A fireplace mantel is an attractive focal point in any room design. Sizing a fireplace mantel for a room requires selecting the materials in the mantel design, measuring the fireplace, analyzing the available wall space, assessing the room decor and installing the mantel according to safety codes. An over-size mantel in a small room can make the room seem crowded and uncomfortable. On the other hand, a tiny mantel can lose its dramatic visual appeal in a room design. There is no exact science to sizing a mantel in a room, but several factors can help a room maintain its harmonious design.
Choose the material intended for sizing the mantel. When it comes to selecting a fireplace mantel that coordinates in size and shape with the overall room design, there are several material choices, including wood, stone, marble, faux finish and pre-constructed surrounds. Select properly sized materials that harmonize with the room's layout. Each type of material influences the size of the mantel in the room design. Ornate wood designs provide a large decorative appeal, stone requires solid support because if its weight, marble is smooth and streamlined for an elegant appeal, faux materials are lightweight and versatile and surrounds are manufactured to fit an exact fireplace shape. The goal is to choose a medium that coordinates with the decorative appeal and the size of the room.
Measure the size of the fireplace. Accurate sizing of the inner fireplace, often referred to as the firebox, and accurate measurements of the facing around the firebox provide a basis for sizing the mantel to a room. Measure the length, height, and width of the firebox and facing. A mantel should extend a minimum of three inches beyond the firebox opening. If the fireplace has facing around the opening, the mantel can also extend three or more inches beyond that. Do not guess when sizing the mantel to a room, or the mantel could wind up being too long or too short.
Find the dimensions of the available wall space in order to size a mantel for a room. The amount of wall space above the fireplace will enable decorations and wall art to be displayed above the mantel. Allow three or more feet of available space above the fireplace mantel for decorative accents. Make sure there is a minimum of six inches of available space on either side of the fireplace mantel surround. A mantel should never touch a window sill, adjoining wall or door frame.
Analyze the interior decorations in the room. Assess the décor of the room where the mantel will be mounted to make sure the mantel harmonizes with the design flow. The fireplace mantel should accent the fireplace and blend with the rest of the room decorations. Size a mantel for a room that allows the mantel design to flow with the room layout and furniture placement. A mantel should balance symmetrically with the furnishings in the living space. Consider the fireplace and mantel as one large furnishing when addressing the sizing for the room.
Install the mantel to meet city and county regulations. Follow the building code and fireplace manufacturers' requirements for sufficient clearance from the edge of the fireplace to the mantel. Choose a mantel size that meets the room design needs and exceeds the minimum code clearances. Contact a builder, fireplace dealer or a local building inspector to ensure proper installation requirements for sizing a mantel for a room. Avoid covering any switches or light fixtures with the edge of the mantel. Avoid contacting windows or door ways with the mantel.