Fireplace Mantels - Styles, Decor and Manufacturers
Styles of fireplace mantel available
There was an athlete who could, it is said, flip backwards off the ground to land balanced on a mantelpiece. He was subsequently offered the crown of Bulgaria (or somewhere), though it is not established whether this was on the merits of his back flips alone.
This party trick is probably the most unusual use of fireplace mantels which, acts of drawing room gymnastics aside, are mainly decorative in purpose. The mantelpiece can be the central feature of a fireplace surround: the focal point of the focal point of the room.
One thing to bear in mind in style terms with fireplace mantels is that less is more. Don't perch as many things as you can on the mantel, and definitely not lots of ornaments. If it's a big fireplace, you could try something dramatic like a couple of soapstone statues or some candles - the main rule is to take a step back, look at your room and try to get the proportions right.
Sometimes mantelpieces are enhanced by keeping them nearly bare and hanging a picture or mirror above - again, look carefully at the proportions and lines of your room to decide what shape and size frame you want.
It's the decoration on the mantel which is one of the best indications of the period of a fireplace - the simplicity of the classical period; the flowing lines and curves of the Louis XV style. With the advent of plate glass in the 19 th century, mirrors - often massive ones - above the fireplace came into vogue (which made a passing French fashion for fireplaces underneath windows a bit confusing - if you were used to seeing your own reflection while you were standing by the fire it could be unnerving to see a passer by instead).
Fireplace mantels can be bought from retailers or respectable antiques dealers and salvage yards. A reproduction period mantel made can be an economical way of finishing off your fireplace. They can be found in a variety of materials including pine, plaster or even fiberglass. Unpainted, carved pine can be a good, understated choice for a mantelpiece. Mahogany was a popular Edwardian choice but is not a very environmentally friendly wood to choose now unless it is stated to come from a sustainable source. If you can find an original, though, it could look great.