Faux Mantels Are the Secret to Adding Character to Any Space

White mantel in bedroom with neutral decor.

LAUREN ZILLINGER FOR LAURA METZLER PHOTO

It all started when I purchased one mantel on Facebook Marketplace last summer, then another, and then a third. Yes, my 650 square-foot city apartment is now home to three faux fireplaces, scattered in various locations throughout my space—my bedroom, living room, and dining nook, to be exact.

Some may judge me for adding such extravagant fixtures to a rental—and to be fair, I kind of judge myself for incorporating three, at that—but truthfully, I couldn’t be more pleased with the intrigue these pieces add to my space.

If you’re curious about jumping on board with this trend or wondering what on earth prompted me to do this, read on as I share the merits of mantels. 

They Add Architectural Character 

My former apartment was nestled within a historic row house that had been built in the 1890s and was later converted into rental units. While modern appliances had been incorporated, of course, tons of original fixtures were still intact. This meant that the unit I shared with a roommate featured two fireplaces, exposed brick, wooden beams, you name it. The space was by no means perfect in every way, but it certainly did not lack an ounce of character.

When my roommate and I decided to part ways after living in the row house apartment for two years, I struggled to find a space within my price range filled with the same historic elements. Luckily, it’s easy enough to fake this with the right tools. And odds are, your visitors will be none the wiser. Many of my Instagram followers assume that all three of my current fireplaces are real and came with the unit—and ask me how I lucked out in finding such a charming space.

They Make a Cookie-Cutter Space Feel More Luxe

In addition to adding character, faux mantels simply add a luxurious element to a space that many of us crave—particularly those of us obsessed with Parisian interiors. They help elevate the everyday, which is key, even in a rental.

There’s no reason that a temporary space shouldn’t evoke feelings of happiness and comfort. Don’t feel guilty about introducing elements that may seem a bit “extra” if they’ll bring you joy. 

There Are Infinite Décor Possibilities

Mantels are so much fun to decorate around, trust me. Jazz yours up with an oversized gold mirror—the more glimmery and ornate, the better—fill the inside with faux logs or books, or set up a display of candles or twinkly lights. Truly, you can’t go wrong when it comes to accessorizing your fireplace. And don’t even get me started on the holidays—there’s nothing better than draping a mantel in garland or hanging a wreath from the mirror above it. 

Many faux mantels on the market are quite pricey, so if you’re on a budget, scrolling through secondhand sites may lead you to that diamond in the rough. Note that mantels often come apart into many pieces and can require a skilled worker for the assembly process, so you’ll want to plan accordingly before pickup.

Whether you opt for a piece that’s French, Victorian, brick, or something entirely different, you can’t go wrong with a mantel.

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