|The fireplace and mantle today|
The living room mantle has been an area of our home that has been largely ignored, for good reason. I recently tweaked it a bit, but am still not loving it. Help?
First, a bit of history. The original fireplace insert was so ugly, I couldn’t stomach glancing at the general area. When we hired a chimney cleaner we learned that, even though the home passed inspection with a home inspector we specifically chose for his knowledge of fireplaces, the insert was illegal. A new fireplace insert could be thousands. Instead, we had it professionally removed and everything was inspected and cleaned – to the tune of $400! We then added new and modern matte black doors and have since used it as a (legal) masonry fireplace. Less efficient, sure, but our house is so wee that even a modest flame raises the temperature substantially.
Working with the Brick:
The brick has been another thorn in my side. Longtime readers know I have long waffled about painting or not painting the brick. With Hubby vehemently siding on “don’t paint the brick,” I’ve left it as is. It does pick up on some of the other warm tones in the room, like the apricot upholstery, teak wood and even hits of a brick hue in the artwork, providing nice warmth against my penchant for turquoise. With our all-white walls, it adds a healthy does of colour and texture. So it shall remain unpainted, even if it makes it trickier to modernize the look.
Decorating the Mantle (My Goldie Locks Dilemma):
Even without the added aggravation souring me on the whole fireplace, and the exposed brick making it tricky to modernize to feel, decorating the mantle has kind of stumped me. My childhood home never had a mantle, so the concept is a little foreign to me. And ones I’ve seen are all “too” . . .
This one, although lovely and almost bistro-inspired, has a bit too much going on for me:
|The Lettered Cottage
This one, although really pretty, is still too busy for me:
This one, although more pared back in terms of decorative items, is too much of a statement maker. I don’t want to draw too much attention to the mantle (I’d rather make the artwork the predominant eye-catcher).
|Desire to Inspire|
This mantle is more my style: bold artwork? Check. Turquoise? Yep. But it makes too much of a statement again. A bolder styling like this might just detract from the two larger pieces of artwork immediately to the left of our fireplace.
|Better Homes and Gardens|
But then this one is a little too spartan. Our fireplace and mantle need a bit more of a disguise. I think only a truly gorgeous fireplace and surround can be this unadorned.
|Better Homes and Gardens|
Our Mantle “Styled”
So how did I “style” ours?
When we moved in, I threw up a quirky etching from a vintage shop immediately, because the former owners had drilled massive holes into the brick to hang their photos. I needed to hang something to hide the screws imbedded in the brick. Some days I’m unconvinced of the scale’s appropriateness, but I like that it is subtle and doesn’t compete with the other artwork.
I added the candlestick holders, made by Hubby’s aunt, because they offered some height, and just recently I added a little wooden box 12 year old Handy Hubby made. Cue the collective “awwww”. We were on the hunt for something to hide our kindling, and this box (languishing in the basement) fit the bill. I added a pottery bowl my mom made to hide matches in. I stacked it on top of the box to add more height to my little “vignette”. The finished product is hugely practical, but is it pretty?
Here’s a closer view of the quirky etching:
Moving Forward . . . it Needs Something
It seems the mantle needs something . . . should I paint the mantle? Make a new one (I cannot figure out how it’s attached – it is original). Add different artwork? The box, I think, is there to stay (at least during the winter months).
Or do you think I am just fussing with the mantle to avoid the basement, a large and scary undertaking?