Original Mantel Dilemma

JamesMarch 17, 2014

I'm not sure what to do about my dining room fireplace mantel.

With my homes (this is my third old house restore) I typically am a proponent of "make it as original as possible" but this dining room is throwing me off - way off.

The house is colonial revival and fairly formal on the first floor - cherry woodwork in the foyer and parlor, huge pocket doors all around, ionic columns and that suits the way we live. The dining room has deep oak wood trim. and (here's where ethe trouble begins, for me at least) a seriously arts and crafts wood mantel and big chinky deep green tile surround.

Our tastes are more Victorian, which the remainder of the house is styled. I guess the arts and crafts style was new and fashionable then, so the entertaining room - the dining room - was done in it.

I love all the deep wood trim in the DR, but I am thinking of swapping out the A&C wood mantel and overmantel mirror for something else - I have an old cast iron mantel that I love.

Who out there would do this ? it will be a huge undertaking and the amount and co$t of the work may be a deterrent to me. but i cringe every time i go in that room.

thoughts ?

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Very bad idea. At least save the original so a new owner can restore it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 7:57PM
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Arts & Crafts and the Aesthetic movement (a late-Victorian design reform movement) have the same roots, evolving out of the efforts of a few though-leaders and designers working in England around 1874. America's introduction to the stark A&C vision came via Glasgow and Vienna, where the ideas went before coming here. The Aesthetic period stuff came here directly, via the Philadephia Exhibition, Oscar Wilde's US tour, Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera "Patience" and taste-setting magazines.
Colonial revival happened at exactly the same moment, emerging as a "thing" because of an exhibit of "olde Colonial" furniture at Philad, that year.
The different styles which you see as in competition with each other, really represent the ability for American houses to embrace rooms decorated in contrasting ways reflecting how we used to more readily welcome diverse styles and periods.
Matchy-matchy was not a "thing" in the Victorian mind.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 10:02AM
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I just so happen to like things all matchy-matchy.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 8:57AM
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I'm confused... Is the mantle/surround the only A&C influence in the room? (Perhaps my problem is that I don't know what "deep wood" is, lol. NOT gonna google it..). Are you talking about mixing styles in the same room, as opposed to having an entire room that seems to match itself, but not the rest of the house? Or is it, simply, oak vs cherry?
I guess what I'm wondering... Is the trim in the room A&C also, & you'd prefer to throw an ornate mantel into the mix? Personally, I'd rather have one room different from the rest, if it comes together. Arts & Crafts style room, with a Victorian fireplace.. Could feel awkward, (at least to future homebuyers).

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:10PM
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hi toolgirl, the room is very first decade of the 20th century - the trim is a deep brown quarter sawn oak (thats what I mean by deep wood - deep brown) and very classic. the mantle is the only A&C looking part of the room. it is huge, too, which makes the 15 x 18 foot room look tiny. its just not my style. I know that many in the past have made appropriate well executed design changes to homes that are well integrated and not slap dash and crummily put into place. Thats what I await to do here. Its a few years off, other priorities, but I think that will give me time to decipher how to remove and store the original mantle and rework the space so that we can get the fireplace into working order and have a style that appeals to us. And just to add - the rest of the house has zero of this heavy craftsman influence, very classical or colonial revival.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 8:54AM
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Could we see a picture of the fireplace?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 8:15PM
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Yes, picture please.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:05PM
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Ill post one when I clear that room out - were working in the parlor, now, so the dining room has become storage-central

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:43AM
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