Retro renovations

Mantels

Mantels: Go retro.
Why: Bring back the hearth — and focus — to a room.

If the fireplace in your older home was closed up by you or a previous owner, you have a few options here if you want to bring back the original character. The more expensive option is to reopen the space and add a ventless gas fireplace.

Or you can re-create the hearth concept in the room by adding a salvaged mantel over where the fireplace used to be.

Philadelphia Salvage Co.'s Chris Stock says you can find a wood or marble one for a few hundred dollars and then install it wherever the mantel once was. If you don't want to reopen the fireplace, you can do things like cluster candles, decorative urns or flowers below the mantel.