Which means I've been researching two things. The first is how to build a mantle. The second is what to put in our fireplace to make it still feel cozy without being able to burn logs.
The options seem to be:
Whatever goes in there needs to be somewhat easily removed though, because we will need to regularly check the vents for the HVAC to make sure that it hasn't become disconnected, so the awesome custom wine rack and shelves are probably a no-go. Right now I'm leaning towards the logs, because our friend has a giant woodpile that I think she would let us raid, and therefore it is the easiest and cheapest solution.
What's your pick? Do you have any additional ideas for us?