Your fireplace is likely the first place your eye goes when you enter your living room or den. You may already decorate the fireplace’s mantel for the winter holidays, but the rest of the year your mantel is a perfect place to exercise your creativity and add some pizzazz to a room. Here’s our guide to decorating a mantel with style and personality.
How to plan your mantel design
While your mantel is the perfect place to show off your originality, observe some basic design principles when decorating your mantel.
- A great mantel begins with a theme that coordinates with the room’s decorating style and color palette. A mantel adorned with materials from nature, for example, will harmonize with a room decorated in farmhouse style, while a contemporary room with sleek furniture calls for a mantel with a minimalist style.
- Begin decorating with your largest element — a framed painting or print, a mirror or perhaps a television. Hang the painting or mirror for a more formal look, or lean it against the wall for a casual one. Then layer smaller pieces in front and to the sides. The design can be symmetrical or not. Experiment with both to see what you like best.
- A basic decorating principle is that odd-numbered collections of items look best, particularly groups of three. Three or five candles at one side of your mantel will look better than four.
- Use a variety of sizes, shapes and textures in decorating your mantel.
- If a television centered over the mantel is your largest piece, try small displays on either side of it.
- If your mantel is ornate, simple decor is best. A complicated arrangement will detract from the beauty of the mantel itself.
- To make your mantel more prominent, you can paint it and/or the wall around it a color that contrasts with the room’s dominant paint color.
What to display
You may be able to shop your home for many elements of a creative mantel design. You might even find unique items at a thrift store or yard sale. If a particular item is too small, try placing it on a stack of small books or a riser. Use small decorative easels to support elements where needed. Adorn your mantel with objects such as these:
- Framed photos, paintings or prints. You can even frame heirloom letters, or sayings that are meaningful to you.
- Decorative plates, books or clocks.
- Plants, either real or artificial. A plant that drapes over the mantel and hangs beside the fireplace can be particularly appealing.
- Flowers or branches in a vase.
- Decorative boxes, bottles and baskets.
- Candles. From tall tapers in candlesticks to squat pillar candles or votives, candles add warmth to your mantel design.
- Found materials, such as driftwood, branches, shells, birds nests or attractive stones.
- Pottery or ceramic figurines.
Edit the mantel carefully
Once you’ve finished your design, step back and look with a discerning eye. You might even photograph your mantel and study the picture. If your design seems too cluttered, remove items until you get just the look you want.
Don’t forget the fireplace and hearth
If you use your fireplace, make sure your fire screen and fireplace tools harmonize with your mantel design. If you don’t use the fireplace, you can fill the space with decorative logs, a plant, or candles of different heights on a tray. Decorate the hearth with items such as baskets, boxes or plants.
Related – How to Update an Old Brick Fireplace