Perhaps the most important and necessary accessory associated with a home’s stone fireplace is the mantel. Nothing completes the fulfilling picture of a welcoming hearth more than that focal point that can be created by what is showcased on a mantel. While the family photographs and other personal items that grace this special shelf can tell the story of a home’s occupants, the way a mantel is constructed and the materials with which it is constructed can also speak volumes about a home, its occupants, and the homeowner’s personal sense of style and design.
In an effort to learn more about mantels, specifically handcrafted, wood mantels, North Star Stone recently spoke with Gerry
Hamm, owner of G.H. Woodworking and Sawmill, Inc. in Wauconda, IL. Self-taught, Gerry is a mantel expert as well as skilled carpenter and craftsman who we regularly recommend to North Star Stone customers seeking the perfect mantel to compliment the exquisite look of our highly customizable stone veneer products. Gerry’s beautifully constructed mantels can be found in homes all over the Chicagoland area.
Choices are many when it comes to selecting and or designing the perfect wood mantel. Personal tastes vary and fortunately there is a wood option out there for everybody. One may prefer the outdoorsy look of rugged, reclaimed timber while something more traditional and refined like Cherry or Alder is more in step with a home’s decor. When it comes to creating mantels for his clients, Gerry utilizes his 25 years of experience as well as his love for reclaimed materials such as repurposed wood. Gerry is also a fan of white oak (Quercus alba), which comes from the tree of the same name. Indigenous to the United States, Gerry likes working with the white oak because of its versatility, beauty, and weather resistance. Never one for taking the easy road when it comes to constructing his one-of-a-kind pieces, Gerry finds that the more challenging a piece is to create, the more satisfying it is.
When it comes time to design or purchase the perfect mantel for your home Gerry has some practical advice to share. According to Gerry it is important to realize that the mantelpiece “is a focal point and should be in contrast to background – so it sticks out!” Fortunately, when paired with stone veneer, which allows for an abundance of color customization, it is easy to ensure your mantel stands out beautifully. Working with a designer can also ensure the mantel you select is unique to you and your home and not of the cookie-cutter variety. Additionally, even though a mantel can be as long as one wishes, Gerry explains that a typical mantel is between 60 and 66 inches in length. Widths can also vary depending on one’s needs. Gerry also suggests that if you plan on placing your television on or near a mantel to make sure that a “power source is available.”
Taking the time to find a quality, beautifully crafted fireplace mantel will not only help bring your own personal seasonal expressions to life but will also add charm and character to your home for the rest of the year as well. If you are interested in adding a custom mantel to your new stone veneer fireplace, call our stone experts at North Star Stone at 847-996-6850.