Here in the Bay Area, fireplaces serve as a cozy addition to weekends and evenings leading all the way up until spring. Even after chilly evenings turn warm, most living room seating arrangements position the fireplace front and center – so it’s worth creating a mantel worth gazing at.
Affordable Ways to Dress Up Your Fireplace Mantel
Long winter days provide the ideal setting to plan and execute a new version of your existing fireplace mantel – there’s nowhere to be but tucked up inside anyway, right?
Here are some affordable, budget-friendly ways to re-vamp a mantel so it delights the eye for months or years to come.
Rearrange your house
I recently posted a piece on rearranging your home furnishings with panache. While in the process, I recommend mixing and matching art pieces, collectibles, or miscellaneous tchotchkes on display elsewhere.
Use these extra or leftover pieces and arrange them on the mantel. Still, have leftovers? Maybe it’s time to update your entryway while you’re at it.
Prop – don’t hang – your art
If you have a rather large art installation, it’s best to mount it properly and securely to protect the art as well as unsuspecting family members or guests. Otherwise, propping your art, rather than hanging it, gives it a slightly more casual or even edgy look. I like the way paintings or photos look when propped by staggered degrees or in layers.
Forget about art, how about frames?
Rather than using framed art, you can use empty frames. The frames themselves can be gorgeous and then fresh flowers, plants, candles or other decorative display items can be set around them or playfully “framed” in front of them.
Paint and more paint
Sometimes, the best way to make something “pop” is to paint the space behind it. If you live in a more recently constructed home, odds are the fireplace is an insert, surrounded by a tile of some kind, with drywall comprising the rest of the wall and the chimney behind it. Why not choose an accent color you love and paint the wall behind the fireplace? Then, give the mantel a fresh coat of paint – one that contrasts with the accent color – and va-va-voom. All of a sudden, the mantel becomes the star of the show.
Hang a mirror over it
Mirrors pack a powerful design punch. The mirror frame itself can be used to add texture, color or an eye-catching focal point. The mirror will reflect light – both day and night – helping to illuminate the space. Because it’s a reflective surface, a mirror also makes the space feel bigger – especially helpful in a smaller living room or den space.
Change it out for something repurposed
Is your mantel boring or outdated? Consider swapping it out for something more creative and inventive. There are plenty of items that can be repurposed into a mantel. Reclaimed wood is all the rage these days. While it can be very costly to use reclaimed lumber for flooring or an expanse of kitchen cabinetry, a single slab of beautiful, rustic reclaimed wood is an affordable option for a mantel. Salvaged mantels from older homes abound in antique and curio stores so keep an eye out for something unique and then install it above or around your fireplace.
Have a fireplace that you never use? Why not build shelves over it and around it and then use it as a personal library. Similarly, you can use the fireplace, mantel and/or installed shelves to creatively display a prized collection.
These days, almost anything goes in the world of home design so don’t hesitate to go out on a limb and try something new.