Fireplace shelves are often a solution for homeowners when it comes to dressing up a brick or stone fireplace opening. Used to hold decorative items like pictures and vases, fireplace shelves can be the finishing touch to an otherwise empty fireplace opening without the hassle of installing side frames or the expense of a full fireplace mantel.
Intro to Fireplace Mantel Shelves
When you think of a fireplace mantel, typically you envision a complete wooden frame built around the top and sides of a fireplace opening. That''s where fireplace shelves differ from traditional fireplace mantels.
"A fireplace shelf is just the top of the mantel?just a shelf," explains Georgia fireplace mantel manufacturer Park Pigott. "There aren''t any sides to it."
Reasons for choosing fireplace shelves differ. Some prefer a minimal invasion into a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, or don''t want to detract from a masonry or brick fireplace. Cost and effort can also make the final determination: sometimes, it''s just cheaper to buy fireplace shelves and doesn''t take as long to replace or install.
Fireplace Mantel Shelves: Styles and Sizes
While there are no "standard" sizes for fireplace shelves, Pigott says there are sizes that seem to be the most popular.
"The normal widths for fireplace shelves are five, six, seven inches," he explains. "The depth is usually 10 inches, with the whole box being about nine inches tall."
Styles for fireplace shelves vary just as much as the sizes. Of the woods used to make fireplace shelves, Pigott says quarter sawn oak, heart pine, mahogany and cherry are his top sellers. Poplar is popular for those who like to dress up plain wood with a coat of paint, as is Asian choi, a tightly pressed wood similar to American white oak. Other options for fireplace shelves include bare, unfinished styles to hand-carved ornamental pieces with elaborate designs for the shelves and brackets.
Uses for Fireplace Mantel Shelves
Stuck on what to put on a fireplace shelf? Don''t want the usual picture frame or candle cluster? A variety of home decorating publications reveal a trend toward the unusual when it comes to dressing up fireplace shelves. For instance, a set of beautiful book-ends and a few, classic books make a stately statement in a formal room. A beaded wreath made from unusual material makes a classic, understated declaration, while clustering different objects of similar color or size (say, a set of tall, tubular vases or odd trinkets that have only a color in common) look stunningly abstract in uneven groupings on fireplace shelves.
Measuring for Fireplace Mantel Shelves
When selecting fireplace shelves, remember that measuring is a different experience for replacement shelves than it is for new fireplace shelves. If you''re replacing an existing shelf, measure the current shelf''s width and depth and the width of the fireplace opening. If you''re buying a new fireplace shelf to center on a fireplace that''s never had one, measure the width of the brick, masonry or sheetrock surrounding one side of the fireplace opening and the width of the fireplace opening.
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