The Problem With the Ultimate Neoclassical Fireplace Mantel

Hi Everyone,

Below is the first, second, and third installment of this post about the ultimate neoclassical fireplace mantel. (Part 3 is the one to click if you’re opening this from 8.31.2023 and beyond, and you’ve read everything else. Or, you could read backwards like I often do. lol)

If you are here for the first time, please read part I first so that part 2 makes sense.

If you’re here for the first time, please click the link below to go to part 2

 

Part 2 Begins Here

 

Part 3 Begins Here

 

Part 1 of the post is below:

Well, the architectural plans are finished. There are some superficial details, like mouldings, that need some tweaking. However, one doesn’t need formal architectural plans to put up mouldings.
Now, we have to pray super hard that the draconian building department doesn’t make us add 15 inches to the length of the staircase. The verdict won’t be in for several more weeks.

 

So, what’s on Laurel’s mind this week, now that we have the sconces sort of sorted out?

 

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about the new fireplace mantel.

 

Oh, you’ve definitely decided to change it, Laurel?

 

I think so.

 

my charming naked fireplace mantel July 2023

 

😂

But, here’s the problem, and raise your hand if you can relate.

For the last three years, the following neoclassical fireplace mantel, Georgian, to be precise, is what I knew I wanted. Final answer.

 

William McLure-fireplace mantel

 

And, believe me. I would be ecstatically happy with this mantel that was in a former home of William McLure.

 

So, what is the problem? You love this fireplace mantel, Laurel; what is giving you pause?

 

It’s a few things. As many of you know, I love to feature the brilliant work of ABKasha on Instagram. They are the husband and wife geniuses who turn Parisian nightmares back to their former glory and then some.

 

One element they frequently share is their jaw-dropping neo-classical fireplace mantel vignettes.

 

AB Kasha on instagram - gorgeous Louis XVI mirror and marble neoclassical fireplace mantel surround
Sigh… We saw this in this post about mirrors over the mantel and what size mirror to get.

 

@idalindhag_photographer for @ABkasha on Instagram neoclassical fireplace mantel Louis XVI-style mantel and mirror
@idalindhag_photographer for @ABkasha on Instagram neoclassical fireplace mantel Louis XVI-style mantel and mirror

 

Clearly, the answer regarding mirror size is as big as possible.

 

These are both neoclassical fireplace mantels in the French Louis XVI style.  There are many variations on a theme. These beauties are usually made from lovely honed white Statuario (Statuary) or Carrara marble.

crown moulding soffit details door frame

 

They usually feature carved corner rosettes. (AKA, acanthus paterae end blocks, I just learned.) You can see an example of my new back kitchen cabinet above in an early iteration (long before I was working with Crown Point). The jambs (legs) may be curved like the one above or straight. There is usually fluting on the jambs and sometimes the architrave or apron. (The piece going across.)

 

In addition, there can be neoclassical carvings like the crossed laurel leaves above.

 

AB Kasha mirror and neoclassical fireplace mantel detail

One last detail of an ABKasha Parisian masterpiece neoclassical fireplace mantel vignette.

If you’re not already, please follow ABKasha on Instagram!

 

And then, there’s this Angel pianist taking a break from her heavenly duties to play for the rest of us earthly beings.

 

Lisa Frolova on Instagram - gorgeous Louis XVI-style fireplace mantel

As if that isn’t enough, she further knocks us out of our orbits by practicing in front of the most beautiful, antique Louis XVI neoclassical fireplace mantel adorned with golden statuettes.

Please enjoy the wonderful playing by Elizaveta (Lisa) Frolova. If you love this music as much as I do, please follow her on Instagram.

 

All we see are tiny glimpses of her gorgeous Louis XVI neoclassical fireplace mantel.

 

There’s a lot more music and her lovely mantel on her page. The girl has chops. And yes, I do realize she doesn’t use her fireplace, certainly not when it’s mere inches from her very expensive baby grand piano!

However, between the Kashas and Elizaveta Frolova’s charming Parisian “practice room,” I realize that my 19th-century historical home would adore having one of these gems.

Interestingly, most of these antiques were created in the 19th century, not the Louis XVI period at the end of the 18th century, thus making them of the style.

 

Okay, Laurel, they’re beautiful. This is, obviously, the type of fireplace mantel you’d like to have.  So, why don’t you just go with it and move on to something else?

 

Well, not so fast because there are some issues here. One of them is going with something on a whim! Right? Like everyone else, I need to plan this out– carefully!

Let’s go over the issues:

 

One, these neoclassical French mantels are not very tall.

 

Most of them are 40″-43″ tall. Part of their beauty, I think, is that they are not big, bulky things.

I was planning on doing a neoclassical mantel of the Georgian style. That’s roughly the same period as Louis XVI but in England. Those mantels were more commonly made of wood, and the styling, while still neoclassical, had different neoclassical elements. The Georgian fireplace mantels are more architectural.

 

So, many would say that I need a taller, hunkier mantel for my room. But, is that true?

 

While a fireplace mantel, no matter the style is on a wall, I still think of it as a piece of furniture attached to the wall.  And, as you may have heard me say a few times before, “Furniture exists for the people living in the room, not for the room itself.”

Of course, we have to work within the limitations of the space.

 

Photo Credits- Emily Followill, Robert Roth - Interior Design, Patricia McLean - architecture, William T Baker - neoclassical fireplace mantel - soaring ceiling

Patricia McLean Interiors

Photo Credits: Emily Followill, Robert Roth, Architecture William T. Baker

Above is a perfect example of a not-very-tall fireplace mantel happily sitting in this room with ceilings so high, they’re nowhere to be found. By the way, that mantel appears to be painted, so it’s either limestone, plaster, a composite material, or wood.

 

How can you tell how tall the mantel is, Laurel?

 

Well, I know these chairs are about 34″-35″ high. So, the mantel is between 40″ and 45″high.  My Georgian mantel was to be about 48″-50″.

While I don’t want something dinky, I also don’t need the mantel to be 50″ high. I think 45″ would still be okay, but not any lower because my wainscoting is 40″ high.

But, there’s more.

 

It’s the Massachusetts building codes, once again, coming to bite me in the arse.

 

There must be at least 12″ of non-combustible material, between the firebox opening and any wallboard or wood, on the top side of the opening. For most everyone else, the minimum is 6″. However, the sides, like the rest of the world, can be 6″.

This would not be a problem if I were doing an all-marble fireplace, as nothing is combustible. However, I’m afraid those antique neoclassical fireplace mantels will be too petite, which is where we started.

 

In addition, the neoclassic marble fireplace mantels I love do not exist in this country.

 

Or, if they do, they are at least $20,000. That is, for an antique. There are many gorgeous pieces in Europe for less, but getting them here is the issue. I made that mistake once and paid dearly for it.  

Oh, those old posts are so bad!

 

Anyway, the fireplace does not have to be made of marble.

 

It can be painted wood and maybe verrrrry lightly antiqued to mimic statuary marble. I don’t want to do plaster.

 

Laurel, there are many places in the US where you can get the kind of fireplace you’d like at a reasonable price.

 

Okay, if you know of any tasteful sources, I’d love to hear about them.

However, like most of the furniture I see being made, fireplace mantels of this type tend to be clunky or overly ornate. Another common issue is crowns that are way too big. Several don’t do that examples are in this post about the best mantel proportions.

Incidentally, I have devised a little trick to fake out the 12″ noncombustible requirement so that it won’t look like a mile of black marble below the white mantel.

 

I will share that on Monday night and also my favorite French neoclassical fireplace mantel design.

