How to Decorate a Fireplace Mantel

Well-Decorated Fireplace Mantel
Well-Decorated Fireplace Mantel | Source

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It's not a bad thing to leave your fireplace mantel bare and untouched, but a little bit of decoration can bring many advantages. A well-decorated mantelpiece can render a stunning focal point, add personality to an otherwise lackluster fireplace, strengthen the theme of the room as well as make the entire space look more stylish. As inspiring as that may sound, decorating a fireplace mantel is not always an easy task. It's not just about putting up whatever knickknacks you find alluring. To execute this home-decor project like a pro, you've got to consider the overall mood and other elements of the room as well. Once you get a solid idea on how to fit it into the big picture, the rest will be a walk in the park!

Fireplace Mantel Gone Gothic
Fireplace Mantel Gone Gothic | Source

Theme and Mood

Think of your mantelpiece as the fireplace's headwear, then imagine the rest of room to be its outfit. You wouldn't wear a baseball cap with a Givenchy cocktail dress, would you? And a diamond tiara wouldn't look so classy with gym clothing, would it? Always make sure your mantel decorations complement the theme of the room. For example, if you have a shabby-chic living room, framed black-and-white photos, vases of fresh flowers and decoupage art pieces would be great items to put on your fireplace mantel. For an Asian-inspired space, you could go with a Buddha statue, mini tea set, collection of Japanese wooden dolls, pair of incense jars, or bonsais. Also, ask yourself what kind of mood or atmosphere you would like to build? Relaxing, elegant, festive, luxurious, quirky or romantic? Allow the mood of the room to dictate your mantel decoration. Don't always follow the norm of what's "pretty" or what most people do. I wouldn't consider a crossbow and arrows to be flattering mantel ornaments for my own living room, yet in this picture of a gothic "man cave", they not only make sense but also lend the space a unique charm.

Seasonal Decoration

Fireplace Mantel with Fall Ornaments
Fireplace Mantel with Fall Ornaments | Source

If you're not drawn to any décor theme in particular, you might want to decorate your fireplace mantel in consonance with the mood of each season instead. It would be quite refreshing to redecorate your mantelpiece every few months anyway, wouldn't it? However, keep in mind that your seasonal decoration should also work in harmony with the look of the entire room.

Fireplace Mantel Decorating Ideas for Each Season

Spring
Summer
Fall & Winter
artificial moss
decorative corals
decorative gourds and pumpkins
bird figurines
fresh flowers
maple leaf garland
colorful candles
jars of colorful sand and pebbles
orange and white candles
floral garland
model ships
pinecones
small potted shrubs
seashells
snowflake ornaments
vases of fresh flowers
summer postcards
winter wreath
Using the Fireplace Mantel to Store and Display Wines
Using the Fireplace Mantel to Store and Display Wines | Source

Fireplace Mantel and Functionality

Before decorating your fireplace mantel, you should also consider whether this little space can serve any functional purposes. In a previous article, Fireplace Makeover Ideas, I discuss how we may turn an unused fireplace into something more functional, such as an entertainment center and a mini wine cellar. It's the same thing with a fireplace mantel; it doesn't have to be exclusively decorative but can also be very useful. For example, if you have more books than bookcases, you may use your mantel as an extra bookshelf. Or if the room is suffering from inadequate light, your mantel may be a good spot to place a mirror or a couple lamps. And if you have a nice collection of wines, you could conveniently store and display part of your collection right above your fireplace. Cute wine bottles would be pretty simple yet recommendable mantel ornaments.

Mantelpiece Decor Arrangement

Fireplace Mantel with an Asymmetrical Arrangement
Fireplace Mantel with an Asymmetrical Arrangement | Source
Fireplace Mantel with a Symmetrical Arrangement
Fireplace Mantel with a Symmetrical Arrangement | Source

Once you pick the décor items for your fireplace mantel, the big question that readily follows is how to arrange them all together. If you favor orderliness, a symmetrical arrangement is the way to go. The picture on the right shows how this style of arrangement can render such a lovely visual interest and elegant touch to the room. Conversely, in the picture above, knickknacks and candles of random sizes are grouped together in an asymmetrical fashion. Such an arrangement, although lacks a sense of order, does offer a charm of casualness. Another good question to ask yourself is: how much decoration does your fireplace mantel actually need? If you have a small living room, try to resist the temptation of overdecorating. It could appear overwhelming rather than artsy. One large mirror or framed picture along with a few small items should do the trick. For a spacious living room with a grand fireplace, on the other hand, you can go all the way with the decoration, especially if you want to make it the biggest focal point of the room. The design of your fireplace also matters. While a nondescript fireplace may be in need of stylish ornaments, a striking-looking one as in the picture below hardly requires any extra decoration. If you have a gorgeous fireplace like this, it's better to keep the mantel decoration minimal and allow the fireplace to simply show itself off!

