Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fireplace Mantel Shelf Ideas

Have you ever walked into a beautiful old house or mansion and saw a fireplace that was so magnificent that it took your breath away? Even in some more modest houses, the beauty and craftsmanship of their fireplaces stood out in the rooms.
Do you have a plain, old model without a mantel or mantel shelf? Even some of the new models are little more than an insert into the wall with a little brick or rock around the edges. The plainer and cheaper have largely taken off unless you have a house that is much more expensive than the norm.
What can you do about that without spending a fortune? Many people are considering the addition of mantels or mantel shelves to dress that perfectly functional fireplace up. A brick fireplace is often one of the central features in a living room, so why not dress up one of the house's most important features? Redoing a fireplace, in a decorative fashion, is one of the best returns for your dollars.
Do you have a fireplace without a mantel or mantel shelf above it? A fireplace mantel shelf is an affordable addition that can be a major attraction to the room. Fireplace mantel shelves are usually wooden ledges or shelves used to place items such as candles, pictures, statuary, vases or other small items. They could be family heirlooms or treasures from trips you taken and places you’ve seen. They can be installed in lieu of a full fireplace mantel for less cost and less work. Fireplace mantel shelves can change the appearance of an existing fireplace in short order. A mantel shelf can also be a replacement for an original fireplace mantel.
The difference in a mantel and a mantel shelf is essentially that the mantel shelf is the horizontal section that is fastened to the wall above the fireplace. If describing a mantel, think of the shelf with columns from the bottom of the shelf to the hearth or floor. A full fireplace mantel may be more than you want or need. You may not want the full mantel look or you may not want to spend that much money or go for the extra labor involved.
You may want the decorative shelf for an area other than a fireplace. Mantel shelves are not just for installing above fireplaces any more. They can add character in a wide variety of places in your d├ęcor. They can be thought of as freeform wall shelves often installed in groups of two or three.
Your choice of mantel shelf often depends on the style of your house but also on the type and size of your fireplace. Many types are available including classical and traditional designs as well as modern ones. Wood fireplace mantels are made from mahogany, oak, birch, maple and pine, to name a few. Less costly options may include fiberboard and other lower-cost materials. Be aware that going for the higher quality may not cost that much more money and no more labor but the effect may be dramatically different.
Are you handy with tools and diy techniques? You might build your own fireplace mantel shelves. Is it cheaper? Likely a little, but you need a lot more labor. Obtaining the correct materials might be a challenge. Fireplace mantel shelf kits start at under $200 for quality materials. Prices go up as the craftsmanship improves, all the way up to artists doing hand carving.
These fireplace shelves are simple to assemble and install. The average do it yourselfer with basic skills can install a mantle shelf from these kits in an afternoon. Tools and supplies required for a mantel shelf kit installation are basic ones, typically a level, hammer, electric drill with a Phillips bit or a Phillips screwdriver, a 3/16” drill bit, and a little wood glue. A stud finder can make the process even easier.
Once you’ve installed your mantel shelf, it can be used as a display area that complements the fireplace area. Think of these as ideal locations for smaller art works, such as portraits or landscapes, photos and art objects. Many people place heirlooms there and other things dear to them.

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