Fireplaces in San Diego CA

Fireplace Mantel In San Diego
Mantel Depot Fireplace Mantel with Over Mantel

Fireplaces in San Diego

Mantelpiece, sometimes referred to as fireplace mantels, and grate styles have changed but the basic structural elements of a fireplace have not radically changed for hundreds of years. The early combination of a large stone or brick opening with a smokestackbuilt over it evolved from the obvious fact that smoke rises, rather than from a scientific understanding of how a well-designed chimney system works. Consequently early wood and later coal-burning fires were very inefficient and it was not until a certain Benjamin Thompson produced his thesis on the principles of fireplace mantels design in 1799 that smaller grates and improvements in the internal shape of the openings were introduced.

San Diego Fireplaces

A brick or stone enclosure forms the basis of the fireplace. Variously known as the fireplace opening or recess or builders opening, it may be set flush with the wall or built out into the room, forming a chimney breast. This chimney breast rises through the height of the house, emerging through the roof to form a chimney stack. At the top of the opening the gather and flue combine to carry the smoke up the chimney. If the chimney is shared by several fireplaces on different floors, it may contain more than one flue.

The masonry over the fireplace opening is supported by a lintel or a brick arch. Old inglenook fireplaces used colossal oak beams, whereas a strong iron strap usually supports an early brick arch. Later fireplaces may have a straight arch supported by angle iron, and by the twentieth century cast concrete lintels were the norm.

A hearth, constructed from non-combustible materials such as stone or tile-faced concrete, projects out into the room to protect the floor from falling ashes. In most old houses the hearth was set flush with the floor, although sometimes a superimposed one was used to raise the level. The space within the fireplace opening, known as the back hearth, is usually level with the hearth itself. A dog grate for burning wood or coal can be placed on this back hearth. However, by the mid-nineteenth century the mass produced cast-iron register grate which filled the opening, had become the fashion.

To finish the assembly, a mantelpiece or fireplace mantel – or fireplace surround, as it is often called today – is fitted to frame the grate or fireplace opening. The fireplace mantel may be constructed from stone, slate, marble, wood or cast iron. The walls around it may be finished with wood paneling, or more generally with plaster, and in some cases the fireplace mantel extends upwards to form an impressive chimneypiece. Mirrored overmantels were introduced in the late eighteenth century, and these became the classic feature of Victorian sitting rooms.

From Mantel Depot

Functionality of Fireplace Mantels

Within this fireplace an open fire burning wood or coal is a cheerful sight, but if it is your only source of warmth, as it was for centuries, this romantic image can soon fade especially if the fire does not burn properly. Getting a fire started and keeping it burning then becomes a challenge, if not a chore. For wood and coal fires to burn well a good supply of air is needed under the grate, as well as a means of escape for the hot gases and smoke. With the fuel carefully contained within the fireplace opening on a grate, free movement of air is achievable and waste ash can fall through the grate so the fire is not stifled. If the chimney is inadequate or the flow of air is restricted the fireplace mantels will not operate effectively.

Fireplace Mantels in San Diego
Fireplace Surrounds in San Diego

Fireplace Mantel Decorating

Fireplace mantel in San Diego CA
Fireplace mantel by Mantel Depot

Why Decorating Your Fireplace Mantels

Decorating  fireplace mantels, occasionally referred to as fireplace surrounds or mantelpiece, is more than just what you put on your mantelshelf. It’s the culmination of your individual style that pulls your look together. A natural focal point because of its size and usually centrally-located position, the fireplace surround is an crucial place to start when you consider your décor.

How to Decorate Your Fireplace Mantels

Where do you start when decorating the fireplace mantels? Start by surveying the mantel piece itself. What do you see? Is your fireplace mantel brick dark, ugly or just old, old, old? Worse, is it boring? Has it been painted by previous owners to a shade that makes you cringe? Brick paint or fireplace mantel paint that’s specially-formulated to resist the demands of a fireplace surround can wash over the drab, old brick—even if it’s been painted before—and completely revitalize your fireplace mantels and your room. The process is easy, fun, and can be completed in a few hours. The cost is only a fraction of the price of re-facing or remodeling your fireplace mantel and you’ll be surprised at the impact.

Now that you’ve brightened the masonry, step back and see how your mantel fits into your mantelpiece decorating project. Does it compliment or compete with the fireplace mantels? What color is the mantel? Does it draw the eye with an attractive, clean style and finish? If not, see what other mantels might fit better.

Since the mantel is at eye-level, it’s natural that its decoration draws attention first. Heirloom, pictures, beautiful knick knacks and things dear to the heart will make the truest declarationabout your home. Artwork is always striking above your fireplace surround, so include unique displays like a single, bold piece in a beautiful frame, or try clustering smaller paintings or prints in asymmetrical groups for contemporary, interesting impact. You can also group items of similar shape or color on your fireplace mantels for a whimsical look, again trying differently balanced configurations since an aspect of incongruity is pleasing to the eye.

Now move to the hearth, the next area of your fireplace mantel decorating project. Balance is the name of the game when it comes to your hearth, so try a potted plant or topiary on either side of your fireplace mantel opening. Beautifully polished andirons also create a classic, balanced tableau. If your mantel displays candles, sculptures or vases in equal measure on each side, try shaking up the scene on your hearth with a stunning set of fireplace mantel tools at one end, and a gleaming wood holder at the other. Those who prefer a sleek, bare look can try a simple, striking clock or a headdress hung over the mantel.

mantel piece decorating is important even if you don’t use your fireplace surround regularly. Placing a candelabra inside your empty fireplace mantel adds a touch of personality and gives your fireplace mantel a polished look. Seasonal variations like a cornucopia in the fall, a basket of pine cones in the winter, flower arrangements in the spring and even a collection of sea shells and driftwood in the summer make your fireplace mantel a living element of your home.

As you move to the end of your decorating assignment, don’t forget form when thinking function. The very finish of your fireplace mantels tool set, wood holder, andirons and firebacks pull together your complete look. If your living room style is understated and elegant, polished brass pieces always look smart. If you have a more casual décor, copper, bronze and even black iron tools look stylish, not fussy. More contemporary? Nothing says ‘modern’ quite like brushed pewter. Underscore your favorite in finishes by choosing a matching fireplace surround screen, or the perfectly brilliant pair of glass mantel piece doors, which work well for masonry, prefabricated and firebox insert fireplace mantels.

Fireplace mantel decorating is the quickest, easiest way to pull together a total look for any room. If you create a warm, beautiful and inviting surroundings, you’ll find your fireplace mantel becomes a focal point around which your family can’t wait to draw together.

Fireplace Mantels Decorating Quick Tips:

* Paint the inside of your fireplace mantel with black mantel piece paint. This will cover any unsightly stains and make the opening look like new.

* Look to see if your mantle color competes with the overall look of your fireplace mantel. No mantel? Try a pretty wreath instead.

* Balance your accessories. Try a large mirror in the center and a topiary on each end. Or, a large picture in the middle and decorative vases or urns on each side. But remember, asymmetrical groupings can make attractive focal points, too.

* If you have a real wood burning fireplace mantel or wood stove, a hearth rug will protect your floor from falling embers. Decorative fireplace mantel tools are also a plus.

* If you don’t use your fireplace surround, you can still decorate for a stylish, easy look. Try a large fern in the opening, or a candelabra.

* Seasonal fireplace mantel decorating is always fun, and may be the easiest place to start. A assortment of grape vines, white lights, small pumpkins and gourds creates a great fall look. Re-use those white lights with greenery and red candles for the merriest mantel during Christmas.