One of the most prominent features of the decoration in a well-furnished room is the mantel and fireplace. There are many different styles of mantels that are popular at the present time, among them being the Gothic, Renaissance, Louis XIV, XV and XVI, Empire, Marie Antoinette and many others; but perhaps the most popular and pleasing is the Colonial, both in the old and modern treatment.
The character of this style is its simplicity of lines and neat appearance, both of which will never grow tiresome; and while this style may be laid aside temporarily for some novelty that may appear from time to time, it is eventually brought to the front and established in its rightful place.
As this style was the first architectural feature in the buildings, furniture, decorations and general treatment of interiors at the early history of this country, it will, in all probability, remain in popularity with us always.
In the illustration given above is a simple, old-colonial mantel, admirably adapted to a dining-room, bed-room or sitting-room. This model may be made in natural wood, or white wood, or pine painted cream-white. The ornaments can be carved, or, if the mantel is to be painted, they may be of composition or papier-mache, glued fast to the wood before it is painted.
Any cabinet maker or good joiner carpenter can make either of these mantels by following the illustration. The wood they are to be made of should be well-seasoned and kiln-dried, as otherwise there might be danger of the glued joints springing and opening at a future time.
A mantel to stand well for years is one of the most difficult pieces of furniture to construct, as it is exposed to the most severe changes of temperature, at one time being heated almost to the burning point, at another closed in a cold room in which it is subject to extreme cold.
This mantel, having three mirrors, is of simple and neat construction, the shelf and frieze being support by a column at either end.
The shelf should be about four feet and two or three inches high from the floor, and the total length of the shelf will be governed by the width of the chimney-breast it is to fit against. The fire-place is to be lined with a set of iron linings that may be purchased from any manufacturer of fire-places, and around the fire opening a flat wrought-iron frame studded at regular intervals with bolt-heads, is to be arranged. The space between the outside of the frame and the mantel opening is to be filled with a facing of tiles. Of tiles for this purpose there are almost an endless variety in both plain and embossed surfaces.
This design makes up well in pine or white wood. The wood should receive several good coats of cream-white paint laid on smoothly, and the high parts of the ornament, which may be of papier-mache, should be touched with gold-leaf to enliven the relief and lend a contrast to the broad expanse of painted surface.
The side view of the mantel will show about how far it should project out from the chimney-breast, to obtain a shelf of good width on which to place a clock, some vases of substantial size or other ornaments. The two drawings below the mantel design will show the ground-plan, so a cabinet maker can work to better advantage.
If the mantel is to be white and gold, small ivory tiles will look best; a delicate pink or very light pea-green tiles will also look very well and lend a pleasing contrast to the white mantel.
If it should be of oak or ash, there are various shades that will harmonize well with these woods; tile of a soft olive-green, a light-brown or tan, and several shades of dark orange, suit oak and ash very well.
If the mantel should be of cherry or mahogany, there are many shades of tiles that will go well with the color of these woods, as certain shades of green in combination with mahogany and a brass frame.
J.H. Adams (1895, November). Mantel and Fireplace. The Ladies World, Vol. XVI(11), 20. Retrieved from http://victoriantimes.us/decorating/mantel-and-fireplace