A fireplace typically adds so much more than just warmth. As the central gathering place, the fireplace is often the focal point of any room. But, unfortunately, we're not always lucky enough to have one.
The architectural flair of a fireplace is really what sets it apart from anything else in the room. But it is the mantelpiece in particular that stands out as the true "eye-catcher." So, one way to give your room a sense of oomph is to simply add a mantelpiece to any wall you choose.
There are a number of options at your disposal. Our preference is to recycle old materials. You might be shocked to find that in your own city there are construction scrap yards that are a literal dumping ground of all sorts of treasures. Now, don't worry - we're not telling you to go "dumpster diving." However, what we do want to get across is that these "salvage" yards are often filled with gorgeous pieces including used mantelpieces that with just a bit of effort can be cleaned up and made to be the perfect addition to any room of your home.
This is where we want you to use a little imagination as well. In a typical salvage yard, you may not be able to find the "perfect" mantelpiece or any mantelpiece for that matter -- so think outside the box a bit. If you find two arches or carved brackets, you can recreate the look of a mantelpiece with just a little creative juice. By joining the two pieces together as a single arch by mounting them on your wall, you can get the effect of a truly one-of-a-kind mantelpiece.
Another option is to purchase a new, pre-fabricated mantelpiece. This is usually a pre-built "frame" for your wall that you can simply purchase then adhere to the wall. You have your choice of stone, marble, wood or you can often find "faux" mantelpieces that are made of much lighter materials such as plaster or plastic. You can paint, faux finish, or stain as desired. Here are a few pre-fabricated mantel ideas:
Remember that when shopping for your mantelpiece, it's important to consider the size of the room you're going to be placing it in. "Scale" is an important concept with a fireplace. That is, how large is the fireplace in proportion to the rest of the room. Is it a large room with high ceilings? Consider going with an oversized mantel for added drama. If it's a small room, be aware of the proportion of the fireplace and how much of a focal point you want it to be. In addition to the look and style you wish to achieve, have your measurements written down PRIOR to going out to shop. Trust us when we say this often saves you time, energy and tons of grief later on!
Because your new mantelpiece won't have the usual support system of a typical fireplace, you will need to be sure to secure it to your wall. Using a cordless drill, attach L-brackets to the corners, top and underside of the new mantelpiece to mount it to the wall. Use a stud finder to find the wall studs to help insure a secure fit.
" />Cool Tool! A Stud Finder is by far one of the handiest tools to have around. But what makes it better? When it's attached to a cordless drill! One of our favorite new tools is the Skil 12 Volt X-Drive Cordless Drill with detachable Stud Finder! The lightweight variable speed cordless drill has the power and durability you'd expect from a company like Skil, but the detachable Stud Finder allows you to drill it right, the first time! For more on this truly innovative product, click here!
If you're using two pieces to 'create' a mantelpiece, you may consider mounting each piece separately to the wall. If you can't find the studs, use wall anchors for added support. But remember, wall anchors can only hold so much weight, so take this into consideration when installing your mantelpiece.
Decorating the Fireplace
" /> Once your new mantelpiece is in place, you can decorate it however you see fit. We love the effect that a set of candles of various sizes can bring. There are also screens that you can add that have beautiful votives variably placed throughout. If you choose to utilize the opening of your mantelpiece for candles, be absolutely sure that you take precautions before doing so. You may want to lay a few floor tiles underneath the candles to insure that they don't ruin your carpet as they melt. Also, be sure that there is enough clearance between the top candle and the top of the interior arch of the mantelpiece to allow any heat to escape -- especially if your mantelpiece is made of wood or other flammable material.
" /> Don't feel that you're relegated to using your mantelpiece as wall décor either. You can make it more functional as well. A mantelpiece can be used as a headboard, a TV cabinet, or whatever your imagination allows! The point is - have fun with it!
Now - another option if you absolutely must have a fire is to look into the purchase of a portable fireplace. Yes, that's right - a portable fireplace!
" /> These aren't exactly new, but the styles have certainly come a long way in recent years. Initially, they looked like old televisions with their screens replaced with a fire. But, now manufacturers have taken note and have greatly expanded the styles, colors and materials you have to choose from. A portable fireplace works with a gel type fuel that emits no smoke, no ash and most importantly, no harmful fumes. These systems are a great alternative if you live in an apartment or a home without a chimney where the cost of adding one is too prohibitive.
Because these freestanding units aren't tied to a chimney, you are free to move them to any room of your house. These units are relatively inexpensive and require no other labor than bringing them into your home. For more on these systems, check out a few of the following links: