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ideas on how to remodel/improve fireplace mantle?

12 years ago

Yes, this pic will be familiar if you've looked at some of my other threads but this time I want to focus on just the fireplace. I'm not sure what the previous owners had planned for this fireplace but as it is now, it underwhelms me and feels a bit "off" in the room. I don't have a ton of money to spend on it but I'm wondering if there is something I can do to upgrade/improve it a bit?

I wondered about removing that top ledge and putting on a wood stained mantle? Would that make enough of a difference?

There's tile all around the opening and on the hearth and I can't really afford to do tile around this any further right now. Eventually we'll get an insert for in here like we have in the family room. The screen stays for now as it keeps the dogs toys from getting covered in soot when she throws them in there.

Comments (23)

  • vampiressrn
    12 years ago

    It looks like you have a little bit of a Victorian theme going on in there...that room is beautiful. I did this at my old house as I built a mantel and wanted to make it look more feminine. I suggest placing a beautiful piece of lace on the top of the mantel and letting it hang down over the edge by about 3 or 4 inches. I took a piece of lace and cut it to fit my needs and then tea-dyed it to contrast. Or you can do a fabric overhang with something that has scalloped edges or Irish linen is beautiful too and can be tea-dyed.


  • stolenidentity
    12 years ago

    Can the book cases be removed from the sides of the fireplace? That might be the greatest improvement of all. They seem "off" to me in that you don't even really notice the lovely fireplace because of them.

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  • Oakley
    12 years ago

    I'd definitely keep the bookcases. Once they're full of books and knick knacks, they'll look fantastic with the FP being the centerpiece.

    I like the FP as is though. I see nothing wrong with it. I do like the last picture in vanpiressrn's post. A mantel scarf with florals up there would be perfect for your room!

  • lindac
    12 years ago

    Another who says ditch the book cases and the fireplace will seem right.
    I think it's lovely...but the dark on either side or it makes it seem insignificant.
    Or paint the book cases ( I never thought I would say that!!)
    Linda C

  • lizziebethtx
    12 years ago

    I also believe the bookcases need to go. I don't think the FP is the problem. It's really very attractive IMO.

  • susanwrites
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks for stirring up my gray matter, folks. I appreciate it. The problem I have with the fireplace is the mantle being this massive sheet rock thing instead of wood. I guess it's because I've never seen any like this before. I suppose I'll let it go.

    The bookcases stay. We just got them (CL) With 10,000 books in this house, we can never have enough bookcases. :) I just hadn't filled them yet because I knew we would be painting soon.

    I suppose thinking about the mantle was just one more way to not think about picking out the paint that I need to decide on this weekend so the painters can start next week. Perhaps I'll like the mantle better in its new color, whatever it's going to be. :) And I'll play around with fabric on there too.

  • elsa42
    12 years ago

    I like the fireplace! I agree the bookcases should stay but be painted to match. I think the screen, which I also like, is a tad big for the opening and perhaps the accessories on the mantel are just a bit too small for the scale of the mantel.

  • justgotabme
    12 years ago

    I'm with you Susan, this fireplace lacks pizazz. Maybe without the bookcases it worked, but I agree, with them it needs a wood mantel at the very least. Not sure how handy you are your hubby is but you already have the base to build on. I'd by thin cabinet grade plywood in oak and cover all, meaning the whole surround, of the drywall then use solid one bys of oak to trim it out. To beef up the mantel itself you could add crown under the current mantel and around the edge topping it off with solid oak.

  • susanwrites
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    justgotabme - I love how you think. Hubby and I are not at all handy but I'm going to pass your description over to my gem of a handyman and see what he thinks could be done.


  • justgotabme
    12 years ago

    You are very welcome. Now if I can just get my own hubby to help me build our surround and built ins that I finally drew up a couple months ago. He approved of the drawing and even kind of understands my latest idea of installing the TV in one of the cabinets instead of over the fireplace, but has yet to order the cabinets we need to pull it off. He's probably waiting for me to draw up plans to build it from scratch. We've not yet tried making the style of doors we need, though we do have the router bit to do so.
    Good Luck! I'll be looking forward to hearing if my idea works.

  • paintergirl94
    12 years ago

    I think the f.p. is too contemporary looking. Add some mouldings, maybe a crown on the mantle with a strip of egg & dart, maybe some panel mouldings along the sides and middle. I like the bookcases and once they're filled, will make sense. But, maybe paint them a soft green or gray.
    I really like the painting on your mantle, and would find color inspiration there. I wish I could get a closer look. It reminds me of a Hudson-valley inspired painting.

  • curyly
    12 years ago

    I like the fireplace as is and understand the need to keep the book cases. Perhaps an area rug in front of the fireplace would bring focus to it.

  • cliff_and_joann
    12 years ago

    I love the room and bookcases. Since the room is going to be painted, I would paint the sheetrock surrounding the
    FP a slightly deeper shade (in semi-gloss) as the wall color. The white is to stark and the slightly darker shade
    would be easier on the eye.

    You need a wood mantle stained to match the bookcases. The mantle should be made to 'slip' over the existing sheetrock top covering about half of the sheetrock top.
    I would make the mantle about 5" high. In order to have
    a bit of of a side profile you may have to move the bookcases closer to hug the wall more (which means you
    may have to cut away a little floor molding -- just by
    the bookcases) My FP mantle is 10" deep, I think a deep
    mantle would look good on your FP since you surround
    sheetrock in heavy.

    If you like that idea, get some tan colored oaktag and mock it up.

    We make a lot of our furniture and cabinets, I have mantles on everything...however, I am a very visual person
    and make mock up's of everything.

    If you go on my website you'll see many mantles over doors, windows and cabinets...

    This is an example of mantles with profiles on the bird cages that we made recently made for our two birds, I haven't added them to our website yet,

  • cliff_and_joann
    12 years ago

    ok, here is an example of what I mean about a mantle
    (this one is about 4" tall) It slips over the cabinet.
    If I were to pick up the mantle, you would see about 1"
    of the cabinet frame showing above the doors.
    hope this is clear???

    This is what I mean by making a mantle that would slip over the existing
    sheetrock mantle you have... By making an oaktag mock-up, it would help you decide how high to make the mantle, as well as how much of the existing sheetrock to cover with the bottom of the mantle.

  • teacats
    12 years ago

    Adding a dark wood mantle would tie the fireplace to the dark wood of the bookcases ....

    Then add books (LOL!) and maybe add a few bits of your blue-and-white china (just the bowl on one side to sit on a pile of horizontally-piled books and the plate-on-a stand on the other side) -- just to "move" that look around the whole facade -- and bring in more colors from the artwork.

    Hang the artwork -- no need to frame it! The additional inch or so will help to create a "higher visual center" -- then add the small dark bowl from the top of the glass cabinet by your office doors -- to the center of the mantel.

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  • susanwrites
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    paintergirl94 - yep, way too contemporary for us. I mean, we live in a not old house but we not fans of contemporary at all.

    justgottabe me - what's that the say about the shoemaker's kids go barefoot? :) I hope you get your cabinets soon.

    curyly - yes, I think I'll need a rug too, once I get the paint picked and can figure out if I want a couple more chairs in there.

    Wow, Joann, your home is lovely and I am in awe that you made all those mantles and that beautiful furniture. What I love about your pieces is that it doesn't look like something newly made, but something that has been in the house for years and blends with antiques. Wish we had those skills but alas, ours run in a different direction. I really appreciate all the info that I can pass to the handyman. I sent him one email last night and he sounded very up for the challenge. I'm thinking though, that I will go ahead and get the room painted and everything else mostly arranged so then we can focus on the mantle.

    And Joann, gardener me is over the moon at your beautiful pond pics. I had those bookmarked a few years ago when we were looking for houses and had hoped to be able to put in a pond. Alas we have too small of a yard for one (just several water pondless features instead.) but your pond pages are still some of my favorites.

    Oh, and paintergil, here's the picture over the fireplace.

    I know the other things on the mantle are out of scale and can be moved around though the bronze figurine will likely stay there.

    Jan - love that you noticed that dark bowl on top of the other cabinet and my blue and white! I can't wait to get to favorite part of decorating!

    Now back to the paint store for more samples to slap on some boards. I am almost sold on Baby Turtle in this room but since it gets very little natural light, I worry that it will be too dark. I can't seem to find another green/brown that has as much depth or interest or whatever you call it. :) Flowering Herbs, the next one up from Baby Turtle, seems too light.

