Unleash the True Potential of Your Fireplace Mantel

Imagine walking into a living room; your gaze is instantly ensnared by a fireplace mantel adorned in a captivating balance of form and function.

It commands the room, an undeniable focal point that murmurs stories through a diverse array of artfully arranged objects. This could be the narrative of your own space, a testament to your unique style and personality.

How To Decorate A Fireplace Mantel

The fireplace mantel, often the heart of your living area, doesn’t merely house the warmth of a crackling fire. It’s a living canvas, a dynamic platform for creativity, awaiting your personal touch.

But the question is – how do you bring life to this pivotal piece of architectural artistry?

Whether it’s a carefully curated collection of books, the delicate allure of fresh blooms, or a parade of cherished photographs that capture your most beloved moments, there is a world of possibilities that lies before you.

The key is to decorate with intention, harmony, and a touch of the unexpected.

Your journey to transform your mantel from ordinary to extraordinary begins here. Delve into our comprehensive guide, brimming with invaluable advice on mantel decor’s paramount dos and don’ts.

Be prepared to unearth a trove of exciting ideas that will inspire you to reimagine the story your mantel tells. So hold onto your sense of adventure as we dive into the art of mantel decorating mastery!

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Mantel Decorating 

So, let’s jump straight in and take a look at some of the do’s and don’ts of mantel decorating.

Below, we’ve compiled some hard and fast rules that will help you create the perfect mantel decoration. 

The Do’s Of Mantel Decorating 


One of the key things that you should always aim for when creating a beautiful mantel display is to aim for symmetry. Because it’s the focal point of your room, you want the space to be even on both sides. 

You can achieve this symmetry in a number of ways. We recommend placing one key item in the center of your fireplace mantel, then two identical items on either side. This will help to create the classic, symmetrical look that you’re going for. 

Stick To The Seasons 

One of the best things about having a living space that boasts a mantel is the fact that it’s the perfect place for seasonal decorations. Whether you’re decorating for spring, summer, fall, or winter, you can utilize this space for decoration. 

Around the holidays, you can really spruce up your living space with some seasonal decorations. These don’t need to be anything elaborate, but rather, a simple garland can do wonders for your living area. 

Around Christmas time, you can match your garland to your tree, using the same decorations to accentuate both. 

Mix Things Up 

If you have a few things that you’d like to use to decorate your mantel, that’s great! One tip that we’d give you, however, is always to make sure that you’re mixing these up along the way. 

What we mean by this is that if you have two identical objects, make sure that they’re not placed directly alongside each other. Objects always look best when they’re intermingled with others.

This way, you can create a level of symmetry that isn’t too harsh. 

Pay Attention To Size

Another thing that you’ll want to pay attention to when decorating your mantel is the size of the objects you’re using.

Although this one might seem obvious, you should always aim to group larger or taller objects at the back whilst bringing the smaller objects to the front of your display. 

This allows you to display more items on your mantel without it looking overly crowded. 

Choose Carefully 

It is true that no two fireplace mantles are alike, so you’ll need to take this into account before you start decorating it. For example, a charcoal-colored mantel will look very different after it’s been decorated to a cream-colored mantel. 

You need to take the color and style of your mantel into consideration and then decorate accordingly. We’d recommend looking for some similar mantels on Pinterest for some design ideas. 

Ultimately, the style of your mantel will dictate how you’ll decorate it. 

Create Some Space

One of the worst things you can do when decorating your mantel is overcrowding it. When you put too many items on your mantel, it can begin to look cluttered, which isn’t the look we’re going for. 

If you want to create a beautiful mantel display, make sure that you’re always spacing things a few inches apart. By doing this, you’ll be able to highlight the individuality of each different object instead of them blending together into a cluttered mess. 

The Don’ts Of Mantel Decorating 

Look At Shapes Not Objects 

One thing that we’d recommend when decorating your mantel is that you take a closer look at the shapes of the objects you’re using. This is something that doesn’t occur to many of us, as we tend to think of the objects themselves rather than their shape. 

When you’re choosing items for your mantel, make sure that you’ve got a few different shapes on display. This will help it to look more interesting. 

Choose Meaningful Items 

How To Decorate A Fireplace Mantel

Another thing that we’d recommend you avoid is choosing items purely because of aesthetics. Although this is fine for a few things on your mantel, it can be nice to choose ones that have sentimental value to you too. 

Whether it’s a photo frame with your family on display, or an old jewelry box passed down by a family member, these work really well on a mantel. After all, the fireplace is known as the heart of the home, so having a few memories there can be beautiful. 

Blend With The Living Space

Although we want the mantel to be the focal point of our room, we don’t want it to be so garish that it deviates from the rest of the space. So, whilst you’re decorating your mantel, make sure that you’re paying attention to the rest of the living space too. 

