Tips on Decorating the Fireplace Mantel

Even when not in use, a fireplace is a natural focal point in a room that can’t be ignored. Decorating the fireplace mantel is a wonderful place to incorporate your room’s overall design scheme. Determining what décor is going to be showcased and how is often a challenge for many homeowners. Here are a few tips to help you determine what look is right for your space.

The first step is to select décor that will convey the kind of feeling you want the room to have – formal, casual, clean lines/minimalist or eclectic/busy. You will need to work with the fireplace’s existing architecture and decide if you’d like to enhance it or subdue it. Another important consideration when decorating a fireplace mantel is to keep the design balanced and proportional.

Symmetrical design is the most popular way to decorate a fireplace mantel. Formal rooms typically follow symmetry when arranging mantel décor, but it works in a more casual setting as well. In this master bedroom above, the fireplace mantel by Norman Davenport Askins is symmetrically decorated with British 19th century botanical prints centered on the wall and antique Chinese vases on either side.

Symmetry is easy on the eye and conveys a sense of calm throughout this formal living room designed by Dana Lyon. The fireplace mantel is also symmetrically designed with original artwork flanked by candlesticks.

Dallas, Texas-based designer Shannon Bowers created a gorgeous living room in a neutral palette collection of European furnishings and accessories. The Louis XV inspired limestone mantel is also decorated symmetrically. The large mirror is in perfect proportion and nicely balanced by vases of fresh pink roses.


An asymmetrical layout is another way to arrange your mantel. It conveys a less formal and more rigid feeling, yet still requires balance to achieve an aesthetic design. Objects on both sides of the mantel can vary, but should still be proportional – in the center you may have a mirror with a set of smaller candlesticks on one side and a single taller vase on the other.


The fireplace mantel (above) in this Normandy-style house in Atlanta decorated by Suzanne Kasler demonstrates an asymmetrical design. A dreamy mixed-media work on wood and Plexiglas by Dusty Griffith is centered over the fireplace and is flanked by a tall candlestick and smaller crystal figurines. The powder blue pair of 19th-century painted bergères in the Louis XVI style are divine and further emphasizes the room’s fireplace focal point.


Designed by Stephen Shubel, this living room’s fireplace mantel is also asymmetrical. Gorgeous 19th-century girandoles sit on either side of the mirror by Two’s Company. Alone these items would be symmetrical, however Shubel brilliantly adds a pair of seashells on one side and a small bird figurine on the other. On another note, the walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Bridal Pink and perfectly balanced by the deep browns in the room. I particularly like the Hanna chairs in leather flank from Oly.


Another option is to create an eclectic mantel by displaying décor of varying size. If this is the look you are trying to achieve, it is still important to arrange the objects to ensure it has balance and flow.

In this contemporary sitting room designed by Eric Cohler, the mantel decor is busy, but inviting. It showcases an eclectic mix of art and photography in various sizes and frames. The small sculpture centered on the mantle is a critical element that balances out the frames. This busy style works here because the room already has lots of visual activity throughout, like the Han dynasty figurines atop the gilded bookshelves. Cohler also brings some old world charm by adding an antique English fireplace grate. I must say, the macassar ebony klismos-style chair by Hinson & Company is fabulous!

This mantel in this casual living room designed by Cristine Gillespie is also eclectic. The 1930s Eiffel Tower model on the mantel is from Indigo Seas. Gillespie and her sons made the small silver one from an Erector set and magnets.

Some fireplaces may have little or no mantel. This is most common in contemporary design. If you do not have a mantel simply hang art or a mirror centered above the fireplace to draw your eye up. However, you may decide to keep the space bare especially if you have a stunning stone fireplace that you don’t want to detract from. In either instance keeping the mantel decor minimalistic will convey a sense of calm and order.
In the contemporary living room by Shirley Parks Design (above), artwork was hung off center and a pair of simple white vases were added to balance out the look.
Before hanging artwork or mirrors above your mantel, it is best if you play around with different designs to find what arrangement works best for you and your room. Have fun with it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

, , , ,

32 Responses to Tips on Decorating the Fireplace Mantel