To enhance the natural beauty of your fireplace with decorative touches, open your mind to the variety of possibilities. Favorite collections, noteworthy art, and family photos are just a sampling of the accents that can add personality and style to this noteworthy focal point. The arrangement of your favorite items can be a striking statement that complements your room's style. Everyday accessories, family heirlooms, and artwork might be the foundations of your decorating scheme, but creative placement and clever additions make your fireplace glow. Whether your style is traditional, contemporary, or anything between, explore these tips for arranging your decorative fireplace elements with inspiring results.
Make a Connection
When choosing items to display on your mantel or hang on the fireplace wall, select items with something in common.
- A favorite collection, such as pottery, sculptures, or old books, adds your personal touch. The more the merrier. Without crowding them, fill the mantel with your collection, propping items at different heights and arranging them as a noteworthy collection.
- A single color palette connects objects that otherwise don't seem to go together. Show off your favorite color or a hue that complements the room's decor with any variety of decorative things: candles, vases, picture frames, or artwork.
- A theme that relates your items does the same cohesiveness trick as a consistent color palette. Gather items from nature and blend them with a pretty plant and botanical prints. Display items that relate to a special hobby.
- Use repetition to make your display interesting and graphic. Three black-and-white photos of your children at play, matted and framed precisely the same, for instance, will make a striking statement.
Create a Single Showstopper
Use a single, substantial item to enhance the fireplace's role as a focal point. Hang a piece of art or a large mirror above the mantel or, for more casual style, prop it on the mantel leaning against the wall. Make sure the piece is large enough to balance the space above the fireplace. If the wall is tall, keep a hanging piece close enough to the mantel to anchor it with the fireplace so the piece does not appear to float aimlessly. A minimal mantel design is most appropriate in a room furnished in the same simple style; a minimal mantel might appear empty and bare in a room filled with large, overstuffed furniture.
Layer Three-Dimensional Objects
When choosing multiple items to display across your mantel, gather a variety of shapes and sizes to create visual interest. To arrange, start by placing taller items against the back of the mantel. Vary the heights for visual energy. Then, layer in items of different heights and sizes, leaving some gaps for breathing room. Blend a couple of larger items with small objects, but don't let a large, high mantel swallow up items that are too small.
Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical
To help you create a pleasing mantel display of multiple items, consider using either a symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangement. The choice is a matter of personal preference and the look you want to achieve.
- A symmetrical arrangement is the easiest and most popular approach when creating a display. The result is classic and visually pleasing. To create this balanced design, start with your focal point object -- usually the largest one or the one with the most visual weight -- and work outward, creating mirror images on the left and right sides. Items don't have to be identical, just related.
- An asymmetrical arrangement harmonizes objects of different shapes and sizes. The key is maintaining balance without placing everything in a straight line. Balance vertical elements with horizontal ones. Weigh a tall, large item with several smaller ones. Asymmetrical arrangements are especially popular in modern decors.
Beyond the Mantel
Decorating a fireplace shouldn't be limited to the space on the mantel and above. Consider the hearth and firebox, too.
- During the off-season (or if you don't use your fireplace) fill the firebox with fresh, white birch logs to play down the big, dark hole in your room. A traditional "fire" arrangement offers a classic touch. For a more graphic approach, stack the logs lengthwise front to back so you're looking at the cut end of the logs. Or, prop them, nearly standing, so they lean to the back of the firebox.
- Common decorations for the fireplace hearth include a fireplace screen and tools. While these items are utilitarian, they can make a statement by complementing your room's decor and reflecting your style. Fireplace screens, especially, are available in artistic styles to suit your look, whether it's whimsical or sleek contemporary. An artistic or ornate piece can add interesting variety to utilitarian hearth elements. Large items -- a basket of logs, a potted plant, or a piece of sculpture -- also make an appropriate statement against the large architectural element that is your fireplace.
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