Oak Fireplace Mantels

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Oak fireplace mantels are astonishingly wide in their variety. At one end of the scale are the rough-hewn beams jutting out from the stone of an old upcountry farmhouse. At the other end are the elegantly carved surrounds in the city house of a late 19th century Boston merchant. Oak is an adaptable wood. If you want to emphasize a rustic decor, oak fireplace mantels are one way to achieve it. The country cottage style so popular today also does well with oak.

No matter what the style or period, oak fireplace mantels offer the same design pluses of any fireplace. Since the first were carved from the stone of medieval castle walls, fireplaces have been the focal point of indoor life. In the beginning, of course, this was because they provided warmth and were the center of cooking.

Decorating Oak Fireplace Mantels

We generally use fireplaces for only several months of the year. The rest of the time they stand idle. Using the fireplace as a design element is very rewarding. After all, what better place to display your collection of brasses than along oak fireplace mantels or hearths?

Candle groupings are also effective as a way to dramatize an otherwise empty hearth during the summer. Flower arrangements--whether fresh, silk, or dried--are especially attractive both on the mantel and in the firebox. Fireplace accessories go a long way in complementing oak. You might prefer polished brass to wrought iron, or the reverse. One of the strengths of oak as a material is the different ways it can be "interpreted" in interior design. Be creative!

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