Creative Mantel Decor Ideas

living room
If your house has a fireplace—lucky!—you have the undeniable pleasure of decorating a mantel. Think of it as an extra-special showcase for collectibles, artwork, and even the TV. Here are 12 creative mantel decor ideas that sizzle.

Treat It Like a Shelf

Most fireplace mantels are several inches deep, so they can be decorated like any other open shelf. Start with a large piece of eye-catching art as the anchor (fasten it to the wall if you'd like, or simply lean it without mounting for a dose of nonchalance), then group smaller pieces — candlesticks, potted plants, books, and other artful objects — on either side. Vary their heights and shapes for an intriguing display.

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

Mantel Decor Made Easy

Watch and learn the formula for a perfectly decorated mantel. Every. Single. Time.

Go Big

For major impact with a single stroke, nothing beats a statement piece. This painting stretches about as high as the firebox and nearly as wide as the mantel itself. The mantel decor commands attention, even in a room dressed with many intriguing pieces. Round out the arrangement with a handful of small items that will cede the spotlight to the statement piece.

Right of Center

The most successful fireplace decorating ideas are not perfectly equal on both sides, but each has roughly even visual weight. Try your hand at an asymmetrical display by starting with one large piece -- such as the square painting on this mantel -- and setting it just off center. Add a few elements to the left, then offset them with a couple items on the right. Keep fiddling with the arrangement until both sides look balanced.

A Bit of Paint

Though mantels are often the same color or material as the fireplace, they don't have to be. A band of black paint on this fireplace mantel sets it off from the white brick hearth below and makes every object on its surface practically leap for joy. The darker hue also lends visual weight to the display and draws the eye in. Not too shabby for less than a quart of paint, no?

Layer 'Em Up

Don't be afraid to layer items; it adds depth, character, and texture to the fireplace mantel decor. Letting frames overlap, and having big pieces peek out from behind smaller ones, gives the impression that a display has been built over time rather than all at once.

Out in the Open

Why hide the TV as though you never watch it? (It's OK; we all watch TV.) Go ahead and situate the screen front and center, and surround it with sconces and small, framed drawings, as in this family room. These additional fireplace mantel ideas give the screen a place of prominence, while softening the boxy black mass of the screen.

Classically Symmetrical

Part of what makes traditional rooms, well, traditional, is that they are symmetrical—not to the point of boredom but rather as a means of bringing order and tranquility to a room. Decorating a fireplace mantel should be the same idea. Here, a large painting sits precisely centered above the firebox. It's flanked by two sconces and a few smaller objects in near-perfect symmetry and serenity.

Oh, Deer!

Antlers are having a moment. No longer reserved just for log cabins and lodges, antlers, both real and faux, are rearing up in home design, and they make a big statement in fireplace mantel designs. Rather than going rustic, keep decorations fresh and bright by partnering a deer skull with chalky walls, abstract artwork, and light-filled spaces. It'll add an organic element to an otherwise sleek space, like this living room.

Get Personal

A mantel can be the perfect platform for showcasing personal collections, whether conventional (pottery or framed photographs) or out-of-the-box (seaside trinkets and an antique fan, as in this living room). Be sure to repeat motifs, materials, and colors on the mantel that appear elsewhere in the room—this ties all your mantel decorating ideas together in a cohesive theme.

Let It Shine

Most rooms could use a boost of sparkle, and the mantel is a fantastic spot for it. Introduce mirrors, candlesticks, vintage trophies, crystal sconces, and other pieces with metallic or shiny surfaces to bring out the bling.

Mat, Frame, Repeat

Never underestimate the power of repetition. (Should we say that again for emphasis?) When matted, framed, and arranged, a set of different sizes of vintage photos becomes a unified, attention-grabbing statement piece. The repetition erases the differences in the photos' sizes and shapes, and the arrangement as a whole catches your attention.

Beauty from Nature

Nature never ceases to provide gorgeous inspiration for interiors: Behold the natural beauty of a wood-framed mirror, bamboo-boxed orchid, hunk of driftwood, and a feathery plant clustered together on a mantel. Each item lends an intriguing, organic shape and rugged texture to the display. Look high and low in the great outdoors for seashells, branches, flowers, nuts, pods, and more to enhance the indoors.

Share the gallery

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.