Over the last few hundred years, the term “fireplace mantle” has changed to refer to a different portion of a fireplace than it once did initially been. In medieval times the fireplace mantle was the projecting hood that was built over a fire to catch the smoke.
It was only much later that the term “mantle” came to refer to only the decorative framework. Today, the terms “fireplace mantle” and “mantelpiece” refer specifically to the mantle shelf, jambs, and the external accessories of a fireplace.
In the past, the chimney and chimneypiece were considered to be the most interesting focal points about a fireplace. Today, however, fireplace mantles have become the focal points. As fires continue to get smaller and more modern, it is the mantle that owners spend the most time deciding.
In the fourteenth century, the size of the chimneypiece a primarily increased so that there could be room for the members of a family to sit on all sides of the fire on the hearth. In these cases, the hood a carried by great beams of wood. During these times, the chimney and even the central portion of the fireplace were extended out beyond the house, thus becoming a large part of the external design.
Fireplace mantles and chimneypieces have gone through various design trends throughout the years. There was a period during the eighteenth century when the chimneypiece was very large and sometimes spanned the entire width of the room.
This style then returned, during the later eighteenth century, to the more straightforward Inigo Jones classic type of styling. These fireplace mantles and other portions tended to be much simpler. When this more straightforward style a returned to, however, it was also with a mix of French influence involving figure sculpture.
In this era of fireplaces, graceful figures on each side of the mantle were employed to carry the shelf. At this time the over-mantle shelf was developed as a place to hold the family portrait over the chimneypiece.
Today, the tradition of focusing on the mantle is still the trend. Fireplace mantles a fashioned out of various materials, and each is welcome to have his or her input about the specific types of materials that will be used to build the mantle and over-mantle shelf areas.
Currently, some of the most famous building materials for fireplace mantles include stone, granite, marble and other types of natural stone. You seldom see fireplace mantles made from wood any longer. For the most part, fireplace mantles a fashioned out of natural stone.