Fireplace mantels are taking center stage more and more in modern homes. Previously they primarily housed candles that never got lit, photos, and seasonal décor but we’re seeing an increase of thoughtful décor that not only makes the fireplace area shine but also elevates the rest of the room. Here are some common questions & trends we’ve seen:
1. What’s the difference between an English mantel and a French mantel?
French mantles tend to be lower and more ornate, often in heavier materials like marble or stone, and more heavy duty architecturally. English mantles tend to be higher and made of wood and sometimes offer modern, clean lines. With either type, fireplaces definitely have become statement pieces by themselves. They show off a kind of lifestyle with either sophistication, romance, or coziness and offer an area for homeowners to showcase their sense of style.
2. Non-Traditional Lighting
One lighting trend that keeps cropping up is lighting on the floor or hearth rather than on the mantle, specifically 2 symmetrical spotlights that point directly upward at the fireplace surround. It creates a dramatic effect and highlights beautiful materials or architecture.
Another option with a twist is candle holders in less conventional spots like the fireplace screen or hearth, mimicking the light and ambiance of a fire.
If there’s artwork on or above the mantle, spotlights can be used to highlight the artwork. It is usually best if the artwork is tall and the lights fade up to the ceiling. Overhead artwork lighting can look stuffy and too harsh.
Generally avoid lamps and seasonal lighting and definitely avoid the clash of harsh white light. This area should employ softer, cozier yellow light.
3. Are mirrors and TVs hanging above a mantel sort of dull or expected at this point?
Mirrors still have their place above mantles but they easily look outdated. They still work well with extra high ceilings, statement fireplaces, and low mantles where the mirror is tall and draws the eye upward.
TVs are still a favorite over the mantle but we’re fans of décor that adds texture and interest and shows that the TV is not the focus of the room. One trend we love is the look of horizontal wood planks from hearth to ceiling on the fireplace. It’s eye-catching without being too distracting and allows for other décor to shine on the mantle.
4. Do people still use the Rule of Three?
This infamous rule is less in fashion now unless the three items are complementary statement pieces. Think an ornate clock flanked on either side by pieces of art. The rule of three often suggests a rigid formality which is less common in today’s homes.
5. What about safety?
Kids and pets are important to consider if the mantle items are within reach, but if the mantle is out of reach, there’s no limit to the fragility and creativity of the mantel décor! Heavy objects, objets d’art, glass, and artwork all can look fantastic on a mantle, anchoring the visuals or lifting them up. If you are worried about things being knocked off, check out the various mounting solutions sold at any local hardware store (e.g. screw mounts, plates, velcro, hooks, small straps, etc.).
6. Symmetrical vs organic?
This really depends on the style of the fireplace and of the room as long as it looks intentional and thoughtful (i.e. not messy and haphazard). The fireplace is usually the room’s focal point and can be a great place to add contrast. If your room has a lot of symmetry, try a more organic design on the mantle. If your room is more relaxed and organically decorated, try a symmetry over the mantle with décor or sconces or artwork.
7. What do people put on mantels these days?
Today’s mantles are often more decorative than sentimental. Family photos tend to be hung on walls and placed on tables, shelves, and desks leaving the mantel free for creativity and expression. It’s more on trend to use bold, simple mantel décor rather than numerous small items which can look cluttered and unfocused.
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