The traditional heart of the home, your fireplace can be a stunning centerpiece thanks to the versatility of its mantel. The mantel is the perfect perch for all your favorite pictures and pieces, ensuring they are always on display.

But with so many ways to style a mantelpiece, just where do you start? And how do you get the balance between too little and too much? The beauty of mantel displays is that you can perfectly reflect your own home style and personality, whether that’s busy and eclectic, simply classical or minimalist modern.

To help you get started, we look at 10 style hacks so you can decorate your mantel like a pro.

Know Your Style

Your home should reflect your personality and when it comes to choosing your mantel décor, it is a chance to let your own style shine through. After all, a well-dressed fireplace will be a focal point to any room, so why pass up the chance to make it as eye-catching as you can!

But before you start to update the décor round your fireplace, it is important to know your own style, whether that’s traditional, contemporary, minimalist or full-on color and clutter.

So, when it comes to how to decorate a fireplace mantel, being confident in your style choices means you will be able to use this focal point to not only make a stunning statement but also set the mood for the rest of the room.

Fireplace Mantel With Framed Pictures

Create a Default Setting For Your Mantel

Your new mantel décor doesn’t need to be set in stone, as you will want to update and refresh it depending on your mood or time of the year. But having a ‘default setting’ in its design can make your mantel décor ideas easier to update and then recreate.

Taking a little time and effort to design a core mantel look that you really love means that you will only need a few tweaks – such as a change in photograph or adding more to make it ‘maximalist’- to keep your mantel looking up-to-date and fresh all year round. And when your fancy takes you, you can then quickly switch it back to your default setting, for a familiar style that will never let you down.

Maintain a Triangle Of Movement

Another excellent mantel décor idea is to adopt the triangle method when it comes to your fireplace style. This three-step method will create a sense of movement and smooth transition as you look across the mantel by combining layers of different heights in the shape of a triangle.

To maintain this ‘triangle of movement’ you should start with your tallest decorative item in the center of the mantelpiece, then work down with layered heights in your mantel accessories as you move to the left and right. This works beautifully to create a stunning sweep which captures the eye and allows a smooth transition as you scan the rest of the room.

Keep It Symmetrical

When it comes to mantel decorating ideas 101, balance should be an essential part of your styling plan. And you can achieve a soothing balance in your above mantel décor by keeping things symmetrical. But this doesn’t mean everything needs to be in identical pairs but matching like for like, say in height, width or shape gives the design a more natural, organic feel rather than a stiff and contrived style.

Creating a balanced, natural symmetry on your mantelpiece is particularly pleasing on the eye. Simply start with a main central piece, then balance each side with matching pieces, keeping it simple and not overloaded so you don’t create awkward barriers to the flow of your mantel displays.

mantel decor

Vary Heights

For a balance flow, you should also ensure that the decorations for mantels you use are of different heights to create interest as your eyes gaze over the fireplace, rather than a flat and solid base. Using varying heights can also beautifully tie in the main focal point with the whole fireplace mantel for a more joined up and interesting design.

To help you decide what to put on a fireside mantel to create undulating height and interest, stacked books, candlesticks, vases and gorgeous plants can all help to bridge the gap with your mantel’s star piece.

Layering Is the Key

So, we’ve got the balance and height in the bag, now you need to create a gorgeous sense of depth with your mantel accessories and decorations. And key to getting this look right is not to keep them neat and in a perfect line, but be bold and go for layers, with items overlapping to get a more 3D look to your mantel design.

Layering your pieces to use the full width of a mantel is also visually the perfect solution to how to decorate above a fireplace. As you won’t always be looking straight on at your mantel, layering ensures all those photos and decorations can be seen from all angles and won’t be obscured. And choosing carefully what you place in your back layer will give you a beautifully curated background for your most precious ‘anchor’ pieces.

Try an Asymmetrical Approach

When deciding how to decorate your mantel, it can also be a fun idea to throw caution to the wind and embrace something much more asymmetrical. You can still get balance even if the layout of your mantel accessories is a little off kilter and doesn’t strictly follow the symmetrical rule. In fact, you can use this design technique to draw attention to a favorite piece of furniture in the room.

For example, you have a lovely vintage armchair to the side of the room which deserves attention. You can draw the eye across the mantle and onto your fabulous chair by placing the largest mantel accessory (say, a vase) to the side rather than the center of the fireplace, so the gaze falls onto the piece of furniture. Just make sure there’s a nod to symmetry on the other side (eg. a large group of smaller objects) otherwise the mantel can feel disproportionately overweighted.

An asymmetrical mantel design can also create a little sense of chaos in a neat or minimalist room without losing that all important balance.

Go Beyond the Mantel

When it comes to creating an impact with your fireplace, why stop with the mantel! With a little clever design, you can take your decorating beyond the mantel to make a super statement that elevates your space to something special. And it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. A pop of bold or contrasting color on the chimney breast or wall behind your mantel can really frame your fireplace. Or take inspiration from your centerpiece item on your mantel and continue that theme further across the walls. For example, a framed picture on the mantel can then be reflected in the other paintings on the wall. Or you can take a theme further, say a mirror or clock on the mantel, and build a collection that brings in the rest of the room.

Alternatively, you could use the space above and to the side of your mantelpiece for something more functional, with complementary chimney mantel ideas, including built-in cupboards or shelves to frame your mantelpiece and connect it with the rest of your room.

Christmas decorations on mantel  

Mix and Match Décor

Mix and match is a timeless design device and is one that works beautifully with mantelpieces. And it is a style you can be as brave as you want to be with and a gorgeous way to show off your unique personality! Bringing in a mix of colors, designs and scale to your mantel can either be used to contrast with the rest of your décor or add an extra layer to an already distinct design. For example, Bold, colorful pieces can make a neutral room pop while different textures, heights and sizes will create a sense of depth, warmth, and interest to a strong and contemporary interior design.

Mantels Through The Seasons

From a declutter in the spring to enable you to create a more nature-inspired display to getting the whole family involved in the tradition of winter mantel decorating, your mantel design can evolve and change to reflect the world around you. Working from your default mantel piece design setting, taking inspiration from the changing seasons can also be a wonderful way to keep your room fresh and interesting – and a joy to spend time in – without having to undergo any drastic redesign.

And using just a few simple hacks can enable you to always have a stunning centerpiece to your home space and the pleasure you will get from decorating your mantle like a pro!