The fireplace mantel most often serves as the focal point of any living area. As such, you will want to invest proper time and effort coming up with ideas when styling your fireplace mantel decor. However, decorating a mantel poses some unique challenges to all DIY designers.
With a mantel, one will have to work on a narrow ledge but at the same time on a surface that is taller than a nightstand and considerably longer as well. In short, it is not the easiest thing to strike the right arrangement when styling a fireplace mantel. So, ahead are a bunch of tips, ideas and principles that I hope will inspire you with some great ideas and will also help you avoid some common mistakes and pitfalls.
Here are 7 fireplace mantel decor styling ideas so you can finally highlight this beautiful spot and make it the focal point it deserves.
1. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Have Symmetrical Arrangement
Opting for a classic symmetrical arrangement is the easiest and the most fool-proof way to style a fireplace mantel in a pleasing manner. All you need to do is choose a proper focal piece and flank it on both sides with a pair of objects that exactly mirror each other. You can choose a pair of candlesticks, vases (preferably taller ones) or some other pieces of decorative items, just as long as they mirror each other. Classic symmetry goes well with formal, symmetrical decors, but they will also fit in nicely (as a way of variation) inside a more casual overall scheme. It’s one of my favorite mantel decorating ideas for everyday.
You only need to keep two things in mind when choosing to go for this style of arrangement. First, the mirroring objects you choose ought to frame the focal piece and put it in relief. So, pay heed to the proper volume and height of the objects. They shouldn’t be too small (such as accent pieces), but neither should they overshadow the focal piece in any manner. Second, do not go for any variation at all when it comes to the mirroring objects (otherwise the symmetry will be broken). So, for example, if you want to add some greenery to your vases (a good idea to slightly—but only slightly—offset the symmetry and balance), make sure they are of similar volume and height on each side.
2. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Have A Focal Piece
This is arguably the one most important thing when styling your mantelpiece. Unless we are talking more radical fireplace decor ideas, most arrangements will be built around a focal piece. So, you’ll need to take your time to find the proper one for your mantel. Large mirrors and artworks are by far the most common objects chosen for a fireplace mantel. But whatever you choose, make sure that it is of right width and height. Art work must be determined by the height of your ceilings. Taller pieces are more suitable to vaulted ceilings. However, for low-ceilinged rooms, make sure there is a good distance between the ceiling and the top of the focal object. As for the width, settle for a piece which is either half or two-third (depending on your overall arrangement plan) of the length of the mantel.
3. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Mix Different Heights
Mixing heights is another neat idea for the decor above the fireplace mantel and one that is applicable to a number of different style arrangements. For example, mixing heights (as well as shapes) is key to a ‘Clustered Objects’ arrangement. However, it works just as well with more traditional focal piece based decorations. The principal is simple. Add a vertically aligned object (such as a tallish square glass vase) with a spherical one (a decorative bowl, etc.) and/or a horizontal one (a set of boxes, a brass tray, an accent driftwood). You can apply this principle to a small grouping of objects as well as for accent and larger pieces placed on either side of the focal piece.
4. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Layer Artwork
image via Room For Tuesday
This one is a more radical fireplace diy ideas. However, if you are a fan of eclectic décor and, more specifically, of juxtapositions, you will love experimenting with this concept. Also, as with other arrangement styles, you can go different routes with this one. For example, you may use a grouping of 3 (refer below) to act as the focal piece. You may use a large art piece, a small mirror and a photo frame, all of them leaning on the mantel and partially running on to each other (layering), for this type of grouping.
For a bolder design, consider layering two art pieces (one large and one mid-sized one) as the central arrangement concept. You can add a little sculptural piece or two in proper places for accent, but as long as they don’t interfere with the central layering concept.
5. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Look To Nature
Another essential concept that applies not only to fireplace mantel shelf arrangement, but pretty much all key styling spaces of a room. Flower (real or faux), plotted plants, etc. are great but don’t overlook the leaves, foliage, twigs and branches and you can find many of these at the dollar store for your decor. If you need inspiration, just google ‘Ikebana‘ (the famous Japanese art of flower arrangement) and have a look at some specimens and you need not go any further!
This type of arrangements with their organic shapes make your mantel décor more dynamic in nature since they encourage the visual movement of the eye. Moreover, these living elements add richer texture to the arrangement and also furnish you with greater scope for making changes to the arrangement so you can keep it looking fresh. On the other extreme, if you are a fan or flawless symmetry, you may also settle for some topiaries.
6. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Less Is More
Another universal principle that will serve you well for just about any area of your home, especially if you have a thing for minimalist designs. For your fireplace mantel, consider placing two abstract artworks (of uniform size and similarity in color texture, scheme and overall design) side by side to fashion a neat and a statement arrangement.
Or, you may use a somewhat smaller than usual round or oval mirror as the focal piece and a small bud vase and a piece of driftwood for accent. Explore different possibilities and with a bit of trial and error, you’ll be able to find the right balance. Minimal design is another one of my favorite fireplace mantel design ideas!
7. Fireplace Mantel Decor: Style In Groups of 3
Again, another essential principle that will stand you well for many different style arrangements. ‘Groups of 3’ is basically a variation on the ‘clustered objects’ design, only on a smaller and a more minimalist scale. Group either different objects or similar ones (such as a group of candlesticks), but make sure to mix the heights and volumes of the objects. When styling a fireplace mantel, you can use group of 3 elements to design a bolder focal piece (as discussed in section 4), or for one or both flank pieces. For the latter, just make sure there is enough variety in your fireplace decor, the choice of objects and groupings, in order to avoid the arrangement looking too predictable.
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Here are some of my favorite decorative pieces for your fireplace mantel.
I hope you enjoyed my fireplace mantel decor styling tips!