How To Decorate A Fireplace Mantel

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The living room is often the central gathering area of a home, with the fireplace as the main focal point. Decorating the mantel above your fireplace adds style and personality to the living room, and accentuates the room's main area of focus. Create a mantel decoration set up that reflects both your personal style, and the theme of the living room. Use these tips on how to decorate a fireplace mantel to quickly and easily transform your boring or mismatched mantel into a chic and affordadable design feature. 

How To Decorate A Fireplace Mantel

Photos: The fireplace mantel is a popular place to display some of the most beloved photos of family and friends.

  • Select decorative frames in varying sizes to place at one or both ends.
  • Choose frame colors that compliment your décor and living room theme.
  • For larger photos that must be hung over the mantel rather than placed on it, select a frame that compliments the style of your living room. Think minimal for simplistically designed rooms, and ornate for more elegant and formal living rooms.

Books: If you have a large collection of books, or just a few favorites, stacking several of them on your fireplace mantel is a great way to decorate with and display your love of literature.

  • To mix up the typical vertical stack placed between book ends, try resting a few beautifully bound books on their sides, letting their bindings face the room.
  • You can place a candle, decoration or photo on top of the stack to add extra height and dimension.
  • The books you display should not only be visually appealing, but also represent subjects important to you. Display your personality and your style.
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Lighting: The fireplace mantel should not be your main source of lighting for the living room, but adding small touches of light creates a stylish way to accent photos, paintings and adornments.

  • Place several candles in varying sizes on either end of the mantel to create a romantic, flickering light, or a small lamp on one or both ends for brighter, more constant lighting.
  • During the holidays, placing a string of white or colored lights along the top edge of your mantle adds extra flair.
  • Placing a mirror above your fireplace will not only reflect the surrounding room, but the light as well. If your mantel is opposite a window or lighting fixture, the mirror will reflect light back into the room, making it appear brighter without the addition of an actual window or light.

Novelties: If you keep a collection of something, try displaying several of your items on the fireplace mantel.

  • Small statues, figurines, artifacts or souvenirs from foreign countries are all great ways to add your personal touch to a mantel.
  • Display some of your favorite items as conversation pieces for guests to enjoy.
  • Holidays are a great time to place seasonal decorations along the mantel.
  • In spring, use natural items like flowers, branches and eggs for Easter.
  • In fall, place small pumpkins, leaves and straw along the mantle
  • In the winter, use garlands, pinecones, white or red flowers and holiday related figurines to celebrate the season.

Flowers: Flower arrangements are always a great way to add color and life to a room.

  • For the mantel, use clear vases to create the illusion of less space being taken up, or pick vases in colors and styles that match the theme of your living room.
  • For larger mantels, taller, bolder flowers are appropriate and add to the grand scale of the fireplace.
  • For smaller mantels, stick to shorter, smaller flowers in modestly sized and styled vases.
  • Choose floral arrangement colors and styles that not only blend well with the living room, but the season as well. Stick to light colors in spring, bright pinks and oranges in summer, orange, yellow and brown in the fall, and red, white and green for the winter.

Art: The mantel is a great place to show off your favorite piece of art. Decorate a fireplace mantel with pieces you created, or some favorite works you've picked up through the years. 

  • For large paintings, simply set them on the mantel like an easel, rather than hanging.
  • For smaller paintings, chose a frame style that reflects the theme of your room, as well as the size and scale of your fireplace and mantel. The frame should accentuate the painting and the room around it, rather than appear overwhelming.

Learning how to decorate a fireplace mantel is easy. Select a few key pieces to place on your mantel, and create a stylish space in your living room. Display family photos, books, works of art, collectibles or an arrangement of bright, beautiful flowers. Make sure your mantel decorations reflect your personal style, as well as the theme of your living room, and you'll be sure to create a display you'll love.

Last Updated: March 21, 2012
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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