 

I plan on doing a scale drawing for the new mantel.

 

The other day, I batted my eyelashes, and my contractor said his guy could make it for me.  However, he said he needed to know the exact mouldings and precise measurements.

No problem! But, this is another compelling reason to do the French neoclassical mantel as opposed to the Georgian neoclassical fireplace mantel. The former is a lot less complicated than the Georgian.

 

New French Doors - Custom transom window

Besides, the carved corner paterae and the fluted jambs suit my place and fit in beautifully with the existing window and door casings. By the way, I got a quote for the French Doors and plain transoms I decided to go with. You can see them here.

 

I recommend that you sit down for this one. No, wait. Please drop gracefully to the floor first. I don’t want you to hurt yourself!

 

Not including installation, hardware, shipping, and Massachusetts sales tax, the quote was for $28,000.00. Yes, the doors are tall. (90″), and yes, they are custom, but I know exactly what I want. I GOT CRICKETS when I asked about a trade discount (twice).

I need custom doors with slender 3″ stiles. That’s a non-negotiable. So, if anyone knows of a great source that isn’t the place in Montague, Massachusetts, please let us know in the comments. I love that company’s doors. However, the silent treatment doesn’t work for me.

 

In the meantime, please enjoy these beauties I found on 1stdibs.

 

 

Marc Maison is another fantastic source that will keep you busy for a while. He has dozens of these beauties at a wide range of prices. But, they are overseas.

 

louis-xvi-style-mantel-in-carrara-marble-Marc Maison - ultimate neoclassical fireplace mantel

 

I love the iron inserts, but one doesn’t often find this in the USA. The neoclassical fireplace mantel is available through Marc Maison.

 

Jamb repro neoclassical fireplace mantel. Regency-style.
Finally, for today, I also love this fireplace mantel by Jamb. It’s not quite right for me, and I’m sure it’s way out of my price range. However, I think it’s perfect for this charming English country home.

Please stay tuned for more Monday evening!

 

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Part 2 Begins Here

It’s Monday evening. :]

Guys, some of you, anyway. We need to talk. But, before I do, please let me say, I love all of you to bits. And nothing I’m saying is even remotely personal. In addition, everything you sent is very much appreciated. (Please do not send links in your posts because it makes a lot of extra work for me.)

However, this is a little tough love because some of you are not getting the salient point of this post.

 

NEOCLASSICAL.

 

When I say neoclassical, I mean seriously neoclassical from the late 18th century and much of the 19th century. Many of you sent me sources that are anything but neoclassical. While I know you mean well, it’s not right for me.

To further confuse the issue, some sources may say it’s neoclassical, or Louis XVI. But, that doesn’t mean it is. I know. It should, but it depends on the source. Please understand that I studied this at length in design school. I had to trace furniture. Yes, trace antique pieces in a book.

And, I’ve been studying neoclassical furnishings ever since.

 

But, here’s what I need to stress even further.

 

My house is 143 years old and is part of the national registry of historic homes. How cool is that!

I have enormous respect for these antique homes. Unfortunately, there are many who either don’t know or don’t care. However, no matter the reason, many interiors around here have been raped of their character and turned into something they were never meant to be. That is on the inside.

The outside we’re not allowed to touch without the approval of the Back Bay Architectural Commission. I even had to get approval for my condenser in a private walled-in garden facing an alley filled with garbage cans and rats.

Let me put this another way.

 

I am trying to breathe old life back into a home that has suffered long enough from neglect or renovations that don’t do this grand building justice.

 

The fireplace mantel is the center of my home. I want it to look like it was put here 143 years ago. And, it needs to fit properly.

 

About the French doors.

 

While I don’t want to pay $28,000 for a pair of French doors, they also need to look like they’ve been here for 143 years.

Back then, for French doors, even very tall glass doors, the door frames (rails and stiles) were quite slim. The stiles (side pieces) were from 2.5″ – 3″ wide. Today, doors are made with stiles that are 4.5″-5″. That’s fine for a solid door. However, as you know, these are glass doors. And, each glass door is only 18″ wide. So, if the stiles take up 9 inches of the width, the pains of glass will also be 9 inches.

 

That is not going to work. It will look like a mistake. 12″  of glass is what I’d like to see.

 

My contractor says he has a source, Dorchester Door & Window. Their website doesn’t impress me, but I will talk to them. Still, I see no evidence of my elegant doors. Instead, I see a lot of talk about vinyl. Ummm…

Still, there must be another source in this huge country that makes custom doors the old-fashioned way, that returns emails, and isn’t price-gouging; especially when they will be getting a lot of great exposure on the blog. I know these doors aren’t going to be inexpensive. I was fully prepared to lay out 20k, but that would be the bottom-line price. Great, if someone can do them for less.

 

Okay, I need to finish this up.

 

But, please know, that I need unusual sizes, especially for the doors and transoms, and it is highly unlikely that what I need exists in an auction house or architectural salvage place.

 

This isn’t to say that getting items secondhand is a bad idea.

 

Not at all! 80% of the furniture I have is second, third, or fourth… hand. However, it is usually better to go with a custom option for things that need to fit precisely in a confined space.

Please also understand that I’m immensely grateful and touched by your kindness and wanting to help.

 

Okay, where does this leave us with the neoclassical mantel?

 

Well, I need to have it made.

As it happens, I have (exceedingly brave) friends who ordered a custom mantel from China and are thrilled with it.

It’s not neo-classical; it’s Rococo or Louis XV. Rococo is probably what most people associate with French design because of its curvy shapes.

So, today I asked them if they recommend the source; yes, they do. I have to say that the mantel is very nice. My friends sent a photo to the company in China, and they manufactured it in one month for $1,500 and then shipped it. Ahhh… that could easily be double the price of the mantel! But still, $4,500 for a great quality custom marble mantel and the design I want is a great deal.

 

Laurel, can we see the mantel?

 

Yes, of course! I do have permission to share it.

However, you’ll have to wait until Wednesday. I’ve spent hours working on the neoclassical fireplace mantel of my dreams. There are at least two variations on a theme. I love them so much!

 

But, in so doing, I discovered something else, I might need to change.

 

And, it’s original to the house. There are several compelling reasons to change it, in any case. Okay, I’ll tell you that one. It’s the wainscoting. It’s too high, too irregular and the boxes are too small. However, even with a 48″ mantel, the 40″ wainscoting looks even more odd. My furniture is not that tall!

So, the next two posts will be devoted to the final fireplace mantel design and then the entire fireplace wall elevation. That one, too, has yielded some interesting surprises. I’ve been working on it, and I can’t wait for you to see it.

If you’re interested, this link will take you to every time I’ve said neo-classical or neoclassical.
These are some of my favorite posts, and where I share my love of beautiful, timeless interiors.

 

 

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Part 3 Begins Here

Hi Everyone,

Super quick post.

Today, I went to look at marble for my kitchen counters, so I was gone the entire afternoon. No, I didn’t find what I’m looking for, but there’s more to see.

In the meantime, I’m still mulling around the fireplace mantel.

We left it with this image from about five weeks ago.

my fireplace wood mantel 48 h x 56 w - mirror 50 rendering July 2023

This is supposed to be the wood version of the marble mantel by Jamb which I’m sure is way out of reach for me.

Jamb repro neoclassical fireplace mantel. Regency-style.

This mantel. I adore this style. It’s English Regency, another neoclassical style, which is very close to Louis XVI because it’s the period following it from 1800-1830.

wooden Regency fireplace mantel in the manner of jamb

Above is a scale drawing I did for my contractor.

PLINTH BLOCK PEARLWORKS

I even found this gorgeous plinth block from Pearlworks.

