The tile is original, probably made by The American Encaustic Tile Company along with the tile in the entrance and was commonly used in the European Arts and Crafts style architecture Howard Van Doren Shaw was often influenced by.
The great room fireplace mantel was a different story. The scale was bulky and the style was all wrong. We were pretty sure none of it was original.
It’s inauthenticity in this otherwise unspoiled home screamed at us until we finally had to take the top piece off. It had been made from plane sliced red oak (the rest of the house is trimmed in rift and quarter sawn white oak) with tools that weren’t around in 1894.
So with a clear conscience about ditching the top piece, we tried to figure out how to improve the rest of the mantel. We could replace the dated tile with antique tile, which would help, we could replace the upper row of tile with wood panels, but the whole thing just seemed wrong; out of proportion. So we decided to splurge and replace it all together.
Inspired by many of Van Doren Shaw’s other homes we researched, Susan Scheer, @scheer_design_interiors wanted to use a simple light limestone mantel.
Atelier Jouvence came up with a great design, and dismantled the existing to prepare for the new.
And suddenly, everything became clear. At some point, someone decided they wanted a bombastic mantel and layered more brick on top of the original opening, filling the entire diagonal wall leaving no space on either side for the return. The mantel looked like it had been plopped in the corner as an afterthought.
So Dave had to get his power tools out to destroy it. He didn’t have any fun with that.
After removing the extra layers of brick, we remeasured the opening and Atelier Jouvence carved a beautiful mantlepiece that sits gracefully in the corner and is in keeping with the rest of the house.