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All Your Fireplace Mantel Questions, Answered

A fireplace mantel is a decorative structure that surrounds the fireplace and adds style and functionality to your home's hearth. It can also serve as a shelf to display decorative items, photos, and keepsakes. Fireplace mantels come in a variety of materials, designs, and styles to suit any home décor. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of fireplace mantels, their benefits, and how to choose the right mantel for your home.

Is a mantel necessary?

A mantel is not technically necessary for a functioning fireplace, but it makes the fireplace look better, and serves as a decorative focal point. Mantels can be used to display, and add a touch of style and elegance to a room. Additionally, a mantel can provide a convenient surface for holding and storing things like books.

If you're unsure whether a mantel is right for your home, you may want to consider the style of your home and the design elements that are already in place, and consult with a professional designer for advice. Click here to talk to one of our custom design consultants about the possibilities for your mantel. 

How do I choose the right fireplace mantel?

Measure Your Fireplace - Before purchasing a fireplace mantel, it is important to measure the area around your fireplace to ensure that the mantel you choose will fit properly. You should also consider the height of the mantel in relation to the height of the fireplace itself. Check your local building code to ensure you install the mantel with enough clearance above the fire box.

 Consider Your Home's Décor Style - Fireplace mantels come in a variety of styles and designs, so it is important to choose one that complements your home's décor style. Whether you prefer a more traditional or modern look, there is a mantel to suit your taste.

Choose the Right Material - Fireplace mantels are available in a variety of materials, including wood, stone, brick, and cast stone. Consider the durability and longevity of each material, as well as your budget, when choosing the right one for your home.

  1. Wood Fireplace Mantels - Wood mantels are a classic choice for homeowners who want to add a warm and inviting touch to their fireplace. They come in a variety of wood species, and can be stained or painted to match your décor.
  2. Stone Mantels: Stone mantels are a durable and long-lasting option. They can be made from natural stone, such as marble or granite, or from manufactured stone, such as cast stone or veneer.
  3. Cast Stone Mantels: Cast stone mantels are made from a mixture of concrete and other materials. They offer the look and feel of natural stone, but are more affordable and easier to install.
  4. Marble Mantels: Marble mantels are a classic and elegant choice. They can be carved into a variety of styles, from classic and traditional to contemporary and modern.
  5. Metal Mantels: Metal mantels, such as iron or steel, are a modern and contemporary option. They are durable, easy to clean, and can be finished in a variety of colors.

Where to place the mantel over the fireplace?

White Oak Fireplace Mantel on living room

The placement of a mantel over a fireplace will depend on several factors, including the height of the ceiling, the size of the fireplace, and the design of the room. In general, the top of the mantel should be centered over the firebox, which is the opening in the fireplace where the fire is built. The mantel should also be securely attached to the wall, which means it will need to be anchored into at least two studs minimum.

In terms of height, mantels are typically installed anywhere from 60 to 72 inches above the floor. If you have high ceilings, you may choose to install the mantel higher, while if you have lower ceilings, you may prefer to place it closer to the fireplace. While local building codes differ, aim to place the mantel at least 12 inches above the fireplace, plus one inch of additional clearance for each inch that the mantel will project out from the wall. So if your mantel is 6 inches deep, it should be installed at least 18 inches above the firebox. 

It's also important to consider the proportions. A mantel that is too small for the fireplace can look out of balance, while a mantel that is too large can overpower the fireplace and the room. Don't be tempted to settle for a cookie-cutter mantel--find one that honors the proportions of your unique space. 

Ultimately, the placement of a mantel over a fireplace should be guided by your personal style and the design of the room, as well as safety considerations.

What are some mantel décor ideas?

There are many ways to decorate a fireplace mantel, and the best approach will depend on your personal style and the design of your room. Here are some mantel décor ideas to help you get started:

  • Symmetry: Creating a balanced and symmetrical look is a classic approach to mantel decorating. Place matching objects, such as vases or candles, on either side of the center of the mantel.
  • Height: Using objects of varying heights can add interest and depth to your mantel display. Place taller items, such as a vase or a lamp, in the center of the mantel, and arrange smaller items, such as candles or books, around it.
  • Seasonal decorations: Consider changing your mantel decorations to reflect the seasons. For example, you could use evergreen garlands in the winter, flowers in the spring, and autumn leaves in the fall.
  • Family photos: Personalize your mantel by displaying family photos in frames of varying sizes. You could also display other personal mementos, such as family heirlooms or souvenirs from your travels.
  • Artwork: Consider hanging a piece of art above the mantel, or displaying smaller artwork, such as prints or drawings, on the mantel itself.
  • Books: Stack a few of your favorite books on the mantel for a cozy, lived-in look.
  • Candles: Adding candles to your mantel display can create a warm, inviting atmosphere in the room. Use different sizes and shapes of candles for added interest. Make sure that any candlesticks or pillars have dishes underneath to catch hot wax!
  • Mirrors: Adding a mirror above the mantel is a classic choice and helps the room look larger and more inviting.

Remember, there are no hard-and-fast rules for decorating a fireplace mantel. The key is to choose items that you love and that reflect your personal style. Experiment with different arrangements until you find a look that you love.

How are fireplace mantels made at RealCraft?

RealCraft mantel is made on site in Gig Harbor, Washington by our expert artisan woodworkers. Our mantels are made out of solid wood planks, carefully fitted to ensure beautiful alignment of the natural wood grain. We also use a French cleat system to attach the mantel to the wall. This French cleat is a piece of wood that is cut to slot together with the mantel when it is placed on top. Not only does this ensure a secure connection, it also means that taking the mantel off the wall (if you need to move, for instance) is simple. To install the mantel, all you'll need to do is attach the French cleat to the wall and slide the mantel into place on top of it. 

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