The Book-Match Mantle
FINISHED / July 2012
In the summer of 2012 I was approached by a client in need of a new mantle. Their situation was rather unique in many ways. First, the fireplace was a three-sided fireplace (usually intended to be mounted on a wall) which had been installed in the center of the family room. Second, they wanted a natural-looking mantle--one incorporating local woods and a rustic aesthetic. Lastly, and perhaps the most important key aspect, they gave me full control over the design of their future mantle.
When they first moved into their house three years prior, they had hired a local craftsman to devise a mantle that would bring nature into their home. They were not impressed by the final product. Although it did attempt to bring a natural feel into the family room, it was too small, and also lacked any sense of aesthetic. The pine wood looked muted in color and the small "logs" underneath were under-scale.
When I was invited to look at the mantle and the space around it I understood why the previous craftsman had such a hard time creating a significant mantle for the client. The space was large, open, and dimly lit. It begged for a center-piece--something that would capture attention and, in turn, set an aesthetic for the rest of the room. I spent a lot of time observing the space and taking measurements, but from the moment I saw the fireplace, I knew what mantle I was going to produce.
Over the course of two weeks I sketched out many iterations of the book-match mantle and conversed with the clients multiple times to come up with a final design that would suit the space and also suit their needs. I devised a mantle crafted from two pairs of book-matched walnut slabs, one of which would form a wrap-around top, and the other which would created the side panel. In order to separate the solid walnut side-panel from the heat of the fireplace, I designed a shelving unit which would act as a buffer from the heat and also provide spaces to set pictures and art work.
The end product was a beautifully crafted and well-conceived mantle that created the focal point the room needed. The aesthetic has since received countless "ooo's" and "ahh's" and is an ongoing conversation among all their friends and family.
Unique spaces and situations, such as this one, require a unique design perspective. At Drake Woodworking, we are able to provide our clients with the perspective, skill, and intuition needed to create a design and build a one-of-a-kind custom installation.