Recently, I found another mantel almost identical to the antique Marc Maison lovely piece, below.

 

louis-xvi-style-mantel-in-carrara-marble-Marc Maison - ultimate neoclassical fireplace mantel

It’s doable, although expensive. However, it’s not nearly as much as most of the antique mantels I’ve seen. It’s about 123 years old.

My third option is to do what my neighbor did and have a repro made in China of the J*mb mantel. I love them both, but if pressed, I’d go with the Jamb. However, it’s possible that the Louis XVI mantel above, is better suited for my place. And then, there are the Laurel leaves.

 

So, here are the three choicesa for the ultimate neoclassical fireplace mantel.

 

1. My contractor builds a wooden version of the J*mb mantel. (Shhhh…)

 

2.I get the most expensive option, but it’s authentic, old and marble.

 

3. get a repro made of marble of the J*mb. (Shhhh…) I’m not spelling out J*mb because I don’t want it picked up.

A friend’s mantel is very well-done by a Chinese Company. It’s Louis XV which is too ornate for me. But, they did an excellent job of recreating the photo they sent them. However, the marble is verrrry white. It does not look old.


Above is their mantel, which they kindly gave me permission to put on my blog.

 

A detail shot.

 

Above is a detail of the original.

This is the order I find these options appealing.

2

1

3

The only drawback for #2 is the price. However, it is the central focal point of the living room. Still, my contractor, I’m sure could make an excellent version of the J*mb mantel out of wood with the plinth block above.

 

Please tell me what you think. I will look forward to hearing your thoughts!

xo,

Please check out the recently newly HOT SALES! Huge Holiday Shopping WEEK. Incredible sales. Melissa updated everything today and more will be added for tomorrow’s HOT SALES!

 

***Also, endless thanks for your incredible support and kind suggestions from last Monday’s post.

 

One terrific idea was to put an Amazon link on my home page. So, that is what I’ve done.  And, you’ll also find a link here. There is also a banner link in the blog sidebar.

 

This is what I said (below):

 

Please note that this website is a free service. However, it’s very expensive to run. To provide this content, I rely on you, the kind readers of my blog, to use my affiliate links whenever possible for items you need and want. There is no extra charge to you. The vendor you’re purchasing from pays me a small commission.

Amazon ad

To facilitate this, some readers have asked me to put

A link to Amazon.com on my home page.
Please click the link before items go into your shopping cart. Some people save their purchases in their “save for later folder.” Then, if you remember, please come back and click my Amazon link, and then you’re free to place your orders. While most vendor links have a cookie that lasts a while, Amazon’s cookies only last up to 24 hours.

Thank you so much!

Your support of my work and website means the world to me!

 

149 Responses

  1. I wanted to send you a photo of my fireplace from my condo on Marlborough, which was original to the house but I don’t think I can attach a photo to my comment. If you want to see it, just email me and I’ll send it along.
    Soooo fun.

  2. I love the antique idea too however the cost would put me off. Perhaps your contractor could point you in the direction of a craftsman outside the city who does quality work. The style you want would be easy enough to use simple saws and routers thus cutting back on labor costs. The contractor could arrange for delivery, he could install it and the money you saved over an antique marble mantle might be substantial. Then you could have a nice open house party and invite all of your friends, use a favorite caterer and play chamber music from the era of your building.

  3. I think it’s nearly unanimous, thus I don’t need to weigh in, but #2. YES! Go with your heart. #2 is sensual and beautiful, and warm. The marble is such a nice texture to add with all the beautiful wood in your house. All the romantic transcendentalists of 1820s-1830s Boston would agree wholeheartedly!!

  4. Guys, Thank you so much for all of your kind suggestions. I spoke to my contractor the other day via text and asked him if he didn’t have to make the fireplace mantel would he be relieved, disappointed, or didn’t care much one way or the other.

    Without hesitating, he wrote back:

    “Relieved.”

    Well, there it is.

  5. I agree with your order except take #3 off the table, don’t sell your soul. Now, picture yourself relaxing in front of your new fireplace, enjoying the view…then imagine thinking how beautiful it is “but” I wish I splurged on the original marble. Regret will be more painful than the savings. Scrimp somewhere else. 🙂

  6. Although #2 is beautiful, you already have enough going in in this room and need the room to be seen in the whole rather than one element trying to take center stage. So my personal opinion is to go with #1.
    Enough has been said by the other commenters as to why I wouldn’t chose #3.
    I will look forward to your discussion as to why you have already chosen the one you prefer.

  7. Hi Laurel,

    Would a totally marble fireplace be too heavy for your floor… just askin’, I have no expertise.
    If you go with your specific detailed wooden fireplace, would a marble mantel be out of place or unacceptable to you?
    I did wonder about the reader’s comment regarding paint and marble color variations and if they would be unacceptable to you. I am not knowledgeable about design but a perfectionist.
    If marble has you pining for it, you only live once. Would you get your money’s worth on resale? If you are planning on staying here for MANY years, get what you REALY want. My husband and I waited to travel after retirement. He died a year later. Lots of regrets. Be thrilled with your choice Girlfriend!

  8. I agree with the others that#2 is the best choice. It is unique and lovely. It fits your home perfectly. You will never tire of it and it will give you joy. You have worked so hard to find just the right elements for your remodel. The fireplace is a focal feature. It has to be right. If you can possibly afford it, don’t skimp on the mantle.

  9. Laurel, I have read everything you have done with the renovation and plans at least 3 times. I think you will never regret it if you buy the “OLD but expensive” fireplace. It is stunningly beautiful and you would never tire of it…. All the best – love the blog!

  10. Get a quote on the real deal. Then you have the facts. If you’re truly budget constrained have your contractor build yours. During remodeling stuff comes up and you need the wiggle room to pay for it.

  11. Laurel must decide: “what to do”,
    To go with fireplace “One”, or “Two”,
    She knows what’s in her heart
    (so… no rhyme for this part)
    But her budget, me thinks, just grew!
    😊

  12. It’s a tough call between #1 and #2, but I think, like the majority of the responses, I would choose #2, for the other reasons stated. I believe several of the commenters are misunderstanding #3. If I understand correctly, which I believe I do, #3 would be the style of #1 but reproduced in China out of marble similar to your neighbor’s, not the STYLE of your neighbor’s as some commenters seem to be understanding. The one consideration I would have about #2 is whether the marble coordinates with the marble you are considering for the kitchen, but I’m sure you’ll work that out. I haven’t commented in quite a while, but I’ve been following the reno avidly.

  13. If you never plan on moving (they say, never say never), but if you are in your forever home, pick your favorite because you will never be sorry 🙂 It’s worth it and you are worth it!!

  14. Ok, I kow this is more time consuming, but have you tried salvage? A lot of this is time consuming, but it is usually much less expensive and most companies are open to negotiation. It’s also possible there are some in your area that have period appropriate mantels! My personal preference is to use old house parts when possible and so fun just looking! I would say give it a go and set a time limit for your looking as you already have options!

    1. Hi Betty-Ann,

      It’s not feasible, for me. For one thing I don’t have a car. But, really, while I know and can appreciate that others love running around, it’s not my thing. I’d rather figure out how to make more money to pay for what I want and is readily available. I have found some of my treasures when I wasn’t looking for them. But that’s different.

      Also, there is still so much I have to do and should have done already.

