A Guide to Fireplace Mantels
Fireplace mantels are functional design elements that add character and depth to your room while displaying your unique taste and style. A rustic fireplace mantel can transform a living room. A mantel, whether you choose to have an entire surround or just the shelf mantel, could be just what the interior designer ordered for a dull living room.
Inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, mantels made their debut during the Italian Renaissance in Italy. Fireplaces were commonly accompanied by elaborate columns, pilasters, carved figures and architectural molding. By the advent of the Edwardian era, mantels were streamlined to accommodate more subtle designs. Modern mantel shelves, on the other hand, originated with the use of the high density construction fiberboard.
As for mantel materials, mahogany has always been a popular choice, as well as walnut and elm. Indeed, the materials used for mantel designs vary greatly, ranging from concrete to wood, metal, gypsum, plaster and glass. For a more sophisticated look, many designers prefer a marble and tile frame surrounding a fireplace.
Creating a mantel can be a costly engagement, especially when shopping for a custom-made model. Some cost savings are available for those interested in constructing from a mantel kit, complete with shelves and ornamental designs.
For ready-made models, relatively inexpensive mantles tend to be made from fiberboard, and range from $250-300. Pre-cast concrete and plaster are somewhat costlier, though certainly still affordable for most homeowners. Stone and wood are considerably more expensive, starting at about $700 and reaching several thousand dollars.