The fireplace is often the focal point of a room. A good fireplace mantle can dramatically alter and add to the appearance of that focal point. It's like finding the perfect frame for a picture. In fact, with fireplace mantles, the frame is often more important than the picture it surrounds. An attractive mantle will help the fireplace add to the value of your home.
Years ago, mantles were simple affairs. They were made of high-density fiberboard and were deep enough that you could store a few pictures or knick-knacks on them. Today, mantles are often constructed of quality hardwoods such as mahogany, cherry, and oak. Or they can be constructed of brick or of stone such as granite, limestone, or marble.
You don't have to go all out, though. If you haven't got a mantle at all, you may just be looking for something simple and understated. An unfinished mantle can be had for as little as $150. Paint it any color you like or use stain or lacquer to bring out the beauty of the wood.
If you do want to go all out, a stone mantle may be the way to do it. A black marble with gold filigree can make a bold, stylish statement. For a more rustic, "country" look, granite may be the way to go. Leave it rough hewn for an added effect. Limestone is also a beautiful, but costly option.
To reduce the cost but still have the look of stone, go with a cast stone mantle. "Cast stone" is made from pre-cast concrete with stone dust mixed in. It looks and feels just like the real thing. Only a trained specialists will be able to tell the difference. However, don't get too cheap. Lower quality cast stone can scorch, ruining its look. Get a higher quality to make sure it's fireproof and durable.
In addition to being decorative in its own right, a fireplace mantle affords opportunities for extending the decoration in your home. On the shelf itself, you can place whatever you think might look charming in a fireplace setting. A simple row of candles can take the fire theme from down below and extend it to up above. Throw in some potpourri to waft a pleasant aroma into the room.
A mantle makes an ideal place to put pictures of your family and friends. The fireplace is not only a focal point, it's a natural gathering point. Guests love to stand in front of the fire and inspect what's on the mantle. Pictures in framed stands are an ideal way to accommodate them. Your own arts and crafts can look nice there as well. Embroidery and needlepoint give a homey feel that is complemented by the presence of the hearth. Crystal decorations, porcelain figurines, and artificial flowers also provide a nice look.
Above the mantle is the perfect place to put a painting. Make sure it's large enough to be dramatic rather than looking dwarfed by its surroundings. A large wreath can also look appropriate in this space. But perhaps best of all is a mirror. A mirror can add depth to any room. And if you hang it low enough, it can show off the back sides of whatever art objects you've placed on the mantle itself.
Fireplace mantles are also a specialty item. Although they are easier to install than a fireplace, they still require some skill in installation. Often these are sold by local distributors who can assist in the installation process. Below, we have listed some places that carry a large line of fireplace mantles.
Mantles Direct: Online retailer offering a variety of wood mantles, stone mantles, and marble mantles.
Mantel Paradise: Sells different types of mantles. You can browse by style ranging from statuary, french, american, roman, and modern.