One day, I'd love to own an old Victorian home with historic details like parquet flooring, crown molding, and intricately carved fireplaces in every bedroom. Unfortunately, you can't always get what you want — especially in a rental — so the only alternative is to fake it 'til you make it.
I love how Spanish designer Diego Ladino gave Mezzogiorno Restaurant in Madrid an age-old look by simply setting a beautifully carved fireplace mantel against an exposed brick wall. To keep it from looking bare, he added a vignette of antique prints on top and installed a chic sconce above it to light the area.
You can head to a local architectural salvage shop or scour antique fairs for a similar piece. Or, you can even order one online; Olde Good Things has a great selection of mantels to shop, including marble, wooden, metal, and stone mantels. Take it even further and scoop up a set of andirons to set in front of your new focal point. No one will even notice if any embers are burning!