Creative Ideas for Your Mantel

brick mantel with picture frames decor flowers
Create a wow-worthy focal point with these fireplace mantel decorating ideas. Whether modern or boho, country or flea market, you’ll find plenty of ideas to suit your style.

Outstanding Overlapping

Overlap artwork to make any mantel stand out. The key is to make sure the pieces vary in height and width. Here, a wooden pallet becomes a unifying backdrop while a photo frame and painting overlap one another. Chunky candleholders bookend the layered pieces to complete the mantel ensemble.

More is More

Fireplace mantel decorating ideas that eschew minimalism and pull out all the stops are fun but require a bit of strategy and know-how. Scale is key—pick items that fill the space and are relative to one another. Here, a large piece of art dramatically emphasizes the height of the room, while two medium artworks properly fill out the arrangement. Other large pieces would have competed and smaller pieces would have created an imbalance. Establishing a theme, such as a common thread of color, unites the different elements.

Beautifully Off-Balance

An asymmetrical mantel arrangement feels cheeky and breezy, but it can also be a subtle and smart design strategy. By arranging the mantel’s artwork on the left, the eye is naturally drawn to the peppy sofa pillows on the left side of the fireplace. Simple accessories keep the focus on the mantel’s star artwork.

Layered Look

Skip the fancy artwork and let fun frames shine with this mantel decorating idea for every day. Simply layer several empty frames of various sizes and finishes on your mantel shelf. Complete the look with a few accessories (even a vintage croquet mallet will do) and finish with a flourish of flowers or greenery.

Elegance with Ease

Elegant mantel decorating ideas rely on constraint and thoughtful consideration of every detail. In this classic living room, a striking flourish of art deco-influenced wallpaper is the wow element. Everything else hangs back but holds its own. Delftware-like vases bookend the mantel for a pop of color.

Mix and Match

For an eclectic, personalized look, mix and match fireplace mantel decorating ideas across styles. Here, a bold contemporary painting adds color and balances the traditional styling of the white fireplace. Simple accessories keep the focus on the striking artwork.

Cool and Coordinated

In a neutral living room, use accessories that pull from colors found elsewhere. Here, blue and yellow vases pick up hues used on the sofa and the brown wood mirror frame repeats the finish of the floor, furniture, and shelves. The result is a mantel arrangement that feels right at home and doesn’t overshadow the charming dentil molding on the mantel.

Soothing Palette

The right mix of accessories can enhance a simple mantel. Try this strategy, which is one of the easiest fireplace mantel decorating ideas ever: 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.

Warmly White

Have a fireplace but no mantel? 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, then mount the shelf and brackets above the fireplace and the gingerbread beneath the shelf.

Bring style to your fireplace with these mantel decorating and arranging ideas.

Mantel Makeover

Need a quick mantel decorating idea for everyday? Watch this mantel be transformed from blah to wow and learn how you can do the same in your home. The simple formula employs scale, color, and rhythm to build an easy-to-replicate design.

Traditional Tableau

Symmetrical arrangements project a classic order. Use the approach as an elegant mantel decorating idea for instant chic. Start with a pair of wall sconces, one mounted on each side of the fireplace, and place a round mirror in the middle. Use similar-shape objects on the mantel to maintain the orderly look. Here, tapered, footed vases mimic the shape of the candle sconces on the wall.

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 mantelpiece, while the bright and pure colors balance out the patina. The canvas stretches close to the ceiling and doesn't read as too small.

Illuminate with Lighting

Industrial-style sconces give this mantel definition and a stylish source of light. A round mirror provides contrast to the abundance of straight lines throughout the room. The rustic reclaimed-wood mantel is perfect for displaying a few selective accessories. When there isn't much space between the mantel and ceiling, focus on accessorizing with just a few smaller pieces, rather than pulling out all the stops.

Double Reflection

For a new take on the mirror-above-the-mantel look, try this unique fireplace mantel decorating idea: Layer a small mirror over a larger one. Hang a large, plain mirror above your mantel and then place a smaller, decorative mirror in front. Reflective surfaces also bounce light around a room and can make a space feel larger—a major win in a small space.

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.

Media Mantel

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.

Extensive Mantel

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 natural treasures give personality to the mantel while a color palette of green, white, and brown coordinates the ensemble and unites the display to the rest of the room’s scheme.

Highlight Art

A large, striking painting transforms this timeworn mantel for a look that embodies both country and modern mantel decor ideas. 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. The mix of textures within the ensemble adds dimension to the monochromatic color palette.

Molding Magic

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 either side of the fireplace fills the space and draws the eye upward.

Make Colors Pop

Dress up a cookie-cutter fireplace by painting the surrounding wall a strong and striking color. In this living room, a steely midnight blue wall elevates an average white fireplace. 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.

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.

Clean and Classic Look

In a space where contrast is strong, mantel accessories can be simple. Here, a white mantelpiece extends to the wall and frames a mirror. A few glass candleholders and other objects feel intentional and complete the design, but their simplicity lets the character of the fireplace surround shine.

Varying Heights

Play with objects of different heights when decorating your mantel. Here, tall, wispy 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.

Color Block

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.

Vertical Contrast

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.

Contrasting Color

To turn an ordinary fireplace into a focal point, paint the mantel and the wall above it a color that contrasts with 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.

Affordable Update

For an affordable mantel artwork update, try a decal to add visual interest without the cost of a gallery piece. When picking out a decal, consider the size of the wall above your mantel and the width of the fireplace so you choose a design that isn't too small or too large. Here, a black clock detail on a white wall maintains an air of cool sophistication, which is maintained in the mantel’s display of black candlesticks and white candles. A few well-placed books add subtle dimension, while a vase of yellow flowers provides restrained pop.

Contemporary Country

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.

A Twist on Symmetry

The dictionary defines symmetry as "beauty of form arising from harmonious proportions." We call it a can't-miss fireplace mantel decorating idea. 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.

Eclectic Edge

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.

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