Decorating A Mantel Made Easy

Decorating A Mantel Made Easy

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So, you thought decorating a mantle was going to be an easy-breezy task? I hear ya; it’s funny how cute items can quickly turn into a cluttered mess. Okay, we’re going to figure this out together.  

We’re going to turn your mantle into the focal point of your room and do it with style. 

You see, once upon a time, I read some real estate advice advocating seeking out properties with fireplaces. The author added that fireplaces had miraculous powers making even the tiniest space can feel grand, luxurious, and charming. 

I guess that was true because we purchased our first fixer-upper when I was 23 years old. It was a dump, but it’s saving grace was that it was a dump with a wood-burning fireplace.

Somehow the buried oil tank and termite issues didn’t even phase us. In fact, we burned one full cord of wood while relaxing during the first winter season. 

We’re convinced the crackling of the fire during the open house is what made the house sell for a high market value during a dead housing market. I’m sure the champagne helped, too.

So, for our next project, we sought out a property with a fireplace and repeated the same formula when we sold it.

Ideas For Decorating a Fireplace Mantel

Decorating a mantle doesn’t have to be that complicated. It actually comes down to just a few simple rules and some trial and error.

Keeping proportion and balance in mind while decorating will ensure a cohesive look. Since mantels are usually large in size smaller items can get lost and appeared cluttered. When it comes to small decor items apply the less is more rule.

Should Your Fireplace Decor Be Symmetry or Asymmetry?

The choice is yours. Whether you choose symmetry or asymmetry decor style, both will create balance. It’s entirely a matter of preference. 

Most traditional designs will use symmetry; an example of this would be placing “identical items” on each side of the mantle.  The mantle pictured below has created symmetry by placing a large piece of art in the center as the anchor of the design and using the same pot on the ends of the mantle. 

Simple mantel decor with scandi cow and plants

If you would like to create asymmetry, place decorative items in groups. A décor principle that always works well is grouping things in odd numbers. Usually, my go-to is groups of threes. 

From Our Collection

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Framed highland cow art print.
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Layering and Styling Your Mantel

Asymmetry designs play right into the farmhouse decor.

To create a cozy and casual feel, layer items of varying sizes. In the following example, the artwork is not hung; it’s placed on the mantle and leaned. This provides a more relaxed design.

Place large scale items in the back to create a focal point. Use smaller accessories in the front to provide interest and details.

To add dimension to your mantel design, add a mix of heights. You can place your small items on top of decorative boxes or books to create varying heights.

Be sure that the items relate to each other. In other words, they’re all in the same color family or made of the same material, such as wood. This will help keep the design modern.

Three Unique Ideas For Decorating A Mantel Year Round

Using Mirrors When Decorating a Fireplace Mantel

Mirrors are an excellent choice for decorating a mantle and are timeless. Depending on how they are positioned, they can add depth and reflect features in the room.

Unlike artwork, which makes a LOUD statement, a mirror adds a lot of style without complicating the design.

In other words, you will not have to work as hard to make it work with other pieces. Of course, if the room is grand, as shown in the example below, the frame and size of the mirror should be to scale. The ornate frame adds to the drama; however, the other items on the mantle are simple.

Lastly, mirrors can be used as part of a large arrangement or can work well alone.

Decorating with a mirror over fireplace mantel

Update Your Fireplace Mantel

Many homeowners I’ve worked with have complained about not liking their mantels. My recommendation would be the following. If you have outdated brick on your fireplace, you maybe interested in the German Smear Brick technique which will provide an inexpensive and fantastic transformation. Check out my tutorial here How To Create The German Schmear Look.

Another option would be to paint your mantel, update the surround of the fireplace with tiles, or change it altogether. Hayneedle has some great options from, basic designs to ornate. I provided two examples below.

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Complete The Decorating Like a Pro

Okay, now that your mantel is looking fancy, you may begin to feel that the lower section of your fireplace appears a little neglected. If that is the case, add one or a few well-chosen pieces to complete the design.

This is where you can add an element that is both decorative and useful. Choosing a firewood holder helps bring in some nature and warmth from the wood logs.

Decor for fireplace
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Pewter fire wood holder
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In Conclusion

Decorating a mantle correctly will take your fireplace from a lovely to, “Wow, your fireplace looks worthy of a photoshoot for Better Homes and Gardens magazine.”

Your fireplace provides warmth, ambiance, and a place your family gathers. Decorating a mantel to showcase its full potential will only allow the time spent in front of it to be all the more special. 

For more home styling tips and tricks drop by anytime. Hey, we’re always up for company.

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