Decorating your fireplace mantel is not difficult, but can stump even the savviest of homeowners. Your fireplace is an architectural focal piece and should be the “wow” when your guests walk into the room. Here are some tips to create a gorgeous fireplace mantel:

First things first. Prepare the fireplace.

  • First, remove everything from the mantel and hearth. You want to begin with a clean slate (pun intended).
  • Clean all surfaces including the inside of the fireplace.
  • Take a good look at all of the surfaces. Do you hate the brick? Consider painting it (treatments such a white wash and German schmear are very popular these days). How about the mantel? Replacing the mantel can make a huge impact in your fireplaces appearance, or painting stained wood can bring a needed change. Check out Pinterest for ideas of creative mantels materials and finishes.

Time to Decorate!

  • Forget symmetry. The days of alternating candlesticks and other tchotchkes across the span of the mantel are in the past. Decorate from the center out.
  • Think of the décor as a “grouping”, not a single piece. The “grouping will be centered, but the individual pieces will not.
  • Choose décor items of different sizes and shapes.
    • Be mindful of your background material and color. If it is dark brick you will want light, reflective items that will provide contrast. If light you will want the opposite.
    • A large focal piece that takes up approximately one-half to two-thirds of the mantel width is a great starting place. This can be a picture, mirror (check to see what it reflects) window pane, wreath, or other decorative item. Don’t be afraid to go tall or to lean items instead of hanging them. The focal image does not necessarily have to be centered as long as the grouping is.
    • Arrange items with different heights on either side of the main focal piece. Stagger the heights to create high and low points.
    • Try using complementing colors and textures. Mixing in a little metal or reflective glass brings delightful dimension.
    • Are you a collector? Mantels are a great place to display collections. Try grouping several items of the same color together.

Decorating Don’ts:

  • Don’t be afraid of using large pieces.
  • You do not need to decorate all the way to the ends. Less is more.
  • You do not need to decorate the hearth. Too many items can be distracting and the focus is lost.
  • Don’t feel that you decorate it once and it needs to stay that way forever. Change your mantel up seasonally or when the mood strikes.
  • Guard against using too many small pieces. They get lost and do not provide impact.
  • Choose another place for family photos. Try to create other gallery areas in your home such as bookcases or hanging on walls.

One last note. Large televisions can be a challenge, distracting from a fireplace’s deserved prominence. If there is a television in the room try your best to place it on a different wall than the fireplace wall. They compete when sharing a common wall and neither ends up looking very good.

We suggest trying out a look for three days. If you don’t LOVE it, do some tweaking or start again. Taking photos can help you recreate the look after cleaning and holiday decorating.

Happy Decorating!