  15. Hi Laurel,
    As someone who has moved four times in less than three years (two rentals), and renovated two houses in the same time frame (the first was more of a refresh except for the lanai, this current (and permanent) home was a complete renovation) there is one thing I learned. Go with your original instinct. In the end, we went back that we originally wanted probably 95% of the time and are thrilled with our home. If we had not second guessed ourselves we would have saved ourselves a lot of stress and aggravation, not to mention time.
    Your home is going to be fabulous whatever you choose and I can’t wait to see the result!

  16. Agree with others, the (marble mantel) leaves are lovely and that entire effect (with the iron firebox) compliments your railing. Can you choose the wood mantel but only if built in the style of your marbel mantel example, with leaves, black iron firebox etc? And then add a beautiful marble topper? Save a little $ and still have the effect you want?

  17. No. 2! Maybe 1 but not 3. What if you have the marble mantle reproduced in wood and then have it painted your choice of white (not faux-marble since you said it would cost as much as getting the marble peice itself) if the price difference is significant. I think it would look better than #1 and I’m pretty sure we have enough talented artisans to make it.

    I’m sure you’ll make the right decision in the end.

  18. I really like #2, it seems like you even though I don’t know you except through the blog. I also think the contractor could do a great job and that would also look lovely. When I built a home in 98, I had the cabinet company build a custom fireplace combining 3 photos I had saved from various magazines. They did a great job, I never tired of it and when I sold the house 20 years later, it still looked great! Can’t wait to see what you decide.

  19. Hi Laurel! The vintage and repurposed elements.in my home are my favorites. If at all possible install a vintage mantel into your beautiful home. (HELLO SPONSORS!! Big opportunity right here!!). And Laurel, many many thanks for providing all of us with the most deliciously detailed, gorgeous, hilarious and educational entertainment! I am completely captivated😊

  20. It’s the innards of the mantels my eyes gravitate to, that part where the mantel frame transitions to the fireplace opening and its surround? Number 3 looks like fancy heels worn with worsted wool boot socks to me — the mantel doesn’t match the innards. And number 1 looks like an electric faux-fireplace stuck inside a pretty frame — again, my eyes see a disconnect. Number 2 is beautiful both for the mantel and the gorgeous curved, embossed innards.

  21. IMO, the custom wood mantel would give you exactly what you are looking for as far as detailing with your exact specs. It would be in the custom color you choose and would be timeless as is all your wood molding and other architectural features. The knock-off marble would be too much of the unknown, color variation, arriving with chips or breaks and the wait could be lengthy not to mention the added expense of customs and documentation. Several years ago, we ordered a custom piece from Italy, and it took 22 weeks! Looking forward to seeing your choice; Good luck!

    1. Hi Gillian,

      I’ve come a long way… but sorry, no crowbars for this old girl. And, also, it’s going on three years now, I want to get this DONE and enjoy it for as long as possible. That’s what makes the most sense for me.

  22. Not #1 – You’ll always wish it was #2.
    Yes #2 – You’ll cherish it and it will be exactly what you wanted. Also, laurel!!
    No #3 – It won’t be what you wanted, it’ll be close. You don’t like “close”.

    Can’t wait to learn what you have chosen and why.

  23. Hi, Whatever you choose, I’m sure your house will thank you and so do I. I agree that renovating these beauties for most means stripping them of their innards and that’s a damn shame. I often watch a design show on Sunday mornings something NYC where they show you beautiful homes and when they take me through most brownstones I want to puke. Everything removed and replaced with sleek modern crap, why? Just go buy something NEW! Another perfect example that I still ruminate over is the Chadd’s Ford Tavern in Chester Co. Pa., It was such an iconic place that had the most beautiful original bar that our dear president George Washington visited often. The wood work in that room, full of fabulous detail was luscious as were the other rooms used fro dining. You could sit in there by candlelight and harken back to the days of the revolution, but alas new YOUNG owners bought it and stripped it down to the bare stone walls. They are very proud of their new restaurant, Brandywine Prime,you can check it out for yourself but they destroyed one of the last remaining vestiges of that time without a bit of remorse. So sad and irreplaceable.Why oh why? So you go girl and do your best and I will follow along and applaud you every step of the way.

  24. Laurel: I don’t typically comment since I’ve never felt I could contribute much more than your other readers but I went back to your vision for the living room space and really focused on all the woodwork adjacent to the fireplace. In your rendition, the woodwork looks quite white but ever so slightly warm white (not stark but bright still). As much as I understand being attracted to such a gorgeous and old marble mantle (#2), I was trying to envision what impact it will have on your color scheme overall (particularly your woodwork) since that marble looks considerably creamier — and you seem to favor lighter and brighter. Working with a wood mantle is a seamless aspect and you don’t have to wonder what it will really look like in place. Plus your design for the mantle is absolutely stunning (there is good reason why you love it so much. Sometimes it’s good to remember.) Also I did notice the word “budget” in one of your earlier replies which is a good reminder that there will be so many things, before you are done, that will stretch the budget and you may wish you saved on the mantle so you could feel more comfortable splurging elsewhere — like in that gorgeous kitchen? (Or some unknown issue with the stairwell … but we won’t go there.) YOUR design choice in wood for the mantle checks off a lot of boxes and provides a cushion for the unknown. Seems like a win-win to me. Looking forward to seeing the evolution continue!

  25. I don’t think you will ever regret going with #2. It’s antique. It’s marble. It represents you with the Laurel leaves. And it fits in with the age and aesthetic of your home. If you go with #1, I think you will regret not going with marble. And if you go with #3, I think you will be disappointed that the marble doesn’t look old. Years from now, you will not remember how much you spent for the mantel. All you will think about is whether or not you went with the choice that you really loved.

  26. #2, I know this is really all about you! But, I’m in a similar conundrum and absolutely love your neighbors mantel. Would you mind seeing if the has more pics and who they used?

  27. Number 2 is the only choice for authenticity to the building and to your heart. If it was completely unaffordable, it would not still be included as a choice.
    Wood would be beautiful, but only if it was handcrafted by an artisan that lived 140 years ago, otherwise, I think it would always look too new.

  28. Thank you for bringing us along on this ride! Options 1 and 2 are my favorite, with 2 coming out on top, if your budget allows. Also I’m assuming the measurements are all correct for the fireplace opening and scale of space. I like 2 better not just for its beauty, but also because it has the character and patina of age. I might be the only one, but I will miss your old mantel, which had all kinds of character. 🙂 Maybe you could put it in your bedroom as a faux fireplace.

  29. I really like #2. I like the proportion of the mantel with the concave black surround. Something about your drawing with the wooden mantel causes it to recede, not stand out. But maybe that’s the goal, so the focus is the artwork?

    When I tried 40+ violin bows, I knew the best choice. When I tried 2 violins, to the exasperation of my teacher, I knew the best choice also. It just “belonged”. I’d pick what “belongs.” I’m sure you know … just like the x railing decision!

    Happy choosing!

  30. Another number 2 vote! A fireplace is the perfect place to splurge in the living room. Also is the surround cast iron? If so you might get better heat transfer to the room with a metal surround than stone.

  31. Hi Laurel …. Lots of great comments about what you will love to look at every day …. But I would add imagine running your hand over your beautiful mantel. Which one will touch your soul and take your breath away every time. Your home is beautiful you will choose the one that speaks to your heart.
    Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  32. While your walls are opened up, please put a time capsule inside with photos for future owners to discover!

    Loving the progress here!

  33. Number 2!!! I agree with the majority that you will regret it later if you don’t do this option. The marble is so pretty and will create a stunning focal point!

  34. If at all possible I would go with #2. #1 will also be beautiful but since you now know that #2 is available (and pretty much perfect) I am afraid if you don’t get it you will always be looking at #1 and wish you had gone with #2. . . I know I would. Perhaps you can postpone some of your decorating elements to allow for this if you are having to shuffle the budget to allow. Like you said, it will be the focal point. This Reno is going to be breathtakingly beautiful!

