After going to the expense of putting in a gas or wood fireplace, many people don’t give a lot of thought to spending more on the finishing touches. But a mantel needn’t cost a lot, and can add a lot of traditional warmth to your room.
At its most basic level, a mantel is a sturdy shelf above the fireplace.
But you can create a more elegant effect by trimming out the entire fireplace. You can construct the mantel in place, but you may want to build it independently, and then install it using glue and screws, hiding any fasteners with final trim.
A sheet of finish plywood provides a good base for your mantel design, providing a flush surface over the brick and wall, which will accept finishing nails as you add trim. Cut it so that it overlaps both the wall surface and the brick surround you’d commonly find with a wood fireplace.
The mantel shelf sits on top of the plywood, but it needs extra support. You can hold it in place with metal brackets screwed into both the plywood and the shelf, hiding the brackets with crown molding. Or you can install wood brackets, butting crown molding to them.
Add additional molding pieces as desired to create a more elaborate design. Molding should also hide the outside and inside edge of the plywood.
Using this as your basic design, you can add your own ideas, or search pictures in magazines for inspiration on a style that suits you.