though the mantle was temporary, they got the most out of it. I first met clients in October and it was decorated for Halloween. They already were gravitating towards a craftsman styled fireplace, and when I returned in November to go over the first round of designs, the mantle was decorated for Thanksgiving. We further refined the design and looked at wood samples in December, with Christmas stockings hung (by the chimney with care). They took the President's Day holiday off. The final design was based on something they had found online, and it incorporated craftsman themes that would play well with the existing slate tile. We realized early in the process that the black walnut slab was a bit too short for this mantle (and it was subsequently used as a shelf above a coat rack in the entryway); and locally harvested white oak seemed the perfect choice because it takes stain well and would tie in with other similarly styled furnishings in the living room. The quarter-sawn white oak was treated with a wood dye process followed by a coat of stain to achieve a color similar to the diamond-shaped accent tiles. End grain black walnut plugs provide a bit of subtle geometry to the piece, and a shadow line below the mantle top adds levity (and hidden in the shadow is a groove to hang decorations for the next holiday).