Warm and inviting, a great fireplace can become the central design element in a home. Stylish and functional a barn beam mantel is not only attractive, it also has a story to tell. With options ranging from the texture of the wood to what color finish will be used as well as picking a size that will be in scale and look great there is plenty of details to consider.
When it comes to texture the first place to start is understanding how the barn beams were originally created. Hand hewn barn beams are the oldest beams and were originally created using a broad adze. The original craftsmen felled the trees with an ax and skillfully created a square beam by hand, giving these beams a more rustic appearance. Rough sawn beams and lumber were created using a rough sawmill and retain the original saw teeth marks left by the mill giving them a more refined rustic look.
Finishing a barn beam mantel is optional and can enhance the look and create a more consistent color tone. Using natural waxes is a very traditional way to finish and protect wood beams and looks great on beer beams. Wax finishes are available in a variety of traditional colors and can be touched up easily if needed.
When deciding what size will be appropriate for your space it is important to determine what your goal is. Buying a barn beam mantel that is too small will not look right while choosing a mantel that is too big will have an overwhelming feeling and not work either. Generally speaking scale is important and it is a good idea to mock it up and get a feel for what looks best.
Reclaimed from century old structures, this old wood is given a second life and will live on to tell more great stories in your home. If a barn beam mantel could talk imagine what it would have to say. From early pioneers staking claim to a piece of land where the beam was originally harvested to decades of use as a structural support essential to holding the rigidity of a structure through tough winter snow loads, this wood has lived on.
I'll bet the guy who originally crafted this beam could not have imagined where it would end up. Surrounded by fine furniture and an oriental rug, this beautiful beam has found a new home, and, is quite cozy.
Choosing a size that will be in scale with the room as well as the fireplace is an important decision and should be considered before picking a mantel. Most Barn beam mantels are square from around 6"x6" up to 10"x10" and can be cut to almost any length needed. Using scrap pieces of cardboard is a good way to create a mock up that will help visually when determining the right size mantel for your application.
Another factor once you have chosen the perfect barn beam to become your mantel is installation. Adding corbels is a good way to complete the look and create a structure for the mantel to sit on. On the flip side of adding corbels is to directly attach the mantel to the wall or fireplace using hidden brackets, this will create a clean look that provides a floating appearance.
While it is common to leave the mantel unfinished and show the natural tones found in the wood itself you can also finish the mantel using a wax finish to enhance the look. Wax is a great option due to it's natural feel as well as the ability to touch it up should it ever get a dent or scratch. Common colors of wax are dark brown, clear and whitewash.
Picking a barn beam mantel is a decision that is not only rewarding and fun but one that will enhance the look of any fireplace and be enjoyed for many years to come. Whether you choose a hand hewn beam or like the look of a little more refined rough sawn beam, it is sure to become the centerpiece of your project and be a focal point in the room.