I Wish I had a …

Fireplace! Since I have just gotten back from Charleston, land of the amazing extant 18th and 19th century houses, I have been thinking about fireplaces–and more specifically, fireplace mantels. Unfortunately, I have neither. For those apartment dwellers and homeowners who are lucky enough to have a working fireplace to cozy up to during this recent drop in temperature–I envy you. And for those of you living in an apartment building or converted townhouse that has a mantelpiece as a reminder of what once was a working fireplace–I am equally jealous.
Canadian House and Home

Miles Redd

Southern Accents

Nick Olsen, Domino
Working or non-working, a fireplace provides a great focal point for any room, and an opportunity to create a mantelscape. Books, candles, flowers, photos, objet and in Miles Redd’s case, horns, are all great for decorating a fireplace mantel. Some prefer allowing the architectural details of the mantelpiece stand alone, such as Nick Olsen above, and some Charlestonian mantels below.
75 King Street, carriageprop.com

90 Church Street, carriageprop.com

There are also non-traditional mantelscapes. Charlestonian and jewlery designer, Janet Gregg, did an off center mantelscape in her Stolls Alley cottage that plays off the rambling nature of her 18th century house. Rita Konig, our favorite Domino contributor, used her mantelpiece as an opportunity to display photos in an unconventional way.
Janet Gregg, Cottage Living

Rita Konig, Domino

Some prefer to stick with one single object above their mantel whether it is hanging or leaning a painting or a mirror–this option works too.

Darryl Carter, Elle Decor


The most important thing to remember is that it should be personal! Nate Berkus is currently selling “mantelscapes” on hsn.com. I think that part of the fun of decorating things like mantels and tables is using things that you already own to create a personalized vignette. Sure, there is definitely a popular formula, but don’t purchase a pre-packaged decorating scheme just so you can have a finished mantel. None of the items need to be expensive–as in Rita Konig’s apartment, she used printed photographs to create her mantelscape. And if you are using a single painting or mirror, that can also be cheap! I cannot wait until I have a mantel of my own to decorate–fire or no fire.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • I love this! I want a fireplace so much– I have often been at salvage yards and though of just buying a mantel that I love and sticking it against a wall- but in the back of my head I will always know it is cheating. When o when will my rich husband come and buy me an 18th century farmhouse?