Rustic Fireplace Mantel Ideas

Natural and organic in style, rustic fireplace mantels are a great way to complement a variety of home styles and fireplace setups.

Rustic style means different things to different people. For some, rustic style may equal wood paneling and rough-hewn surfaces. For other homeowners, rustic may mean vintage or found reclaimed materials that are given new life. The variety of descriptions includes rustic fireplace mantels, too.

If your style leans plainer and simpler, then a rustic fireplace mantel may be a good fit. Before you dig through a woodpile for a piece of lumber, though, here are some considerations to review.

What is rustic? In general, something that's rustic has an organic, unfinished feel or motif -- something that's intentionally less finished than other more sleek materials. Many people think of rustic materials, such as fireplace mantels, as historic, however they can be new as long as their decorative elements stay true to the aesthetic.

Rustic fireplace mantels can be made of a number of different materials. Stone can feel rustic, as can certain metal forms. Chunky wood, when it is rough in finish, is often described as rustic, too. Repurposed materials may feel rustic, as can items that are painted or adorned with other decorative elements.

What are some rustic mantel considerations? Before you choose a material for your rustic mantel, it's important to consider a few things:

  • The rustic fireplace mantel finish. If you can, try to obtain a sample of the mantel material and see if it works well with your planned or existing decor. The color should be complementary, and the chosen material should feel in step with other items in the room.
  • The rustic fireplace mantel size. If you're replacing a mantel, the existing measurements may be a good base to work from. If you're adding a new rustic mantel, use painters tape to mark out the proposed mantel size and placement on the fireplace.
  • Proportion. Your rustic mantel should, of course, be in scale with the room and the fireplace. But proportion is more difficult to evaluate, especially if you're starting from scratch. In general, plan to leave about a foot between the top of the fireplace box and the bottom of the mantel. To determine the mantel's length, double the fireplace box width for a total that feels visually pleasing.
  • Securing the mantel. Some rustic mantel materials may be very heavy. Secure them properly to ensure they don't fall or crack.
  • Building codes. Many municipalities have specific regulations regarding fireplace mantel placement and size -- for example, a mantel may not touch a windowsill or doorway.

See a Fireplace Makeover in Action

See how this stuck-in-the-past fireplace became an up-to-date show-stopper with a few smart updates.

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