Fireplace mantels are for hanging Christmas stockings, right? In many ways that's true because the original function of a fireplace mantel was to catch smoke, and today's fireplaces no longer need help. Like many other once functional features of a house, today we add fireplace mantel decor for the holidays and to display collectibles year round.
Along with Christmas trees, fireplaces are popular because of the warmth they give off during cool (or cold depending on where you live) winter nights. While fireplaces are no longer a source of heat like they once were, it's still important to think carefully about the materials you want for your fireplace mantel as it will get very hot whenever the fire is going.
We also know that Santa doesn't come down the chimney but we still like hanging stockings from the mantel to maintain our childhood dreams. In fact many people want a fireplace even if they live in the south where it never gets really cold, just for the memories.
Fireplace Mantel Decor
Fireplace mantels are often the focal point of the room where they're found. The mantel provides an opportunity to create a personal statement about the room, the home and the family that lives there. Fireplace mantel decor should be consistent in design with your home's style which might be traditional, contemporary designs or more eclectic with lots of different items that you have because you love them.
If you're renovating your home and want a fireplace that matches the period when your home was built, you'll find lots of fireplace mantels at your local architectural salvage company. The challenge is finding one that fits your fireplace opening so be sure to take measurements. You might also find that door you've always dreamed of … or a counter top so measure them too.
Other sources for fireplace mantels are online stores offering hundreds of choices, like MantelsDirect.com. You'll find many choices so first think about how you want to use your fireplace mantel:
- Fireplace mantel shelves – are great for collectibles, Christmas stockings and other seasonal decorations.
- Fireplace surrounds – include the fireplace mantel, the header below the mantel and the legs (also called pillars) that surround the fireplace opening.
- Material choices for fireplace mantels – range from different types of wood to marble and stone.
For more custom fireplace mantels, you can build your own fireplace mantel or hire a remodeler or carpenter who specializes in custom fireplaces. The benefit of working with a seasoned remodeler is you can add more function to your fireplace wall with window seats, custom bookcases and more. For example, during the Victorian era, it was common to create an ornate frame above the mantle for the family portrait and in many homes today, you'll find a flat screen television above the fireplace.
Fireplace Mantel Decor and Holiday Traditions
For young children, the fireplace chimney is how Santa arrives to leave presents on Christmas eve. Everyone knows you need to leave cookies and milk for Santa, and sometimes they'll be left on the fireplace mantel.
If you don't have a fireplace mantel, there are lots of alternatives for hanging your Christmas stockings until you get your fireplace (twinkle):
- Bookshelves, credenza or a shelf in an entertainment center – can use the same Christmas stocking hooks you would use on fireplace mantels).
- Hang stockings from stairs, a ladder near the tree or dining room chairs – anyplace where you can easily tie the stockings.
- Borrow a coat, hat or mitten rack that will hold the weight of the stockings – once Santa fills them with fruit, candy and small gifts.
- Tie stockings to beds or bedroom door handles – to keep the kids busy on Christmas morning. You'll get some extra sleep which you need … if you were wrapping gifts into the wee hours of the morning, which always happens to me.
Your imagination is all you need to create new family traditions so if you find yourself reminisce about camping and campfires, an outdoor fireplace is the next best thing to roasting marshmallows on the campfire. But if there's snow outside, why not indoors?