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Fireplace Mantel Surround Designs

Updated on July 7, 2011
Barley Twisted column Mantel Surround
Barley Twisted column Mantel Surround

Fireplace Mantel Surround Ideas

Note: This is the first of a two part series.  The second piece is here:Fireplace Mantel Surrounds  pt 2

As you can tell from my other Hubs, I am really into product and design ideas to enhance the beauty of the home. I've written about kitchen enhancements, stairway design and now fireplace mantel design. Some time back I put together a series of sketches of mantel designs using Google Sketchup. My goal was to come up with some of the mantel design alternatives. (By the way, the mantel surround to the right was a project we made for a friend of mine).

Following are some of the graphics I came up with. If you are in the middle of designing your new home or remodeling an old one maybe these will get your creative juices flowing.

I should start with a graphic and a few labels of the main components of a mantel surround. The image above should be self explanatory. Please refer to this image if there are any questions as you read on.

It is vital that you observe clearance requirements for the local fire code restrictions. So when designing your mantel surround (or if you are having one built for you), first contact your local permit office or state fire martial for a schedule of these restrictions.

This graphic displays the main areas of interest.  The proximity to the firebox is the issue here.  The depth and with of the hearth, the height and protrusion of the mantel shelf, the proximity to walls or other combustible objects are all the chief concern here.

full column mantel surround
full column mantel surround

Full Column Surround

The first graphic depicts a full column surround. The columns are fully turned. Although these columns are sort of Greco - Roman in style, other turnings are possible as in the picture at the top of the page. Since the columns are full, the mantel will protrude further into the living space and so it is important that you have the available space.

I should note here that this is a mantel surround and not a mantel shelf. The shelf sits on top the pilasters or "legs" to make a surround. In this graphic the legs are behind the columns There are brackets on top the columns, and also, an offset frieze area. The offset frieze area adds interest to the mantel surround and provides a area or "field" for carved scrolls or centers (not shown). Similarly, the cornice and mantel shelf are offset to provide a cap for the protruding columns.

split column mantel surround

This surrounds is useful if space is limited. The columns are split in half and, as such, do not require the same degree of protrusion as the full turned version above. It is still a handsome mantel surround with a similar offset frieze area. Note also that the square "field" above the columns provide a nice place to add an ornamental rosette.

I've drawn in a marble panel around the firebox.  It adds beauty to the mantel surround but also an noncombustible material for fire safety.

I particularly like this mantel surround. It literally wraps around a protruding wall. The wall cavity provides room for the fireplace flue and the mantel surround. A quarter section is cut from the columns to enable them to wrap around the pilasters. The top and bottom plinth of the column wrap around the wall as well. There is ample room on the mantel shelf for nic-nacs, pictures and seasonal decorations.

If you have the room for this kind of mantel surround, it will make quite a show stopper for your home.

This is an interesting alternative to the other mantel surrounds, I think. The first thing to notice is that there are two columns instead of one. Of course, this could be accomplished with any of the other mantels. The second and most distinct aspect of this mantel is that there are no "legs" or pilasters. The mantel is attached at the top and at the plinths. The background (in this case brick) shows through. This mantel is great if you have a nice looking brick, stucco or other wall veneer type that you do not want to hide.

I should add here that some thought should go into securing the mantel surround to the wall BEFORE construction is completed. How many times do people only consider attaching their mantels after the fact.

Conclusion In conclusion, I hope this will give my readers a few ideas of designing their fireplace mantel. This article describes mantel surrounds with columns. In my next hubpage installment, I will describe mantel surrounds with ornamental pilasters.

You can find the second part of this series here: Fireplace Mantel Surround Ideas pt 2


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    • profile image

      Ron 5 years ago

      Very interesting topic, thank you for posting. Great hub!

      Ron from Fitness

    • profile image

      john 6 years ago

      very helpful

    • Router Maniac profile image

      Ken Schulte 7 years ago

      Those columns are awesome, how did you turn them?