Best Decorating Ideas for a Mantel

Spaces above the fireplace are usually one of the hardest places to decorate, which is why we’d like to share our best decorating ideas for a mantel. These do-it-yourself suggestions are not only ideal for any decorating style but they are also inexpensive to create. Clear of your mantel and use one of the ideas below to set up a space you can be proud of.

Tips to Consider Before Decorating Your Mantel

Start with a cleared space.

When you are decorating a mantel or shelf in your home, start with a clean slate. Think of yourself as an artist that is painting a picture. If your mantel already has objects displayed, take them down. Although you may have an idea of what you want the final presentation to look like, you don’t want to have to go back and forth with moving things around. 

Begin decorating with the background of your mantel space.

If the home decorations you want to display are similar in size, you will want to create levels that will add interest to your objects. This can be accomplished in several ways. You can go for stacked decoupage boxes or paint paper craft boxes yourself with a dark color of paint and use a coat of crackle finish. Antique wire egg baskets can also be a fun country addition.

Even stacking old leather-bound books can create a beautiful traditional country look or stack gardening books to create levels in a greenhouse or patio room.

Move to the forefront of your mantel.

Choose decorative items that mean something to you or that follow a color theme used in other parts of your home. This can include scents and sights as well. A scented candle in a tin sconce is an easy way to bring warmth to your display but if you plan on lighting your candles space them a safe distance away from your walls, old books, or fabric. Choose objects that offer special meaning to you or represent your hobbies. A garden buff might display objects that include topiaries, grapevine spriggs, trailing plants, or picture frames

Best Decorating Ideas for a Mantel

Antique and Contemporary

It’s a good idea to alternate traditional and contemporary items. Also, stick to similar colors. For instance, you might place an oversized silver frame next to a smaller antique frame in gunmetal grey. If you like the look of one frame in front of another, choose similar finishes or colors to tie them together.

The Candlesticks or Candelabra Effect

Place one long slim-taper at each end of your mantel place. Whenever you leave a lot of space in between two items, you achieve the illusion of space. You might want to place a simple urn in the middle, or a stunning bouquet. Or rather than using candlesticks, you might try looking for a mini candelabra.

This looks great with a wood mantel that’s been given a “dusty” look via a pickling stain. To reflect the walls opposite and add authentic antique glamour, place a mirror with an archaic-looking frame against the wall, in the middle – directly behind the candelabra. 

The “Three Plus One” Effect

Many designers like the placement of three like-sized objects on one end of a mantel and on the other end, a single object which is taller than those three pieces. These items can be perfectly contrasted in style and color but should echo each other in some form.

If you have hung a mirror or painting or tapestry on the wall above your mantel, or if you’ve placed an item against the wall, this “one” item should not be taller than the top edge of this object. This decorating tip works well with seasonal displays, too.

Books as Props or Stands

Select a few narrow hardcover books with almost-new spines. Place one or two with spines facing towards you, on their sides. It will seem as if you’ve just put down a book after skimming it and will make for a wonderful conversation piece.

Genuinely Rusty Pieces

Some people place an iron gate or an old urn atop their mantel. The rusted parts should not be cleaned up; they should be left au naturel! The mantel finish should be protected, of course. Perhaps you can use a see-through runner. If you can’t find one that’s the right size, get a see-through bath mat and, using pruning scissors, cut it to the desired size.

One Solid Piece

If you are a minimalist at heart, find a truly imposing statue or figurine that “calls” to you. This may be a bronze replica of a man on a horse or the glass figure of a mother and child. Leave the rest of the mantel place completely bare. Its smooth finish will speak for itself!

Final Thoughts

You will want your display to look balanced and not cluttered so it is a good idea to add objects slowly and take time to stand back and get a feel for the overall look to make sure you have created that warm inviting feeling that decorating is so popular for. Don’t hesitate to change things up with the season and go for eclectic looks!

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