  35. If it was me, I would wait until the project is complete before I made a decision. Then take a look at how much money you have left & decide accordingly. Maybe you’ll find you can afford #2 after all. And in the meantime think about ways you can cut back so the perfect mantel can be yours.

  36. I adore your friends mantel. Also, are you really doing marble countertops? You’ve probably done a post on this, but what about spills and stains? If course, if you are like me, 66 and don’t cook anymore it’s much less risky, right.

  37. My choice is #2. I like the added heft of the top and the laurel leaves soften the design. Besides, what is more personalized than that! Your room has a lot of wood with the wainscoting and other woodwork; a marble mantel adds another dimension.
    Since this is the focal point of your room, if you can afford the marble one, get what makes your heart sing. This isn’t a place to cut cost on or to settle for something that is okay but not what you love. You’ll regret not getting it.

  38. I love that you are doing a restoration/remodel…if your house could thank you, it would. As I’m in one if my own, I know what it’s like to have the inner struggle between design wants, doing the right thing for the vintage property, and the ever present dream-design-busting budget. You have an amazing cabinet company, and an amiable, seemingly talented contractor. Because you have marble countertops going in, and by your description, its not an enormous property, I’d nix the Chinese mantle, unless you have someone who is good at faux finishing, which would be an additional expense. It’s too stark white, in comparison to what I believe your countertops will be. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the gorgeous vintage mantle, with it’s charm is a no go too. Partially, because you may move someday, and it won’t go with you. You have exquisite taste. With all of your attention to scale and graceful proportions, I believe you can build something lovely that suits the neoclassic design direction, and, here’s the best part…you have a blast dressing it with gorgeous items that elevate the space, with money you saved by not buying the antique mantle. I believe the best design (sort of like sculpting)is thinking three dimensionally, and being able to stand in an empty room and experience what everyone will see when your project is complete. I think you’ve been hitting home runs so far with stair railings, french door proportions, etc. I’d have your contractor make your mantle, once you have the panel wainscot dimensions figured out. As for height, I personally like tall mantles. If They’re low, and most if the rooms furnishings are low, I feel like an opportunity to add some drama to the room is somehow lost…but again, just my opinion. You must be getting very excited as your project progresses. Thank you for sharing:)

  39. Whoops– A CORRECTION TO WHAT I JUST WROTE; (The mantels aren’t really numbered– very confusing). The last one #3 is just too cold, white, and veining is almost non-existent.
    HERE’S the corrected version:
    I think the look of the Marc Maison mantel, is much better than the one illustrated in your drawing of the English Regency mantel because it has better proportions. The J*mb mantel surface itself is just one skinny horizontal slab. To my eye, that just stands out as being too thin a member and suggests they’re cheapening the item by using less marble. Look above and you’ll see that ALL the other mantels you like have a thicker slab, with horizontal fluting below– a much more pleasing, balanced appearance, much like a crown molding.

    And if you could have the Marc Maison mantel style made out of wood and painted to resemble marble, why not? Best of both and easier on the budget. And there is a long tradition of marbleizing or graining (aka “faux”)woodwork– they’ve done it in the US since the 18th century at least.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      I realize that the Jamb mantel top is thin with a reeded edge.That is authentic to the time period, not a way of cutting corners. Sometimes there are three reeds instead of the two on this piece.

      Good faux marble is going to cost as much as getting the real thing. It’s a laborious process to do it right. I took a course once from the best, Robert Hoven.

  40. I think the look of your last choice, #3, is much better than #2 because it has better proportions. On #2, the J*mb mantel surface itself is just one skinny horizontal slab. To my eye, that just stands out as being too thin a member and suggests they’re cheapening the item by using less marble. Look above and you’ll see that ALL the other mantels you like have a thicker slab, with horizontal fluting below– a much more pleasing, balanced appearance, much like a crown molding.

    And if you could have this 3rd mantel style made out of wood and painted to resemble marble, why not? Best of both and easier on the budget. And there is a long tradition of marbleizing or graining (aka “faux”)woodwork– they’ve done it in the US since the 18th century at least.

  41. Good evening Laurel. Sounds like you are having fun. In a prior home I had a marble mantel nearly identical to your second selection in marble. A reproduction from Architectural Accents in Atlanta. I don’t have a readily available image but you can check my old listing and see it. 135 Steeplechase Lane/ Nashville. This was 20 years ago but they still have this resource. Price was reasonable. Have fun!
    JoAnne Haynes

  42. Only you can decide what you would love best.
    If it were my apt., I’d have a painted wood mantle made according to your specs by the contractor. No fuss no muss like ordering from China and keeping fingers and toes crossed it till it arrives. I’d save the money from the marble ones and use it for something else. I find marble fireplaces optically cold, not as cosy as a painted wood mantle. Of course that’s just me, and yet I also understand wanting an authentic period-piece in marble as a statement in the living area..
    Whatever you choose it will be beautiful!

  43. Hi Laurel,

    First of all tank you for responding to my last comment a while back – with asbury as you are I appreciated it.

    As far as your mantel goes: Of the three you show, the the first one should be the last choice. There is elegance in simplicity but this one does not cut it – it is too pedestrian – anyone could make one with stock mouldings, a hand saw and a glue gun. I do not see you as the sort of person who would like that. Plus the mantel shelf looks too thin. If the mantel is the focal point of your room – this is not a focal point design. The second mantel looks very nice – there is thought behind its design, there is skill in its manufacture. It is something to look at but not over powering. Would the firebox be firebrick, metal panel lined, tiled or have a summer cover? Would it be a functioning fireplace? The third mantel you show is not bad at all for Made in China(I’ve seen much worse where the details are quite sloppy). I have seen this design used authentically in a couple 1900 era houses near me. Its’ ornateness is a taste thing. Could it be too busy for you? Is there by any chance an original fireplace still existing somewhere in your building? This could give you a clue as to what design would work well with the rest of your space – window/door mouldings etc. In the old days everything worked together as far as woodwork goes.

    Regarding your French doors: it would seem your heart is set on two doors per opening but, had you ever considered one door for each door opening with leaded glass instead – say three glass panes wide and however many high? Maybe half inch wide lead. Wonder about the bulk of all the wood especially when the two doors are closed – the center will be the widest part.

    Will leave it here for now. Sorry to write so much.

    Thanks for sharing your journey : )

  44. Wood please. Save your dough for the marble in the kitchen, the price of which will make you dizzy. Hard no to that white marble from China.

  45. You are only going to do this once. You know what your heart wants. Follow it and you will never be sorry.

  46. If you set up a Go Fund Me site I will donate to your “mantle cause”. You can then have your heart’s desire. You deserve it for all the enjoyment you bring us!

  47. This is a tough one. #3 is very white, which might bother you more and more over time…unless you could age it with glaze or acid or something. That is iffy but AldonChem has some chemicals and short directions to change the surface (but I don’t know if it changes the color). So, maybe eliminate #3 and choose between 1 and 2. Though I typically eschew the costlier choice and I do love the simpler wood mantle, in this case I would seriously consider the Laurel leaves…because Laurel! And aged. And beautiful without being too much, the focal point when you are seated there. Are there places you could economize? A simpler kitchen counter? Less expensive hardware? Wait to buy some rugs? If so — then go for it!

  48. Laurel, to me there’s no question. Has to be the antique one. You have to decide for yourself, though, which one you will look at for decades and never regret. You know inside which one that is for you.