Fireplace Mantel with Minimal Decoration
Fireplace Mantel with Minimal Decoration | Source

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Comments 19 comments

Elizabeth Stone profile image

Elizabeth Stone 4 years ago from California

I have a massive fireplace mantel -- these are great ideas. Thanks!


Riverfish24 profile image

Riverfish24 4 years ago from United States

Wow, fab hub and what a unique topic! Nice work Om and I love the last pic..sigh!


LetitiaFT profile image

LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

Great ideas. Any suggestions for mantels with mirrors built into the walls above them? I have three like that and whatever I put on them is reflected and ends up looking cluttered...


kmaskreations profile image

kmaskreations 4 years ago

Great hub...Beautiful pics and ideas. Can't wait til the holidays. Thanks for sharing :)


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@Elizabeth Stone - You're very welcome. Happy decorating!

@Riverfish - Oh yeah, I love that pic, too! Thanks for dropping by.

@LeticiaFt - I think you should go with small stuff like candles, little figurines and low vases. And it's probably better to arrange them in one straight line and keep the look simple (like pic # 5) instead of layering them together (like pic # 1 and #3).

@kmaskreations - Thanks! I'm glad to hear this hub got you excited about mantel decoration.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

Fireplace mantels have always been a bit daunting to me because they are such a focal point. Love these creative ideas! You've made decorating a fireplace mantel much easier! Now I just need to find a place with a fireplace! ;) Voted up, awesome and shared.


healingsword profile image

healingsword 4 years ago from California

Hi Om, Creative and beautiful ideas in this Hub. I love the minimalist one best because the stone fireplace itself is so gorgeous, making it unnecessary to decorate it further, as you explain so well. I also like your seasonal ideas grid.


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Om, I don't have a fireplace, but after reading your article, I truly wished that I did! Maybe you can write a Hub for a fireplace substitute? LOL!


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA

For some reason having a fireplace mantle inspires change over time. I have gone with the bare look for a time and then to a candle based theme. It is a nice space and focal point to play around with and sometimes get frustrated with as well. Your hub offers a nice variety of ideas and inspiration.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Great idea for a hub. I've lived in my house for 18 years and have just this year settled on an arrangement I really like. Christmas is always a challenge. Would love to see some ideas on that. You have a gift.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@lindacee - Thanks for dropping by, Linda. Glad you like my suggestions and tips. I agree a fireplace always draws people's attention and you can't really hide it. So yeah, it could be a bit daunting to decorate.

@healingsword - Thanks, Ann. I like that stone fireplace a lot, too. So perfect in itself.

@Arlene - Put a fireplace poster on a wall, under a wall-mounted shelf. There you go!!! LOL

@Tracy Lynn Conway - Thanks, Tracy. I agree a fireplace mantel tends to bring out the interior designer in you. It's hard to resist the urge to switch things around and redecorate every now and then.

@Kathleen Cochran - Yeah, mantel Christmas decoration would be a really fun topic. Maybe I'll write about that at some point!


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia

We do not have fireplace and there is no need for them in our hot and humid weather. However, during my student days in UK, I remembered painting the fireplace wall striking red. It gives an impression of a warmth room, so less coins to feed the heating machine! The landlord even give us rebate on the house rent 'cos he too liked the idea. I cannot remember if there was any mantelpiece though.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@greatstuff - Painting the fireplace wall red is such a nice idea! I love it. And yeah, my house in Bangkok doesn't have a fireplace, either. It gets really cold for only about 1 week a year! lol


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

I really needed this hub - my mantel has an odd collection of photographs and no cohesive theme. My little biochemist brain doesn't understand "design" very well - I love the idea of a mirror propped up on the mantel! I will have to start thinking about fall themes since autumn is just around the corner!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@leahlefler - Hey, don't understatemate your biochemist brain! You just haven't found your inner interior designer yet. Glad you like these mantel decorating ideas and tips. Have fun decorating!


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

You have such great style! As I was reading I kept looking at my mantle to think...hhmmm, what could I change! Now I'm on a mission. Thanks for the ideas. Awesome and up. -K


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago Author

@ksharp - I'm so happy to hear you are inspired by these fireplace mantel ideas, Kristi! Thanks so much for your comments and votes.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Enjoyed your hub good ideas. I miss my fireplace I enjoyed decorating the mantel. Voted up.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@moonlake - Glad you like these fireplace mantel ideas. Thanks for your comment and vote. :)

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