The fireplace mantel is the jewelry box of the house. Hear us out: Like a jewelry box, the mantel holds prized possessions and coveted family heirlooms. Most mantel decor ideas include displaying all your best trinkets and treasures like a mini personalized museum. The mantelpiece is often the focal point of an abode’s living room or dining room, making it the ideal landing spot for all your showpieces. Typical mantelpiece main characters include large works of art, family portraits, cherished glass vases, or other rare and beautiful objects worthy of a starring role in a room’s decor scheme.
But because styling such a prime location can be a bit overwhelming, we’ve rounded up 11 mantel decor ideas for creating visually pleasing mantelpiece displays—including the best bits of home decor advice from experts—to make the jewelry box of your home truly shine.
What decorations to put on the mantel?
There are so many factors at play in considering what decorations to put on the mantel. The size of your mantelpiece, the design style of the rest of the room, and whether or not you use the mantel for burning incense or candles are all considerations when decorating a fireplace mantel.
Tara McCauley, an interior designer based in New York, encourages going big with a large piece of mantel decor. “Mantels are an underrated place to display sculptures or objects that can’t be hung directly on the wall,” she says. “At the Brooklyn Heights Designer Showhouse, I displayed a pair of contemporary metal sculptures by the artist Gunnar Theel atop the very traditional marble mantel in the primary bedroom.”
On the other hand, a single standalone item is all you might need to create visual interest. A professional family portrait, for example, might do the trick. If the design of your mantel is eye-catching already, displaying fewer items is best.
How do you style a modern mantel?
This all depends on whom you talk to. For modern farmhouse–style shiplap mantels, go for French topiaries or more pastoral pieces from the Magnolia brand by documented shiplap superfans, Chip and Joanna Gaines. But for many, the key to modern styling is choosing minimalist designs. Here, the idea is to pare the mantel down rather than overwhelm it with too many accessories. To get a streamlined look, choose one or two simple yet standout pieces to set the mood. “I always associate a pair of candlesticks with some ivory tapers with warmth and coziness—preferably melted down a bit, so that they don’t look fresh from the store,” says McCauley. The warm glow from a candle can be enough to achieve a simple, modern look with a touch of romance.
How can I decorate my mantel?
Start small, and then layer on your favorite pieces into a vignette or two. Krysten Ledet, owner and principal designer of Krysten Ledet Interiors, prefers layering to mix and match. “I am a fan of asymmetry for mantels,” she says. “I always gravitate towards a few items: family photos in one-of-a-kind frames, a funky mirror or piece of art, candlesticks, and a vessel with natural florals.” Once she gets all the right standout items, she plays around with their placement to find the best balance to complement the room. Ledet adds, “The best part is that these items are easy to change and mix to keep your mantel evolving and relative to your personal life and taste.” Now that you’ve got the gist of decorating a mantel, read on for 11 ideas mantel decor ideas.
1. Pair large and small items to create a sense of balance