What Colour to Paint the Fireplace Mantle?

Fireplaces are the heart and focus of any room they are installed in. Make sure yours lives up to its decorating promise with a fireplace mantle that enhances its surroundings.
The fireplace mantle is what overlays your fireplace surround. It’s usually made of wood, and consists of two legs extending down the sides of the firebox and a connecting portion across the top. Mantles help make a fireplace stand out more, giving it presence in any home interior decor and it becomes a place to set decorative items on top.

Decorating the fireplace mantle
Mantle: Benjamin Moore Timid White OC-39

Why Paint Your Mantle?

Many new mantels come unfinished so you can select the colour of paint or stain you want. Others may come in a bright white, or get finished in a generic bright white as they are installed. And while white certainly blends in with a lot of different colour schemes, it isn’t always the best choice for your mantle.

Consider several other factors in the room:

  • What colour is your wood trim? If your mantel is white, but your trim is cream, it’s going to clash.
  • What colour is your surround? The surround is the other decorative element in the fireplace, and the two need to coordinate – if your surround doesn’t contain any white, maybe your mantel shouldn’t either.
  • What colour are your walls painted? While white will coordinate with several neutral shades, it can be a little jarring if you have the room painted in jewel tones or another bold colour scheme.

How to Select a New Colour for Your Mantle

Once you’ve taken a look around the rest of the room where the fireplace is, you’ll not only discover whether or not white will work in this area, you’ll also find several other clues that can help you determine what your new colour should be.

Surround Accent Colours

Take a look at your fireplace surround. It may contain several different shades or colour accents, any one of which could be pulled for the mantel. Select a colour for the mantel that is present in the surround, but not one of the main colours so it stands out. If your surround is very light in colour, take the accent shade and move it a few shades darker to help the mantel stand out. If the surround is very dark, lighten the accent colour.

Wood Trim

Take a look at your bookcases, baseboard, moldings, and other wood trim you may have in the room. While these may be white, they may not be the same bright white that most mantels are painted. Match their shade for a cohesive look.

The fireplace mantle wall in colour
Wall colour: Benjamin Moore faded denim 795

Complementary Colours

If you don’t have a decorative surround on your fireplace, and you don’t want to match the wood trim, you can always select a colour to complement what’s already in the room. In this case, take a look at your wall colour, and select a shade for the mantle that works with it. Remember to use a light colour on the surround if the walls are dark and a dark colour if the walls are light to help it stand out. Here is a picture from Benjamin Moore on how colour (blue in this case) can work with a fireplace centered accent wall.

Properly accented, a fireplace, mantle, and hearth will become an instant draw in any room they’re put in. This opens up the way for conversation seating and other ideas you may not have considered yet. Give your home a center by redoing the fireplace mantle and see what gathers there.

Tips for choosing room colours, by Sarabeth Asaff .

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