Creative Ideas for Your Mantel
Turn your fireplace mantel into a wow-worthy focal point with a decorating makeover.
Everything In This Slideshow
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Overlap artwork to make any mantel stand out. The key is to make sure the pieces vary in height and width. Here, a wooden palette becomes the backdrop while a photo frame and painting overlap each other. Off to the side, chunky candleholders bookend the layered pieces.
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The right mix of accessories can enhance a simple fireplace mantel. Try this easy formula: hang a mirror in the middle and a sconce on either side. Anchor the mantel with a larger vase in front of the mirror and fill in with smaller accessories, such as vases, candlesticks, and decorative objects. Pick up on colors and materials found elsewhere in the room. Here, a mix of white, blue, and gold pieces reflect the room's palette. Vary the height and visual weight of items and you'll be on your way to a well-dressed mantel.
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Create a mantel made with a few supplies from a home improvement store. Start with a shelf and thick wood shelf brackets, and decorative gingerbread (flat pieces of carved wood). Paint all the elements the same color, and mount the shelf and brackets above the fireplace and the gingerbread beneath the shelf.
Watch this mantel be transformed from blah to wow and learn how you can do the same in your home.
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Symmetrical arrangements project a classic order. Dress up your fireplace wall with a pair of wall sconces, one mounted on each side of the fireplace, with a round mirror in the middle. Use similar shaped objects on the mantel to maintain the orderly look. Here, tapered footed vases mimic the shape of the candle sconces on the wall.
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Coordinate Your Art
Consider how art above the mantel relates to the mantel and fireplace, both in terms of style and size. For a cohesive style, pair like with like. The size of your art should proportionately fill the space. If a piece is too small, arrange it with a few other hanging pieces. Here, a pastoral painting melds with a rustic mantel piece, while the bright and pure colors balance out the patina. The canvas stretches close to the ceiling and doesn't read as too small.
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Illuminate with Lighting
Industrial-style sconces give this mantel definition and a stylish source of light. A round mirror helps to break up all of the straight lines throughout the room. The rustic reclaimed-wood mantel is the perfect setting for a few selective accessories to add a decorative touch. When there isn't much space between the mantel and ceiling, focus on accessorizing with just a few smaller pieces, rather than layering on the baubles.
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For a new take on the mirror-above-the-mantel look, try layering a small mirror over a larger one. Hang a large, plain mirror above your mantel and then place a smaller, decorative mirror in front.
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Jolt of Energy
If you're lucky to have a mantel with character, let the mantel be the star by minimizing your accessories. Fill the wall space with a simple mirror and pair of sconces and just a few well-placed objects. For a classic-with-a-twist look, start with a pair of vases in the middle and vary what's on either side of them.
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Flat-panel TVs often find a place above a fireplace. But the look can disrupt the fireplace's decorative facade. Reclaim your fireplace's appearance by recessing the unit into the wall behind the fireplace and enclosing it with bifold doors. Here, the doors are clad in beaded board to match the coffered ceiling.
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With built-in cabinetry on either side of this fireplace, the mantel extends the entire length of the wall. A mirror and two sconces are used to emphasize the middle of the wall and fireplace. Leaning pictures and seaside treasures give personality to the mantel while a color palette of green, white, and brown coordinates the ensemble.
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A large, graphic painting transforms this timeworn mantel. Neutral objects such as a brown jug, a small basket, and found objects let the painting be the center of attention while still making the mantel feel complete.
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Add character to your fireplace wall with molding. Paint molding pieces the same color as the wall and install in rectangular shapes that fill the space around your fireplace. In this living room, one large rectangle "frames" the space above the mantel, while a narrow rectangle on each side of the fireplace fills the space and draws the eye upward.
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Make Colors Pop
A steely blue wall makes a traditional white fireplace instantly pop. When mixed with a gold sunburst mirror, the mantel becomes the center of attention in this living room. By adding simple accessories, like candlesticks and matching deer figurines, the mantel feels personalized.
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The Whole Picture
Consider your entire fireplace wall when designing your mantel. If your fireplace is flanked by built-ins, consider how the look of the built-ins relates to the mantel. In this living room, the objects on display in the built-ins coordinate with the colors of the abstract painting above the fireplace.
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Clean and Classic Look
In a space where contrast is strong, mantel accessories can be simple. Here, the white mantel extends to the wall and frames a mirror. A few glass candleholders and other objects let the character of the fireplace surround shine.
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Play with objects of different heights when decorating your mantel. Here, tall, whispy branches draw the eye upward while books set vertically and horizontally emphasize the simple, sleek molding. A large, horizontal mirror with a gilded frame adds character to the mantel space.
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Color is the great decorating reviver. One simple addition of color can completely change a room's look. Try this trick on the wall above your fireplace. Choose a paint color based on an object that is already in your room: the background of an area rug or the print on a throw pillow. Apply the color to your fireplace wall for a quick and affordable update.
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Emphasize a room's height by displaying a tall frame, mirror, or art piece on your mantel. Choose an object that contrasts with the mantel for even more impact. Here, a salvaged architectural panel was outfitted with a mirror. The hewn finish of the piece stands out against the crisp white fireplace wall and relates to the natural textures found elsewhere in the room.
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To turn an ordinary fireplace into a focal point, paint the mantel and the wall above it a color that contrasts the room's main wall color. Base the color on another element within the room for a cohesive look. Here, the mantel's blue hue was matched to the stone on the fireplace surround.
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For an affordable mantel artwork update, try a decal to add visual interest without the cost of a gallery piece. Consider the size of the wall above your mantel and the width of the fireplace when picking out a decal to choose a design that isn't too small or too large.
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Country style leans casual but can be given a sophisticated vibe with a few contemporary elements. This stone fireplace is decidedly country, but the abstract artwork above the mantel lends a modern edge. Although stylistically different, the artwork blends with the room, thanks to its color palette. The blues, greens, and yellows in the painting pick up on the hues on the sofa, throw pillows, and accessories.
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A Twist on Symmetry
The dictionary defines symmetry as "beauty of form arising from harmonious proportions." We call it a can't-miss mantel strategy. Start with a large object in the center (here, driftwood), then place pairs of objects on either side. They don't have to be identical, just related. For example, two different terra-cotta pots still look like they belong together. Symmetry doesn't have to mean stiff -- the organic shapes of branches and seedpods keep this arrangement casual.
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Use your mantel to display items that reflect you and your interests. Here, a traditional white fireplace with intricate molding has an eclectic vibe thanks to a vast array of objects. A plain chalkboard is a backdrop for a modern and graphic canvas while a driftwood stick gives the mantel a more organic feel. Coral and a starfish elude to the home's beachy landscape while a silver bowl and vase add some shine to the picture. A small basket hangs from a single hook and stores large matches that can be used to start a roaring fire.