Trending Wood Fireplace Mantels: Heat Up Your Home Decor!

Image of fireplace with mantel surround in a home’s master bedroom.

A beautiful fireplace can be one of the most attractive focal points in a home, so it deserves a little extra attention!

Wood fireplace mantels add warmth and coziness to a room, not to mention the fact that incorporating natural elements like solid wood and stone can make you feel happier and less stressed.

But, what happens if your fireplace is looking drab or outdated? Don’t let it stay that way when you can easily incorporate a new wood fireplace mantel shelf. We have all the inspiration you need right here!

Mantel Shelf vs. Mantel with Surround

Before we dive in head-first, there’s an important factor to consider: do you want a shelf or an entire fireplace surround?

Mantel Shelf

At its most basic, a mantel shelf is just that – a shelf that is placed above your fireplace. This type of “floating” design can come in a variety of styles, from a simple box mantel to an intricate traditional design that’s created from lumber and multiple moulding profiles.

A floating mantel’s gravity-defying design doesn’t typically use corbels or visible brackets for attachment. (That said, corbels can absolutely be added for aesthetics!) The most common mounting system (a French cleat) is hidden behind the shelf itself, delivering a modern and minimalistic look that’s been growing in popularity.

This option is great for floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces or for rooms where an intricate surround would be too overwhelming.

Video showing man installing a box mantel on mounting cleat.

Mantel Surround

Mantel surrounds, by comparison, are designs that include elements on both sides of the firebox or insert. Oftentimes, the firebox is framed by stone or tile and then accented by vertical legs and pilasters made out of wood.

There is a lot open for interpretation when it comes to surrounds, though. Some have wooden accents; some only have brick or stone with a mantel shelf above. Just like the hearth, the surround’s stone, tile or brick protects the area (in this case, the wall) from heat. When it comes to looks, mantel surround designs help to make the fireplace feel more substantial.

Alt Tag: Image of fireplace with mantel surround in a home’s master bedroom.

For homeowners wanting to update a fireplace mantel on their own, a floating mantel shelf can easily be attached without the help of a contractor. But, if you have a little bit of DIY experience, and are aiming to create something more intricate, you can design your own custom mantel surround and have a truly unique fireplace.

Popular Mantelpiece Design Styles

In terms of style, there are many options to choose from. Be sure to have an understanding of the interior design that you’re trying to match so that you can add a real wood mantel that fits seamlessly into your home.

Rustic Wood Fireplace Mantels

Looking for a modern farmhouse or log cabin feel? A rustic fireplace mantel is exactly what you need. Even in contemporary or industrial home design, rustic wood mantels can pair nicely and add a touch of timeless warmth and visual interest.

Rustic mantels are more about the material being used than the design of the mantel itself. They’re typically made from hickory, knotty pine, rough-cut lumber or reclaimed wood.

Rustic designs can be made as box mantels or even a solid wood shelf.

A rustic wood beam mantel fixed to the wall with iron.

Rough Cut or Hand Hewn Natural Wood

Rough cut materials don’t receive much (if any) sanding after being sawn. You’ll notice many natural characteristics here! Oak and pine wood options are especially popular choices for this type of mantel.

Another way to get rustic-looking lumber is to go with handcrafted boards. Hand hewn mantels are – literally – crafted by hand from tools like axes and chisels. This rough hewn method makes for a very irregular surface with a lot of natural variation. Since there is so much time involved, and no modern technology used to create this style (unlike other common pieces of millwork), hand hewn designs can be costly and difficult to find.

Most people opt to go the route of using character grade lumber or reclaimed wood for rustic mantel design. Hickory is an extremely popular, durable species and repurposing an item like an old barn beam can really punch up the unique character of your home or cabin. After all, who wouldn’t be wowed by a wood beam mantel shelf?!

Contemporary Mantel Shelves

A box mantel or a solid wood shelf (maybe with iron or steel brackets) are likely what you envision when you think of contemporary mantel options. A box mantel is simply a floating shelf that is attached to a hidden cleat (which is attached to wall studs). A solid mantel is a piece of wood that is attached with a bracket.

Wood fireplace mantel surrounds aren’t typically used in this style, allowing the shelf itself to stand out against the wall. And if they are used, profiles are extremely basic.

Solid mantel shelves are extremely sleek and modern. While the depth of the piece can vary, oftentimes, the height of the shelf is thin (imagine between 3” to 6”) and is made of popular species like quarter sawn white oak or quarter sawn red oak.

Contemporary mantels are a great way to complement a modern electric fireplace that’s accented by elements like fire glass.

American Colonial or French Country Mantel Designs

French country mantels are a stylish addition to a cozy home. They’re typically carved out of warm woods, such as oak, alder or mahogany, and have a traditional charm to them. Typically, this style comes as a wood fireplace mantel surround decorated with intricate and beautiful carvings. If you’re going this route on your own, you can use a more cost-effective wood species (like poplar) and paint the finished design.

Unlike the stark coolness of an industrial beam or floating shelf in your living room, a French country mantel is all about being decorative and ornate.

American Colonial is a classic USA design that started in the early 17th century and has continued to be popular ever since! When it comes to mantel design, this style is simple, but not too simple. It’s characterized by clean lines that are elegant but not overdone. You can dress it up with custom mouldings or you can keep it more understated with a simple shelf and minimal vertical elements.

A living room featuring a French country mantel.

See for Yourself How a Solid Wood Mantel Is Made!

Loving the idea of adding a new mantel for your space but not sure how to make one on your own? Watch as Steve Stack takes you back into the manufacturing shop to show you exactly how Baird Brothers’ fireplace mantels are made.

Trendy or Timeless Wood Fireplace Mantel Designs

A warm American colonial mantel above a fireplace.

All done picking out your favorite trending wood fireplace mantel? Then it’s time to take these ideas and turn them into a reality.

Start by taking a look at the mantel styles we offer but ALSO know that we can make whatever you have dreamed up! Send in that sketch and we’ll work with you to create a truly custom piece that will wow guests and make you feel more at home IN your home! Need a little more help choosing the species or design that you want for your mantel? Contact one of our dedicated sales associates and they’ll help you decide! It’s part of our family’s heritage to help your family make your dream home a reality!