Rethinking the Fireplace Mantel
It is definitely a trend now to move away from a traditional bricked-in wood burning fireplace and chimney to a more modern and efficient gas-fueled insert. In fact, in several drought-prone western areas, the use of wood-burning fireplaces is restricted depending on weather conditions. Because of fire-danger, the entire state of California has banned wood-burning fireplaces in new construction, and like it or not, other states are considering similar regulations. But there is an upside to this new trend: by rethinking how we fuel our fireplaces, we also get to redesign how they look! The traditional mantel remains traditional no more!
One of my favorite aspects of the new trend is fires no longer have to be grounded to a hearth floor and can be closer to eye level, even incorporated into a furniture-like display wall, as I did on this Gulf Coast master suite, with the fabulous Drew Scott of HGTV’s Bother vs Brother.
I love the floating shelves we installed in the living area of this Galveston waterfront home. Are they shelves? Or is it a mantel? Well, as the designer, I can’t even decide when I look at it, so I like to say it’s both!
Either way, i’m pleased as punch with the way this mantel-not-mantel turned out. Sculptural, yet functional, and the perfect way to make the fireplace the centerpiece and not the TV.
Even in a more traditional environment, I like to keep mantel treatments simple, spare and unusual. For this rustic Colorado Chalet media room, I found the perfect antique wooden railroad-tie, and simply bolted it to the wall, no accessories needed.
In this more formal living room, I still managed to keep the traditional fireplace simple and modern, by matching the stone color and wall paint, so it “disappears”, and then I hung a colorful, modern painting above to draw the eye. Simple, elegant, and again, no accessories needed.
I’ve been so fortunate to be able to work in such diverse styles and all of these “not-traditional” mantels are my babies, so I can’t pick a favorite, but I’d love to hear from you as to which is your favorite and why! Please feel free to leave a comment!