  49. While not being nearly as talented and knowledgeable as you dear Laurel I’m going with the wood mantle. Basis is I LOVE painted molding! For me a painted mantle provides a warmth that a stone one doesn’t. You have such wonderful painted architectural details through out your home and soon to be kitchen a wood mantle would tie it all together. And the price is better! Regardless of your final decision all will look and feel
    lovely.

  50. After your decision on the blog to go…2,1,3, it must be very hard to consider all the new suggestions from your readers.
    I love your choice of 2, especially the Laurel leaves on the mantle, its so personal and adds the extra designer touch. (As if the whole remodel doesn’t have the designer touch already;)

  51. I would go for the wood one your contractor can make. My preference for a fireplace surround is wood. Just feels right.

  52. I vote for laurel leaves for Laurel! I think it looks the best. Besides, if you came across an actual antique marble piece that’s just perfect for your home, and even if it’s expensive but you can afford it, then I think you were meant to have it. You will be staring at this mantel for the rest of your life, put one in that makes your heart sing every time you glance at it.

  53. Hi Laurel, There is a YouTube channel called Finish Carpentry TV. He has made some lovely doors for his own home and he also collaborates with Brent Hull on some beautiful homes. He lives in Texas, but maybe he might be amenable to collaborate with you on your door project. I am excited to see your finished home.

  54. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Adams Architectural Millwork Co. They have been around for a long time and their work is frequently featured in the highest-quality historic renovations around the country. adamsarch . com They are based in Iowa.

    You can also look at Traditional Building magazine’s building guides: traditionalbuilding . com /buying-guides/doors-windows-shutters/doors-entryways-wood. Old House Journal also has a building guide, geared a bit more towards homeowners: oldhouseonline . com doors-windows-shutters

    Just a thought–could you put in structural or laminated glass in the hand railings, sort of like you would do a window or a metal door?

  55. You studied in school, you practiced your art for years and now it all culminates in this exquisite home. It is your PhD! Reading about your attention to detail and your desire for authentic pieces is inspiring! You have taught all of us what a professionally trained designer can do.
    You will figure this out. Remember, this is your masterpiece. Kudos and thank you for sharing.

  56. From Europetoyou is actually located in Saugerties NY, so you could go pick it up if you were worried about shipping

  57. Laurel,

    Have you tried, (I know of al the unlikely places) the “from Europe to you” shop on Etsy? They have a lot of gorgeous French marble fireplaces, some as little as 3k and free shipping? Good reviews as well.

  58. Hi there Laurel… love your blog and understand you’re making some changes for very good reasons. Any chance you could add some sort of link so we can jump more easily to the new portions of your posts, without having to scroll? I keep fearing I’ll scroll too far! Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      That’s a terrific idea, but, I don’t have the ability to link to a specific point in a post, only to another post or page on the website.

      I have put the starting point in a bright color. However, I just added a big row of asterisks that hopefully will be more eye-catching.

  59. There is a place on Route 202 in Mechanicsville, Pa. (near Doylestown). It’s called Best of France. 50,000 sq. ft of architectural pieces, furniture, sconces, statuary, etc., 19th and 20th century. The last time I was there I did see gorgeous fireplace mantels. They also have some very odd, eccentric pieces. I spoke with the owner who told me they buy in France and ship many things over at once. You might want to check it out, the owner does reduce prices, he offered a $5000 armoire to me for $4000. The inventory is amazing. The website doesn’t do it justice at all and I’ve read it’s difficult to get him on the phone, the kind of place you really need to visit but I’m sure you’d be enchanted with it. You’re probably too busy now Laurel, but if you ever have a chance to come to Bucks County, Pa. it’s definitely a spot to visit.

  60. Architecturalcomponentsinc.com makes custom doors per their website. May or not be helpful. I was listing all your parameters and found them.

  61. Forgive me if someone mentioned this already, but have you checked if Brent Hull’s Millwork company would be able to create the French doors you want? I love his passion for period authentic restoration.

  62. Irion furniture Company, they will make you anything you want, in PA. We used them for a poster bed,
    and it was perfect. They do incredible work. It’s listed as a lumber company when you get to the website but dig deeper for the furniture information. Theres articles about them on the web. Very credible company.

  63. Laurel,

    Drive to the closest Amish community and ask who makes doors, kitchens, furniture. There’s often 3 or more. Look at all their work and stick with the one you prefer.

    Some Amish men are uncomfortable dealing directly with a lone woman without a man. I had several that wouldn’t shake my hand.

    We had all our custom windows, doors, furniture, cabinets and upholstery made by WNY Amish.

    You MUST be very very specific about every single detail and dimension. Bring samples they can touch and see, photocopies of samples, be specific of the materials. Eg kiln dried white/soft maple, colour of paint etc. Be prepared to source and have delivered to Amish the glass, hinges, clips, door handles, primer & paint.

    Don’t expect them to meet deadlines. We’ve had delays because of having to cut ice for winter, deer hunting for winter food, or helping build a members home and barn after a fire.

    Do NOT photograph the Amish or their children.

    Do expect to save a ton of money. A ton.

    Be humble because they are shy. They do not have electricity, internet or phones. Sometimes they borrow a phone from an “Englush” friend & might leave you a cryptic message with no return phone number. Or they’ll write you a letter.

    It can be frustrating but some can do fantastic work and save you a ton of money.

    I used to own a custom lumber milling & cabinet making shop with ex. Now I’m Amish all the way.

    Did I mention you can save a ton of money? You might even be able to find someone to make your sconces.

  64. I also sent this in an email, but in case anyone else has a need, we used Vintage Doors (website is both words together with a .com after) to custom build a front door for our office which is in a historic house. Our original door had developed structural issues after 110+ years of service, so this company replicated ours for under 5K. This was about 4 years ago. Were very responsive.

  65. Hi Laurel,
    I hope you find exactly what you’re looking for. I know how it feels when you settle for something.
    Since I don’t know your timeline on acquiring your doors or mantel, do you have to have them before your renovation is completed? Can they be purchased & installed later? If so, it would give you time to find them. And/Or save up for them.
    It’s nice to read the suggestions so many of your readers are able to provide you.

  66. Here’s my French door story. We owned an absolutely beautiful historic home that was in a protected historical neighborhood. We took restoring it seriously and spent countless hours researching and sourcing craftsmen and materials. And this was before the internet when finding people and things was a more tedious process. Anyway, the living room had 5 sets of French doors that were breathtaking. The doors themselves were 9 feet high and above that were transoms. And, get this, they had what amounted to phantom screens. Age and neglect required us to replace them. I distinctly remember the heated argument with our craftsman about how small the stiles and frames were. We were uncompromising. They were all rebuilt using the original dimensions with the exception of the depth which we increased only enough to accommodate marginally thicker glass. We sold the house when we became empty nesters…2 people in 14,000 square feet didn’t make sense. The people who bought it from us sold it again and we were invited back by the current owners. Imagine how we felt when we saw that the couple who bought it from us had torn out the rebuilt French doors and replaced them with what looked like Marvin white vinyl doors. Back of the house so preservation people couldn’t see I guess.
    Stick to your guns Laurel. You’ll write the check to do it right and you can maintain your integrity. Trust me it will be worth it.

  67. Laurel, when we lived in St Louis, I purchased 2 antique stained glass windows that I needed to have resashed so they could be installed in the house we were having built. I consulted the yellow pages and made a lot of phone calls, and ultimately found a man that had a workshop filled with old equipment who was able to replace the sashes with period correct new sashes. It seems to me that if such a person existed in St Louis, surely there must be some craftsman in Boston who could custom make your doors for you. As I recall, this man did not have a website. If you want me to look up his contact info, please let me know.

