DAVID EASTON once said “A room without a fireplace is a room without a focus.”
Growing up in the South with 100º temperatures, I’m not sure I agree 100%, but I do believe that when mantels are present in a room they provide an anchor and focal point.
Mantels have a long and varied history beginning in the 16th century. Back then mantels were an essential element to any home because they provided heat and light. As lifestyles evolved mantels became less about energy sources and more about impressing the neighbors and reflecting a family’s wealth.
The French preferred their mantels low and wide while the British built tall stately mantels for their homes. Americans adopted the British aesthetic, but over time influences from various design periods like Baroque, Greek Revival, Neo-Palladian, Federal, Art Deco and Modern appeared in American interiors thanks to prominent architects.
I’ve collected many tear sheets of decorated mantels in various settings, pay close attention to the scale of each room and how the proportion of each mantel provides balance and creates that focus Mr. Easton insisted was a necessity.
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