Fireplace Mantels

Written by Robert Mac
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Fireplace mantels are the shelves above the actual fireplace, connecting the pilasters and overhanging the fire itself. Also called mantelpieces or chimneypieces, they are generally reserved for special photos and other personal memorabilia. Traditionally, they are the focal point of the fireplace unless, of course, a fire is currently burning--fire has been the symbolic center of rooms since we mastered it eons ago. Now, that duty belongs to the fireplace.

There are a variety of fireplace mantels to select from, each one complementing the rest of the fireplace, particularly the pilasters and frieze. Traditional fireplace mantels are of the pedestal design; they create a larger surface area for the shelf and have a more classical feel. The greater the overhang on the sides and front of the fireplace, the greater the pedestal effect.

More current designs aren't as dramatic as multi-tiered pedestals. They have a slight overhang to highlight other design elements. A Mission-style mantel, for example, is subtler, to draw your attention to its detailed craftsmanship. Other mantels emphasize the fine woods or other decorations used in their designs.

Fireplace Mantels That Aren't

Some fireplaces have mantels that really don't even look like mantels. Rather than appearing to be a shelf that covers the fireplace, they appear much more modular--rather than a series of parts, it's a unified whole. Sleek and streamlined, these elegant contemporary models create an air of sophistication in your home.


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