Aspects To Consider When Deciding On An Antique Fireplace For Your Home

16 March 2010

Referred to as fireplace, mantelpiece, or chimneypiece... kamine, camino, cheminee or chiminea, the antique fireplace is an important prominent architectural as well as decorative feature in the interior of not just the traditional home.

It either sets the style or complements the existing setting of the room or building itself.



For many people there is a simple but deep seated satisfaction…even Mystique...felt in the presence of an antique mantelpiece that is in fact an Edifice in miniature itself.

A structure that has endured the years ...or centuries...silent witness to bygone events and routines, dramatic and prosaic... of personages both notable and ordinary, poignant and joyful.

The presence of an antique fireplace in an environment... grand or modest, formal or understated affirms the unconscious human need for connection with the positive, distant past. Visible evidence is presented of the validity and quality of age old crafts and skills, concepts of eternal design and beautifully worked natural materials ...all combining in silent testament to the continuity and harmony of the ascent of Man's Civilisation.



If you own a period home or a property of a particular period and style then you would normally prefer to choose a fireplace that matches or complements the period features.

On the other hand you may wish to create an antique or period environmental style in a modern or neutral interior...either completely with furniture and fittings and chimneypiece blending to that effect...or in a completely plain or hi tech décor placing the one major traditional antique element, the chimneypiece.


Over the centuries building styles and decoration fashions evolved and changed. There were transition periods long and short when one style evolved into the next and then there were less gradual changes where the next style bore no relation to any previous…This was the case when the exotic Rococo style arrived all over Europe.

11098 It was considered a most radical, even risqué movement...In London the avant garde exponents were based around St Martins Lane. Then again many styles were revived in later centuries and referred to as Revival or Neo, mostly in the 18th and the 19th centuries...These included Neo Gothic, Gothic Revival and so on... Jacobean, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Palladian, Georgian, Regency Revivals.

Therefore if you have a house of a particular period then a chimneypiece of the corresponding antique Revival or Neo period would serve well in the absence of an original "de l'epoque" as it also has a presence and patina, a history....a pedigree.


For your contemporary, modern or even hi tech interior you should choose a style that appeals and pleases. The decorative design seen in the Antique Renaissance period featured much repetitive floral scrollwork , putti and deity figures intermingled with architectural detail.

The Antique Baroque saw very imposing, grand, scrolled monumental features and facades, the Antique Rococo epoch saw floral, asymmetric, nature inspired sensual shapes and forms…whereas the Neo – Classical, Regency and French Empire periods saw more linier, geometric designs influenced by those of Greek and Roman Classical Antiquity but frequently with stylised natural and floral forms.


At the Westland * London galleries, a vast and ever changing selection of antique fireplaces from all ages, period and styles are presented for the steady demand from professionals and individuals Worldwide seeking period antique statement pieces of varying degrees of uniqueness and splendour...along with a comprehensive stock of fire grates, fire dogs, and other antique fireside accessories, along with antique decorative and architectural elements, such as antique mirrors, lighting, fountains, panelled rooms, plinths, doors gates & windows, furniture and many more.



Choosing the right antique mantel for the right room in the right house can provide a growing continuous satisfaction as the environment is placed around it settles in as the sentinel, the tabernacle at the family's center...the frame for flame...the focus...the statement.

Be careful when choosing your fireplace that it matches the scale of the height, width but also in depth, for rooms of modest size. Be aware of all relevant dimensions including those of the firebox and possibilities for alteration to accommodate a particularly desirable choice of antique mantel.


Before building renovations pay great attention to the size and condition of the flue...and room this will determine the size of the opening of your chimneypiece so that smoke or fumes can escape up the chimney adequately.

Antique English Rococo and Neo-Classical or Georgian fireplaces tend to be taller, often with a shallower shelf depth than most French cheminee’s from the 18thc onwards, except for the grandiose variety.


The firebox can be lined with bricks...most attractively in the herringbone fashion, or simply in black dyed fireproof cement, or with decorative cast iron plates in addition to the fire back.

If you already have a working fireplace you will either use gas or solid fuel. These days most antique grates, although built in the days when only coal or wood fuels were used, can be converted using a modern gas conversion unit, which can be controlled by a remote control.

There are many different choices of fireplace implements which can be used and are decorative, attractive and interesting in themselves, under the following headings:

Antique Fire Grates: Log grates or coal grates...of all kinds of designs...these were developed to confine the fire itself, and for heat efficiency fuel economy.

Antique Hob Grates: These are another usually very stylish form of firegrate with a structure whereon pots or kettles can be stood to heat water or food.

Antique Register grates or inserts: These are again very often quite beautiful and are even more economical and heat efficient and close in the whole firebox opening.

Antique Andirons or firedogs: These are the oldest method of supporting logs within a firebox. The logs rest on the rear billet bars fronted by the vertical plain or ornamental firedogs which are protected from the burning logs getting too close by the frequently ornamental log stops.

Antique cast iron firebacks: Usually highly decorated, frequently heraldic features...Shields, Latin mottos, Kings, soldiery and trophies protection of the brick or stonework, and provide heat radiation, even for hours after the fire has died.

Antique fire tools: Pokers, shovels, tongs and later brushes...all for tending and controlling the fuel and ash in the firebox, not forgetting bellows to encourage the flames.

Reviewing the above brief survey one realises what a variety of aspects are involved in this subject. Frequently people are fascinated and are drawn into the broad spectrum that is revealed....from the fundamental age old technology of the provision of heat and light, to the focus for social gatherings, the aesthetic design and sometimes symbolic aspects.

The relevance is that the antique fireplace, being such a centerpiece of indoor life should be regarded from an informed and opinionated standpoint, recognising and appreciating all its aspects rather than simply as a sterile, bland structure.