  68. Hello Laurel, Since you have a good idea of what you want and how to get it, I’ll just tell you about my own stone fireplace mantel. I was at an antique show that had some salvage from a mansion torn down in southern Ohio. They had a marbleized slate mantel and a black walnut staircase with elaborate newel post, $75 each. The ceilings in that house must have been about twenty feet! I passed (with regret) on the stairs, but bought the mantel. I know, marbleized slate, but let me assure you that this was THE marbleized slate mantel, although Eastlake in style rather than neo-classical. How I got that monster home I’ll never know. The mantel shelf alone was very deep and wide, and inches thick. I thought it would inspire me to look for an old house–it could even be installed on a wall just as decoration. However, that never happened and I ended up giving it to a friend who had just bought a Victorian building.
    –Jim

  69. Been biting my tongue on this mantel thing because my husband & I owned an architectural millwork company that specialized in mantels, both stock & custom. Alas, we sold it over a decade ago & the new owners went bankrupt. I digress. But a couple of things: If you end up with wood, pls. adhere to the cited firecode. The 12” clearance above the box is VERY important to keep the wooden mantel’s underside from charring, warping, bubbling and/or igniting, not to mention burning down your building entirely. It’s frightening how hot (& how fast) the underside of a mantel can become with real wood burning firebox. Also, if you have a custom carved piece done (wood or stone), ask to see real examples of their work. We imported hundreds of carved millwork pieces from Mexico, Central America, Indonesia, China and Vietnam with varying degrees of success. Many if them were “in the style of/interpretations of” but to the discerning eye (that’s you, Laurel), most were poor imitations of the French or English ideal you desire. For example, we learned that different islands in Indonesia have VERY different styles of carving. After sending them real examples of what we wanted, only one in five came back with a passable copy. Caveat emptor! Lastly, THANK YOU for using the correct spelling for fireplace MANTEL. So many in the design trade use the term “mantle”. That’s a covering, drape or cloak-like reference. With all the work and research you’ve put into this remodel, I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. It’s going to be a show stopper!

    1. Hi Shelby,

      Re: the 12″ I don’t have a choice. If there isn’t 12″ of non-flammable material, the building inspector will make us rip the entire thing out and start over. However, thank you for the information.

  70. Sounds like MA code is more strict than IRC. Another requirement is that combustible material at 12” cannot project more than 1 1/2” from the front face of the opening. Makes designing mantel surrounds with generous pilasters and bases challenging, unless there’s an inordinate amount of space around the fireplace.

    We ran into this when we rebuilt our fireplace and finished it with Pewabic tile. We were limited to only 10” of clearance around our opening, which means combustible material cannot project more than 1 1/4”. We resorted to a simple Federal style to make it work. While Pewabic tile is not inexpensive, designing and building the mantel myself amazingly cost only $200 in materials for popular and Baltic birch!

    1. Hi Joe,

      They claim to go by the IRC, however, when I read the IRC, there are provisions for historical homes, and also that the code is followed in spirit, but necessarily to the letter. In Boston, they don’t seem to care too much about the interiors as long as they are by the book, code-wise.

  71. Hi Laurel,
    Try contacting Vintage Wood Works in Texas for your custom French doors. They might be able to help you. They are a family owned business specializing in Victorian architectural details. I know that’s not the style you want, but they make doors and will do custom work as well.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Well, my home is Victorian, but Victorian encompasses many styles. I guess most of us associate it with gingerbread decor, but there’s not a lick of that here in Boston. It looks more like Federal and Greek Revival styles, for the most part. Anyway, thanks a lot. I’ll check them out.

  72. Do you think Crown Point might be up to making the doors? They make glass cabinet doors but I know entrance doors are a different animal. Maybe they might know of someone?

    Sorry for my previous post with a link, I didn’t realize. I won’t do it again.

    1. Hi Robin,

      Yes, I did ask my kitchen designer, and she said they’d have to outsource them. I told her I had a good source, or so I thought. But, that’s a good idea. I’ll reach out to her again.

  73. I love your posts! I’m excited to see your home completed. I know it will be lovely! I recently watched Classic Homes on Discovery+. They showed 3 houses in New England. One tour was Beacon Hill. I immediately noticed the sconces. They stood out, because I had just watched your sconce posts. Good Luck with the renovations!

  74. I do not have sources to share, but I wanted to mention that my Connecticut house (1760 with an 1880 addition) has a fireplace with a fully metal surround that’s not so different from the English one shared above — so they did exist here. Some documentation that came with my house says that it is called a Fire Frame. They first appeared in a Boston Directory in 1830 and were sold at least until 1857, but they are believed to be an exclusively New England phenomenon.

    1. Hi Amber,

      Oh, how interesting and it makes sense being Boston and most of New England had so much English influence. I don’t recall seeing these in any of the Boston homes I’ve been in, so either I didn’t notice, entirely possible, or they were replaced with something else.

  75. Hi. These may also be in the 20,000 category, but would this company be an option? They have cast or carved mantels lots of styles. (Trumeau stones)

  76. Guys,

    It would help me a lot if you would not put links in your comments. It’s fine to tell us about a source that you’ve had experience with. I’ve already done 100s of hours of research. In any case, I think I’ve figured it out, pretty much, as far as the mantel. I will have my contractor make a custom mantel that will fit perfectly and be the design I want. I am trying to keep it elegant and simple.

    Re: the French doors. I very much want a 3″ stile. That’s the piece running down the sides. It is possible, but not everyone does it. Thanks so much!

  77. Laurel,

    I hope your plans are approved soon!

    For the doors, perhaps this firm is worth checking?

    jimillingworthmillwork.com

    For the mantel, perhaps this company?

    emantel.com

    Looking forward to seeing it all come together!

  78. Laurel
    I just DM”d you on Instagram. I didn’t want to post here to avoid competition for you in case you like what I sent you.

  79. So we had…ugh…a popular refitter and replacer of doors and windows, I won’t name them although I’d like to. It rhymes with „Fanderson.“
    They came to give us estimates to replace 2 run of the mill French doors leading to the deck on a 1993 house. Not huge, not super wide, one double door and two glass panels left and right. We choked on hearing their „best“ price of 20k-25k per door!!!
    And they were not even nice. Very cheesy looking. I feel homeowners are being so ripped off. The only influencers that can actually do stuff are ones that do DIY, or, have contractors in their families. Everything else is crazy. For the rest of us, try to even find a contractor! I’ve been looking for one for 5 years in the Seattle area. Maybe there are just too many people with true boatloads of money out there sound Reno’s for half a million and up. I’m not one of them. So we remain DIYers via YouTube.

  80. Years ago, I had a house built and I think it was the builder who steered me toward someone who worked in wood in the next town who could construct two fireplaces for me from designs that I put together from several different photos. They were so much cheaper than anything I could have bought otherwise and turned out beautifully. One was painted and one was stained (for the living room and family room), and perhaps you might be able to consider a similar option. Good luck!

  81. Try Bayer Built Custom Doors…Yes, they’re in Belgrade MN, but they manufacture as well as having their own trucking company to make seamless deliveries.
    Have you tried The Harp Gallery for a mantle or other? They are an amazing resource for art, stunning furniture, decorative objects, architectural salvadge, etc. They may have a mantle or mantles not shown on their web site (I always get sucked in there, as they divide things by period, as well as by type categories, which I love). They include the best photographs of every piece of furniture, etc they sell. They do a lot of business in Chicago, and all around the country, and have a great email update list. I’m thoroughly enjoying your progress on your dream home:)

    1. Hi Alisa,

      That’s me doing the unlinking. It has become problematic, as the link comments have to be moderated, and the links don’t open in a new tab. The other day, someone wrote a comment with about 15 links in it. So, it’s certainly fine to list a source. Then, it’s up to people if they want to look it up or not. I appreciate your sharing very much!

