The Most Beautiful Fireplace Mantels | White Mantels | Part I

Happy New Year!


I guess. Oh, it’s not that I don’t like the new year. I do like it, when it’s around the third week in April, after things have thawed out a bit.

It’s winter.

It’s cold.


Time to make a fire…

If I had a fireplace, but alas… I don’t.

However, I love fireplaces and especially those with gorgeous mantels.

Like this.

Jessica Goranson

I’m not fond of fireplaces like this.

Candice Olsen via HGTV

Don’t get me wrong. I ADORE Candice. She’s a doll and insanely talented. And she does do gorgeous mantels. She also does these types of fireplaces that are nothing but holes in the wall and they are not my preference.

Still… there’s really nothing like a cozy fireplace with an interesting mantel to anchor a room. It’s a focal point. It adds warmth, character and charm. And based on my post about 20 great fireplace mantel decorating ideas, y’all are pretty fond of them too!

BTW, you probably already realize that you CAN have a mantel, even if there’s no actual fireplace. More about that later on.

Since there’s so much to share, I’m dividing this subject into three parts.

Mantels are usually made of either stone or wood. If wood they are either stained or painted.

Today, I’m going to begin with a classic wooden mantel that’s painted white or off-white.



Future posts will cover stained wood and stone mantels. And finally mantels that are painted a color other than a shade of white.

First of all some rules of thumb when it comes to creating the most beautiful fireplace mantels
  • size. For me, less is usually more. But it’s also about proportion. It needs to be in proportion to the firebox as well as the room.
  • There needs to be a minimum of 6″ of stone surrounding the firebox. It can be more, but usually, unless it’s a really massive thing, I prefer 8″ or less.


Let’s begin with a classic white mantel by Phoebe Howard



beautiful-fireplace-mantelPhoebe Howard


Love the antique brass fender. The stone surround looks to be one that I’ve done many times which is absolute black granite— honed. What do y’all think about the interior? I do prefer it painted black or a deep color in this case.



From my favorite dining room. I have been so blessed to have been able to work on this architectural gem, built here in Bronxville in 1910. If you want to see the before photos of this dining room, you can find them here. And for more photos, please check out my portfolio!



 Furlow Gatewood

I’ve posted this recently, but it’s just that good.


Casa Decorada

Love the simplicity and scale of this white on white mantel. BTW, it’s not a real fireplace. It’s not deep enough.


beautiful-fireplace-mantelsPlum Interiors

Love the way the mantel integrates with the bookcases


beautiful-fireplace-mantelsNancy Meyers via Lonny Mag



Cath Kidston via: Lonny

I debated posting this one because it is a bit funky, but that’s why I like it!



 Eileen Kathryn Boyd via: Lonny

Eileen is also a fabulous fabric designer and is licensed with Duralee Fabrics. This mantel might actually be stone because this shape is usually stone. And yes, you can paint stone! Although, I don’t like rustic stone painted, usually.


beautiful-fireplace-mantelsWindsor Smith

That’s a very pretty grouping on the mantel. Not sure about the placement of the chandelier— haha! Maybe it’s an optical illusion? Seems a tad low, though, huh?


beautiful-fireplace-mantelsGiannetti Architects

I adore everything Brooke and Steve Giannetti do. Have you seen their spread in the Jan/Feb issue of Veranda? This is their old home from a few years ago.



Apartment Therapy

Interesting juxtaposition of the ornate Corinthian pilasters with the modern Herman Miller chairs.



Emily Meyer via: Lonny

Normally, I would say that the mantel is way out of proportion, but the design is so arresting that it works. There are always exceptions to the rules. And besides, the wallpaper is way cool!



The family room of one of my favorite clients in Chappaqua, NY


beautiful-fireplace-mantels Lonny Mag – photo by Patrick Cline


Style at Home



 Eddie Ross


Well, the snow has turned to rain… for now.

More mantels coming soon!


3 Responses

  1. We are having the same dreary weather in my neck of the woods, so a fire is really the best accessory to add a cozy feel. Some of the rooms don’t place the furniture to feature the fireplace. Do you think this is a missed opportunity or is that an example of how breaking the rules work? Happy New Year, thank you for this awesome blog!

  2. Hi Shelby,

    Thanks for the expert info and kind words! To tell the truth, I’ve only renovated what’s already there. My recollection from design school was that code was 6″ but I definitely see your point. Most of the time it’s at least 8″ of stone that we have to work with. On occasion however, it’s very heavy looking, so if there’s a way around it that will be safe, I prefer about 8″ on the sides and it can be a bit more on top.

    And yes, I checked and double-checked the spelling of “mantel” Even my spell checker got it wrong!

  3. My husband & I owned a custom mantel mfg. business for many years. Take care with clearances above the firebox! 8″ is really close and can cause a fire hazard depending on the size of the firebox and depth of the mantel skirt (that part below the crown cap). A roaring fire can cause the paint/wood to scorch, hence the hazard. The depth of the skirt and cap can trap the heat easily. We asked all clients who demanded closer clearances than 8″ on sides and 12″ above firebox to sign waivers. Many designers would say, “but old houses have minimal clearances.” True, but old-fashioned hand-crafted fireboxes are deeper than those made today. And, how many “chimney” fires there were back when! (Thanks for spelling “mantel” correctly, BTW.)

    Really, really enjoy your blog and your frank assessments! Happy New Year!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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