7 Simple Ways to Style a Mantel

The mantel is the architectural focal point in any room and how it’s styled has a lot of impact on the look of a space.  The mantel is an opportunity to accessorize with heirlooms, art, or other meaningful mementos.  Here are seven ways to style your own mantel at home! 

Big & Bold.   Adding a statement piece of art above the mantel is a no fail solution and the bigger the better, just be sure your chosen work is proportional to the space where it hangs, allowing for the appropriate wall space around the frame. 


large scale art over mantel


Placing your art off center and counterbalancing with accessories adds asymmetrical interest.


offset art on mantel bhg



Mirror Mirror on the Wall.   An alternative to artwork is a statement mirror placed over the mantel.  Couple it with decorative urns and fill them with cut branches or seasonal flowers for a fresh and natural look that changes every few weeks. 


mirror and branches on mantel


Because all mantels are square in shape, also consider round, oblong, or geometric edge mirrors to add a different shape to the room.


round mirror over mantel bhg


Think Oddly. The placement of decorative objects in odd numbers creates asymmetrical balance. Two objects to the left and three objects to the right (with art or a mirror in the middle) will guarantee an interesting yet uncluttered mantel.

how to style a mantel 1


Layer It Up.  Meaningful photographs on display instantly personalize a home, and layering them in matching frames in different sizes adds greater interest than frames that are all the same size. 


layered pictures on mantel


Double Duty.  In many American family rooms, the complication arises of where to place the flat screen TV.  Placing it above the mantel solves the dilemma and creates one center of attention instead of two, simplifying the furniture placement in the space. 


tv over fireplace


Seasonal Sprucing.   This foundation of this mantel is the large scale mirror in the center and glass candlesticks placed to the sides.  A fresh boxwood wreath, grass in pots, and spring accessories welcome Easter.  At Christmas, the same idea applies – substitute nutcrackers and bright colored ornaments for eggs to create a festive holiday mantel.   


easter mantel


Be Playful.  This mantel is styled with two prints centered in the middle and natural objects placed in symmetry below.  When styling your mantel, use art, a large photograph, or a mirror in the middle, then play around with different sizes and shapes to achieve an eclectic look on the ledge below.  The items need not be exact replicas, but related to each other in color or texture.


natural textures mantel styling


The same principles are applied in this mantel below, with the black and white photographs grounding the display and the silver urns and candlesticks thoughtfully placed to the sides.


balanced photographs and objects on mantel


Following any of these simple principles will give you a mantel display that sure to appeal and reflect your personal style.  What on display on your mantel?

16 Responses to “ 7 Simple Ways to Style a Mantel ”

  1. What about a two story corner fireplace? This is my biggest dilemma in my house. Any ideas would be great!

  2. Jill, I also have a corner mantle and dealing with that corner is a pain. I recently solved it by using a collection of family photos in an overlapping, multiple height/picture size arrangement. I’m happy but would also like some other ways to style it!

  3. Hi! I also have a corner fireplace with a stacked mantel meaning there are 4 shelves that get smaller going upwards b/c of the corner. Does that make sense? Any help would be awesome! Thanks!

  4. Hi Jill, Stephanie, and Marlene, yes corner fireplaces are tricky and if they come in at an angle it makes styling them difficult. For that situation, I visualize a grid of four pieces of art or large scale black and white photographs in the same size frames with one on top of the other facing each other and a gorgeous urn on the mantel below in the middle – perhaps some smaller objects casually placed to the side.

  5. My mantle has a window above it. Suggestions?

  6. For the coner mantle pieces if faced with one I would place 2 mirrors (in nice frames – like a painting type of idea, even different sizes but keep the hsapes more or less the same. So if going for rectangle use square if you like or round with oval etc) opposite one another meeting at the coner (or close) leaving enough space to put a sculture (or any 3d object with an intersting back) or even placing smaller hidden ones behind the main front sculoture/object in the middle of the common coner so that it is reflected back in the mirrors giving it more depth and showing off the back of the item (or surprising by revealing the items behind the main one that can be seen by the eye…) I hope it makes sense…I haven’t tried this look yet so I don’t know if it would work…

  7. Ohh and for the window one… If you can afford it…Or find it from an old house type…A lead light window then frame the window to make it look like an artwork… That’s what I would do if I were faced with a window over my fire place…

  8. In the last picture, what is the wall color?? I like it!

  9. I have a brick fireplace in the center of the room from floor to ceiling. I have no mantle. I have three stair step bricks on the brick. How do I decorate it?

  10. BHG had so many lovely ideas for decorating the mantel. I used a few of them here: http://embracemyspace.com/2013/01/10/time-to-mantel-up-inspiration-for-styling-your-mantel/


  11. I have a very large mantle that runs the length of a wall in a great room. There is a fireplace in the middle of that mantle, but the rock does not run up the wall, which means the mantle is one long piece across it anf very large. Not sure if a big clock or art work in the middle of it would be good. Other than that, i’m not sure what else to put on it.

  12. i love the round mirror in the 3rd photo. It has a unique braid design. Any idea where its from?

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