  82. I’ve worked with a lovely young woman in Washington DC named Molly Acorn. Her email address is molly at mantelhousedc dot com and you can find her on Instagram at dcmantelhouse. She has a large supply of different shaped antique marble fireplaces and MAY be able to help you. Very good quality, very reasonably priced and shipping to you is no issue, plus she’s a joy to work with. Best of luck.

  83. Hi Laurel,
    You can try the Heirloom Company and see if they can do the iron for the fireplace. They do custom work,

    Benjamin Moseley
    Operations

    O (864) 468-4940
    M (864) 978-0746

    13728 Highway 11
    Campobello, SC 29322

    TheHeirloomCompanies.com

  84. You can set up a repeating search on Invaluable or Live Auctioneers for what you want – doors and mantels. That way, when one is coming up for auction, you might be able to nab it. That’s how I’ve been getting the things I could never afford before. OR FB Marketplace, which has been the most amazing resource for me. Gotta watch for scammers, of course, but I got my Maitland-Smith black lacquered chinoiserie secretary with red interior that way. Never thought I would own one. I see mantels on there fairly frequently. Best of luck in your search.

  85. Try Driwood.com. They have stock mantels and will make a custom mantel in any style. These guys do the mantels for the grand mansions in Charleston. Their mouldings are the best I have ever seen. Good luck.

  86. Doors are horrifically expensive these days. We just received a quote for a SINGLE door with side transom windows for $20k. This is a PLAIN door. Nothing antique, nothing special. Glass was decorative but nothing special about it either. I nearly fell out of my chair on the quote. My husband was in another room (he hates salesmen) and barked a hearty laugh when the guy presented ‘his best offer’. Needless to say….we bid him adieu. I think I will have a handman take measurements and head to the eastern shore for a quote on handmade DOOR. We like the windows we have.

  87. Maybe you need to go to Mexico for vacay and check out stone work there? A friend in Mexico had an astounding stone fireplace made for her (She lives in San Miguel). Lots of custom stonework done there. While transport might be pricey, it might work out to less.

  88. Be careful with marble. There is a reason it is popular for cheeses and rolling out dough. It holds the cold. Marble mantel pieces are prone to cracking, splitting and falling apart when someone lights a fire in the fireplace without properly heating the stone prior to the fire. 🙁 Friends who are renovating a large country estate discovered why their marble fireplaces were cracked….

  89. What!!? 28 million dollars ($28,000,000) for the doors? I almost had a heart attack. I hope this is a typo.

  90. Browse this web site, Laurel. made in USA, reasonably priced.
    These are not antiques, or real, of course, but maybe you could get the look?
    OldWorldStoneworks.com
    Old World Stoneworks
    5400 Miller Ave
    Dallas, TX 75206
    888 900 7598

  91. It’s a little amazing that one of these fabulous companies doesn’t hop on the chance to capture all the free advertising you would be giving them if they fabricated a mantel for you at a discounted rate.

    You do so many wonderful things for your readers. Maybe we all could do a little on-line window shopping for you?
    There are architectural relic stores around the country. If your fans could check their local/state websites, there may be a little hidden jewel in there. One site is Fine’s Gallery in Florida. Their marble French pieces are just under $5grand. May not work for you, but there seems to be sites around the country that are cheaper than the $28,000 quote you got.

    Great post!

    1. Hi Terry,

      Don’t get me started. I have sponsorships for the entry wallpaper and a range hood, and that is IT. A friend of mine and I have spent dozens of hours with some brands I probably shouldn’t mention, but I’d like to. I sent my media kit with the impressive stats. Nope. Unfortunately, two of them strung me along for months.

      The 28k is for two sets of 18″w x 90″ tall French doors and 18″ transoms. I thought it would be between 15k and 20k– bottomline numbers, not including installation and hardware.

      I’ve seen Fine’s. Thank you, so much, I very much appreciate your wanting to help, but this source is the antithesis of what I’m looking for.99% of what I see out there is. If you look at Marc Maison and the pieces I linked to, this is the style I want. It is refined and an authentic Louis XVI 18th-19th c. style. Sorry to be such a boring snob, lol, but I’ve been studying this for decades of my life. The irony is, that these pieces are very simple as long as the elements, such as carvings are beautifully rendered. Please come back Monday evening.

      I can have my contractor make exactly what I want out of wood and it will be perfect and thousands of dollars less $.

  92. Laurel, I went through an endless search for the right mantels, only to find the specs for the non-combustible area didn’t work. I recommend you reach out to Tiffany at Francois and Co. They are in Georgia. Everything this company has is stunning, and they’re wonderful to work with. They have both antiques and reproduction products, and although the concentration is on the French taste, they do have some English and Italian designs. They crated an enormous mantel for us and shipped it to Pennsylvania. Customization is available. Other than that, it’s luck of the draw at architectural salvage places.

  93. Holy moly on the door pricing! I emailed you some information from a company we worked with a few years ago with a door for our office in a historic home. Was still a lot but not in the stratosphere. I’m (selfishly) loving seeing so many frequent posts from you! So much fun following your reno journey and helpful to see how you find solutions.

  94. I love, love, love the French mantels. And this post could not be more timely! We have been struggling to come up with any surround for the wood stove we put into the fireplace of our 1874 Victorian home. We have to increase noncombustible clearances from the original brick now that the stove is there. Three (?) days ago I found out that marble mantles exist and thought, “I should see if Laurel Bern will tell me where I can get one of these.” Now a whole post on them! Any and all ideas for sourcing are so helpful!

  95. Laurel, I wanted to check –if I save things in my Amazon cart and then (at a later date) I click over to Amazon from your website to purchase those items -do you still get the commission? Or do you only get the commission on things that I put in my cart AFTER I go to Amazon from your website?
    I like to put things I read about in my cart and think about them or research them and then I have been going on Sunday (from your website) to purchase those items.

    just wanted to check to be sure you are getting credit!!!

    1. Hi Maggie,

      I do not get credit that way, unless you click the link, put the item(s) in your cart, and order within 24 hours. However, there’s an option to save things for later, then when you’re ready to order, come back to me, and click any Amazon link, ( there’s one on the homepage now) then you can put everything in your cart. There’s a note at the bottom of the post about this.

      Maybe I need to put the headline in a brighter color so it stands out.

      Thank you so much for asking!!!

  96. Laurel-
    Your trusty Realtor here- check out Olde Bostonian restoration in Boston adjacent to the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester. Worth the ride. You may find a discarded mantle as this is where contractors take old marble fireplaces that they’re demolishing. You might find one the cheap…and check out the living room mantle on my website for 117 Marlborough. It’s just what you’re looking for for inspiration! It’s gorgeous. GO BIG! Good luck!

  97. Hi Laurel, I don’t know if these are within your budget….this company is in Illinois and their work looks beautiful. They have their own designs and do custom stone work. AJ Stoneworks.

  98. Chesneys is a company with a US showroom in New York and dealers in other US cities. I know nothing about them or the price range, but they have gorgeous mantels.

  99. Maybe you could find a local craftsman that would do a custom cast stone mantel for you. Then you could have an artist finish the mantel in the look you prefer. I found this option to work for me when building and finishing our home last year. The only issue for you may be the weight. My mantel weighs around 2500 lbs. Good luck! Excited to see your finished home!

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