Mesquite Mantels

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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If you'd like a flavor of the American southwest in your home design, you want to look at mesquite mantels. Mesquite is perhaps the most common small tree/shrub of the desert southwest. A deciduous member of no less than the legume (bean) family, mesquite restores nitrogen to the soil. There are three common species--honey, screwbean, and velvet. They make a dramatic addition to any informal decor scheme.

Mesquite has grown very popular in the last 10 years or so as a material for fireplace mantels. As a wood, it is far harder and more durable than mahogany, oak, walnut, cherry, maple, and hickory. It is reddish in tone and highly figured. What better characteristics could you look for in a fireplace that will certainly be an exciting design focal point of your living or family room or den?

Mesquite mantels are typically given a high-gloss finish. The look is heavy, gleaming, and rich. Mesquite wood for mantels is not cut to the artificial rectangular shapes we expect in fireplaces. Instead, it follows the natural and gracefully flowing lines of the tree. Rustic and earthy, with a sense of fresh air and open space, a mantel of mesquite wood might be just what you're looking for.

Design Ideas for Mesquite Mantels

Especially effective over a rough stone hearth, mesquite mantels cannot help but bring a sense of the desert sky, vast cattle ranches, and campfires. Wrought iron fireplace accessories complement mesquite very well indeed. Maybe a stone facing isn't an option for you. Another visually dramatic possibility might be mesquite against rough white plaster, perhaps on heavy wrought iron brackets over a slate hearth.

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