It’s a good idea to choose items and objects that blend in with the colors of the space, be they from the furniture you have in there or the wallpaper. Sticking loosely to a color scheme can do wonders for your display. 


When you’re decorating your mantel, make sure that you’re sticking to a few key materials. For example, you don’t want to mix bronze, gold, and silver all in one display. Doing so can make your mantel clash in an unpleasant way. 

If you’re choosing materials for your mantle, make sure that you’re sticking to just two. This can help you to create a refined and elegant display. 

Layer Properly 

Above, one of our key ‘do’s’ was to layer your fireplace in an organized fashion. Although it’s completely fine to have several items on display on your mantle, you want to make sure that they’re layered. 

This means that if you have some items at the back of your mantel, you don’t want to completely cover them up by ones in the font. Display your items in a ‘zig zag’ fashion so that you’re still able to see everything you have there.

Don’t Neglect Your Centerpiece Display 

When it comes to our fireplace mantel, it can be really nice to have one key item on display. This should be placed at the very center of our mantel and draw the most attention to that particular area. 

We’d always recommend having a centerpiece rather than a random assortment of objects the same size throughout. 

Items To Display 

There are no limits when it comes to the items displayed on your mantel; after all, they’re symbolic of your personal taste and style. For a few ideas, take a look below. 

  • Photo Frames 
  • Candlesticks 
  • Miniatures
  • Ornaments
  • Trinket Boxes
  • Vases
  • Mirrors
  • Clocks
  • Fresh Plants Or Flowers
  • Paintings 
  • Statues
  • Plates
  • Books 

Ideas For Your Mantel Display 

How To Decorate A Fireplace Mantel

Now that we’ve taken a look at some do’s and don’ts for decorating your mantel, we can move on to look at some ideas for arrangements. Keep reading below to find some inspiration. 

The Symmetrical Display 

First of all, we’ll be taking a look at the classic symmetrical display that is popular in many homes. If you want to recreate this display in your home, you’ll need to find two identical objects that totally mirror one another to place on either end of the display. 

If you’re going for a symmetrical display, these are known for being incredibly elegant and simple. Therefore, you don’t want to use too many objects but rather create a straightforward look using a few key objects. 

Choose your centerpiece, then place two or three identical objects on either side of this. For ideas on what to use for symmetrical displays, flowers, vases, and mirrors all work really well when trying to achieve this look. 

The Clustered Display 

If you are looking for a display that isn’t quite so symmetrical and adds more character to the room, we’d recommend the clustered display.

The clustered display involves using a whole host of similar-sized objects scattered in an orderly fashion on either side of your centerpiece. 

In order to create this display, you’ll want to utilize some of the tips above. Make sure you’re layering the objects in front of each other in a ‘zig zag’ fashion. Place the slightly larger ones on the back and work your way forward. 

Make sure that you don’t overdo it, though; we want it to look clustered, not cluttered! 

For this display, some key items you could utilize include some leather bound books, candles, and ornaments or figurines. With a clustered display, it allows you to add more character to the room and show your decorative personality off. 

The Overlapping Display 

When creating this kind of mantel display, you’ll want to stick to objects that can be layered. This one doesn’t even necessarily need a centerpiece if you’re confident enough about your arrangements. 

One of the key things you’ll want to do when creating this kind of display is choosing items that vary in height and width. You also don’t want too many items when it comes to this kind of metal display, and simplicity is key. 

Some great items to use when creating an overlapping display involve photos, maps, and mirrors. Essentially objects with straight edges can be placed in front of one another. 

The Soothing Mantelpiece Display 

Another great idea for your mantel is to create a relaxing display that doesn’t pull too much attention away from the rest of the room. 

In order to create this mantel look, we’d suggest that you place a mirror at the center. This can be hung on the wall above your display. Following on from this, you can then place a vase filled with flowers as your centerpiece.

This will be reflected nicely by the mirror. 

After you’ve done this, you can choose two or three items to balance out your centerpieces, such as candles or ornaments. 

The key to creating a soothing display is to choose colors that match the room. You can choose some that coordinate with the wallpaper or the furniture. This way, your mantle will blend in nicely. 

The Statement Mantelpiece Display 

This is one of the most interesting and easy displays that you can create when it comes to your fireplace mantel. We’d recommend choosing one large piece of artwork that showcases your personality. 

Place this in the center of your mantel, leaning on the wall behind it. This will act as the focal point of the entire room. After you’ve done this, you can go ahead and choose a few key objects that are a similar color to the scheme used in your artwork. 

This helps to add texture to the art that’s on display. 

Final Thoughts 

To sum up, there are very few limits when it comes to the objects you can display on your mantel. The key is getting the organization correct so that it appears coherent throughout.

To find some inspiration for your display, take a look above to find some great styles to try, or check out our approach to modern mantels.

Stevie Morris