specialties

Mantels & Fireplaces: Finding the Right One

Because the mantel is the primary focus of any room, selecting the one that's "just right" is a critical design decision.

Click here for a list of suppliers of authentic period-style mantels
Click here for a list of suppliers of traditional fireplaces
Click here for a list of suppliers of traditional fireplace tile

It's hard to over-emphasize the importance of a mantel and fireplace in a room setting. Many architects and interior designers start a room design by selecting the mantel first and then design the rest of the room around it. Because of the mystical power still generated by hearth and fire, it's difficult for any mantel not to become the focal point of a room. As a result, it's worth taking the time to make a thorough survey of the market to make sure you select that mantel and associated fireplace that's just right for the space you're designing.

NEW VS. ANTIQUE
Because mantels are so important -- and pricey -- they are among the most common items you'll find at architectural antique dealers. If you're looking for an especially ornate, high-quality mantel, it's quite possible you're more likely to find what you want as an antique (if so, see this list of architectural salvage dealers). If a simpler mantel with clean, straight lines is what you're after, buying a new mantel will probably be the better course.

MATERIAL
In addition to new vs. antique, you also have a wide range of mantel materials to choose from: marble, cast stone, plain wood painted, plain wood natural finish, fieldstone, carved wood, cast iron, gypsum-plaster, carved stone and more. The choice of material contributes to the style and tone of the room.

ARCHITECTURAL STYLE
The style of mantel you select can make a room feel like a medieval baronial hall, an elegant French salon or a rustic Adirondack cabin. No single choice is right; the most important thing is that the rest of the architectural ornament and room decoration reinforce the style and tone set by the mantel and fireplace.

Click here for a list of suppliers of authentic period-style mantels
Click here for a list of suppliers of traditional fireplaces
Click here for a list of suppliers of traditional fireplace tile