18 Chic Fireplace Mantel Decorating Ideas & Tips

fireplace mantle

Coming up with fireplace mantle decorating ideas is easy. It is trying to decide which items that you would like to prominently display on your mantle that is the hard part.

The Basics of Fireplace Mantle Decorating

Whether your mantle is large or small, fancy or plain, there are a few key basics you must keep in mind when choosing decorations.

  • Balance - The fireplace mantle is more often than not the focal point of a room. Find a good mix of both large and small items to place on your mantle to create a balanced look.
  • Mantle size - Choose items that are proportionate to the size of your mantle. Very small items will virtually disappear on larger mantles and very big items will look out of place on smaller mantles.
  • Overall room décor - If the room in which the fireplace exists is decorated in an Art Deco style, you don't want to place Victorian style antiques on your mantle, it will look out of place and throw the entire look and feel of the room completely off.
  • Number of items - You may want to display hundreds of your favorite things on your mantle but please, resist the urge. The beauty of each individual item will get lost in the clutter, and the overall look will be messy and disorganized.
  • Flammability - If your fireplace is functional, it is probably not a good idea to place your favorite first edition books, a kerosene oil lamp or anything else that will easily catch fire on the mantle.
Fireplace mantel
Warm Cabin Fireplace

Easy Fireplace Mantle Decorating Ideas

The following fireplace mantle decorating ideas are simple and easy. A lot of the items can be found around your house, so there is no need to go out and buy a bunch of new things.

  • Create a centerpiece - Place your favorite framed piece of art in the center of the mantle to create a main focal point. Make sure the artwork is in proportion with the fireplace mantle so it does not look out of place. If you don't have a favorite piece of art, choose a mirror or a beautiful floral arrangement.
  • Groupings of similar items - Once you have placed your centerpiece, place groups of similar items on either side, toward the end of the mantle. Try a small grouping of the same type of vases (either same color or style) or a few black and white photos in the same color or type of picture frames. Having small groupings on either side of the centerpiece offers both uniformity and balance.
  • Mantel runners - Draw the eye to your beautifully decorated mantel with a mantel runner that is interesting in color and texture.
  • Seasonal changes-Consider switching out your fireplace mantle decorations seasonally. This is easily done by adding twinkling lights or garland during the winter holiday season, interesting gourds and mini pumpkins during the fall holidays and brightly colored pictures during the spring and summer time.

Popular Mantle Items

In addition to the above ideas, consider focusing on specific items as collections or just displayed in small groups.

  • Candles-Group candles of different sizes in the same or varying colors.
  • Souvenirs-While not all souvenirs will look appropriate on a fireplace, those that are actually hand-crafted items from other countries may look great if they are elegantly displayed across the mantle.
  • Photos-Whether you display family photos, landscapes, or some other type of photography, artfully arranging photographs in beautiful frames across the mantle is an easy decorating option.
  • Pottery-Consider adding pottery on each side of the mantle, or group pottery with candles for an eclectic look to your fireplace.
  • Plants-Consider placing plants, either real or artificial, on your mantle, or collect dried flowers and place in an elegant vase or rustic piece of pottery. Remember to keep anything flammable well away from the edge to eliminate the risk of fire.
  • Collectibles-Whether you love collecting plates or antique coins, displaying a small group of collectibles along your mantle is a lovely way to share your love of these items and decorate your fireplace as well.
Painted fireplace
Painted fireplace

Things to Avoid

A beautifully decorated mantle can be ruined if the following things are not avoided:

  • Too much of anything - Be selective when placing decorative items on your mantle. Clutter is never attractive.
  • Not enough variety - Sure you are looking for balance and uniformity but placing too many of the same items on your mantle is boring. Create interest by combining items that "go" together. Meaning, not all of your items have to match in color, shape and size. For example, if you have decided on pictures, choose frames that have the same lines like rectangular frames paired with square frames or circular frames alongside oval frames.
  • A lot of different colors - The differing colors, unless they are within the same color family, will compete for attention and create visual noise.

There Is No Right or Wrong Way

Decorating is a way to reflect your personality and since there is no one in the world exactly like you, your fireplace mantle decorating ideas should be inspired by things you love, no matter what anyone else thinks. If you have a collection of snow globes you want to display, go for it. If it is antique candlesnuffers you love, put 'em out there. Don't be afraid to experiment with different items and design ideas until you find the perfect mix to match your personality.

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18 Chic Fireplace Mantel Decorating Ideas & Tips