    Thank you, again, all. So many wonderful things to think about.

  • cliff_and_joann
    12 years ago

    Susan, I'm happy you like the suggestions, even if you go
    in a different direction, sometimes one idea leads to another.

    Just a couple more things...If the handy man is going to
    make you a mantle, think about this...adding another layer
    of molding to the top of the bookcases for more drama.
    I think it would be a good addition to the bookcases, to have
    a heavier molding on top, especially if you have a heavy
    mantle on the FP, I am thinking about
    1 3/4" to 2" higher...again this is something you can
    mock-up with pieces of wood on top of the bookcases to get an idea on how high to
    go with it.

    What size is the painting? Can you go on a good-will hunt
    for a frame?
    I love the painting, but would frame it. (to me a frameless painting is too contemporary) The frame that the cottage painting is in -- is quite old, perhaps 100+ years old. It was my hubby's grandparents frame. My dear Father-in-Law painted the 'cottage' in 1942 to fit his parents frame.
    It was dark mahogony, so first I sprayed it with bronze
    paint, then ragged on some highlights with gold paint, then wiped it down
    with walnut point being... Pay attention to the style of the frame, and don't worry about the
    color of the frame, as you can make it look unique. It also should be hung a few inches higher above the mantle, and higher than the top of the bookcases.

  • justgotabme
    12 years ago

    "justgottabe me - what's that the say about the shoemaker's kids go barefoot? :) I hope you get your cabinets soon. "
    My hubby is actually a programmer annalist. Woodworking has become both our hobbies since we built our current home. I've always loved refinishing wood furniture, but am learning I love making things too. Not anywhere near the talent Joann and her hubby have, but maybe someday.
    We talked of the TV in the cabinet situation again last night and he's still not convinced. I mean the doors would be open most of the time so it's not like he'd have to take a few extra steps to open them everytime he wanted to watch something. You'd think he was a lazy man, but he's far from that. He's 58 years old and training for his first marathon. He got up this morning at 4:30 to run 16 miles in the heat and is now umpiring in even hotter temps. Go figure.

  • tracie.erin
    12 years ago

    cliff_and_joann.. your pieces are beautiful. But, as an owner of two pet birds I have to speak up. Your beautiful cages seem way too small with barely enough room to flap, and certainly not enough to take a little flight - and canaries are not a bird for which it takes a lot to provide that kind of adequate space. Even if you have them out of the cage 23 hours of the day and set me straight on your situation, I have to speak up because all too often, birds and their cages are thought of as simply decor.. they are not, they are living beings that deserve more than the closet most provide for them. My birds' cages are UGLY and BIG and their playstands are UGLY and BIG.. and I've accepted that despite how nice I wish all my rooms would look :)

  • paintergirl94
    12 years ago

    Thanks for an up-close look. Not what I thought, but still love it. Especially the sky.
    Today, spent many hours in the Colonial Williamsburg Museum of Decorative Arts. Breathtaking. Then, we went to the kids area to color. I chose the cows, son chose chickens, daughter drew her horses on the farm and husband made a *puzzle*. He drew an eye. Then a capital *M*. Then a (very primitive) wild boar followed by the letter *D*. Which when we solved read "I am bored". So, we went for lunch at the tavern.
    Keep us updated on your f.p. decisions!

  • Sheeisback_GW
    12 years ago

    LOVE the picture on the mantel. Who's that by? John C..something?

    I agree adding a dark mantel will tie in the bookcases and look very nice.

    Very pretty room.

  • susanwrites
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    paintergirl94 - that story about your husband is too too funny!

    sheesharee - thanks for the vote of confidence on the dark mantle. I have no idea who did the painting. I'm almost afraid to admit it here now but it is one of those art-to-canvas things I got at art dot com. ;)

    It works for me until I find something that large in real life that I both love and can afford.

  • tinam61
    12 years ago

    Yes, Susan needs her bookcases, she really does write! Susan, I think you need to either go with a wood mantle or paint the bookcases to match the current mantle/fireplace. Either would work to unify the look. I agree with Teacats about adding some of your blue/white pieces to the mantle.