Wood for fireplace mantel
If a kitchen remodel wasn't enough, I want to redo our fireplace. I don't like the existing tile around it and hate the boxy drywalled mantel shelf. So, I came up with a design for a wood mantel that gives more of a Craftsman style feel to our house.
We'd paint the mantel white to match the cabinetry in the niches on either side of the fireplace. The hearth will be a soapstone slab and surround the fireplace with soapstone tiles. I thought that I might also inlay some soapstone into the mantel itself. The width of the design is constrained by the niches on either side; otherwise, I would expand it to make room for more tile on the sides of the fireplace.
My question, is what would be a good wood to use? I hear that poplar is easy to work with and paints well, but I am open to suggestions.
Any feedback on the design as well, would be appreciated.