3 Ways to Style Your Mantle

Fireplaces are a natural focal point for whatever room they are found. When there’s no fire going, it’s the mantle that draws most of the attention. But getting it right can be tricky. Throw too many random tchotchkes up there and it starts to look like someone’s grandmother (not yours, of course) has taken residence. Here are three ways to trick out the display. Use them as firm rules, or as just a starting point for your own creativity.

A marble fireplace sits below a brown wood mantle topped with various size candles and plants.
Photo courtesy of Homesthetics

Play with Proportions

Start with a triangle in the center (or slightly off to one side), the peak being a mirror or portrait-oriented photograph. Make sure there is something with a bit of bulk on either side, such as a vase or statue. Then fill in with smaller, less weighty pieces. If you have the space, put a couple of taller items (about half as tall as your anchor) out to the far sides. For an off-center anchor, adjust the weights of the objects, moving some of the mass to the opposing side.

A white mantle sits various blue vases of yellow and green flowers of various shapes and sizes.
Photo courtesy of Avant Garden

Go With a Single Theme: Flowers

Sometimes the greatest drama comes from doing the simplest thing. In this display, a series of similar vases with similar arrangements does the heavy lifting. Vary the heights and sizes of the vases and give some of them a lift with books or wood pedestals. In this case, it’s the repetition and the abundance that’s appealing.

A white walled living room pictures a white fireplace between two big round mirrors with a large painting atop the mantle.
Photo courtesy of Living After Midnight

Explore Your Inner Artist

If you have a collection of bold paintings, color photographs, and prints—go for an all-art arrangement. Again, think of a triangle, starting out with something large as the anchor, then filling in with smaller works to the sides. Layer and fan out as space allows: just don’t block too much of the centerpiece.

Story by Stephen Treffinger

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