Overmantels 101

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One of the many things we love about our company is that the beautiful architectural features of the Old World live on in our work– hence our name.

Overmantels have a rich history dating back to Europe, where they’ve adorned the gathering spaces of chic homeowners.

If you’re new to overmantels, the basic definition from the Free Dictionary is “a decorative structure or an ornamental panel situated above a mantelpiece.” Typically these are made of carved wood, plaster or in the case of our mantels, cast stone.

Going back further, the overmantel, or trumeau in French, was made of stone, and served as the smoke chamber, flue and chimney. Nowadays, overmantels are purely decorative. They add height to the fireplace area and help make it the central focus of a room.

Let’s look at a few popular ways overmantels have been used to decorate a room.


Mirrors are a classic overmantel decoration. They add light and make narrow areas appear more spacious. Unlike paintings, they match everything. And they come in all different sizes to suit your house.

Here’s a photo of a giant mirror in the Robert B. Adams House in Buffalo, New York. This Second Empire Victorian was built in 1876. You can see how the overmantel mirror hangs to reflect another mirror, making the space appear infinite.

overmantels 101

Carved Wood Overmantels

Often architects built overmantels of decorative, carved wood. This strapwork overmantel is also in Buffalo, at the Buffalo Seminary. Strapwork is the technique of folding and interlacing thin strips of wood to resemble leather straps. The Arabs and Moors of Spain originated this technique, which became popular in 16th and 17th century England. Here you see the strapwork overmantel paired with a limestone mantel.

overmantels 101


Paintings are another popular way to decorate an overmantel. Rustic, peaceful landscapes are a typical overmantel subject. At Mount Vernon, visitors get a rare glimpse at an 18th century overmantel painting that George Washington purchased when he was still a bachelor.

overmantels 101

Cast Stone Overmantels

At Old World Stoneworks, we combine the classic look of historical mantels with the beauty, design flexibility and cost effectiveness of cast stone. Best of all, we can produce a custom overmantel that precisely fits in your space. Whether you have 8 ft ceilings or 20 ft ceilings, our variety of overmantel designs are sure to complement your fireplace and make it the stand-out feature of your home. Below are just a few examples of how our cast stone overmantels perfectly compliment our line of fireplaces.

overmantels 101

Carved Brentwood w/#9 OM | Nottingham w/18ft. #8 OM | Tuscan w/#11 OM | Berkley w/#9 OM | Normandy w/#13 OM | Gatwick w/Custom OM | Stoneleigh w/#8 OM

Our skilled technicians will be happy to consult with you so your home can be as special to you as Mount Vernon was to George. Overmantels add old world style and height to your living space for that dramatic flare you’ve been looking for. Call us today and together we’ll determine which overmantel is best for you.

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