Interior Design: How to Style and Decorate Your Fireplace Mantle

fireplace mantel

Home is where the hearth is.

If you’ve never paid much attention to the decorative potential of your fireplace mantel, now is the time to start. This area should be a focal point for designing the home, as it’s where you and your guests will probably be spending a lot of time.

Stay with us as we walk you through how professional designers approach decorating a mantel.

1. Keep In Mind Your Style

Are you all about mid-century modern? Baroque? Are you eclectic and only comfortable when you’re combining all styles together in a decorative free-for-all?

The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is your personal style preference. If you love mid-century modern, you probably don’t want to be taking all the recommendations that will have your mantel area looking Edwardian.

Before getting started on this project, take a moment to sit down by yourself or with your designer to discuss your objectives. Save some inspirational pictures, or dog-ear some interior design magazines. This is where you’ll start.

2. Know the Types of Fireplaces

There are a few types of fireplaces. Which one do you have, or which one will you be installing?

Depending on which style of fireplace you have, your mantel may look different. It may be recessed and modern, without a lot of storage space, or it may look more traditional and functional if it burns real wood.

Wood Fireplaces

Traditional wood-burning fireplaces give warmth, charm, and nostalgia, as do wood fireplace mantels. These classic fireplaces use wood to provide the unrivaled multi-sensory experience of a crackling fire with that distinct, smokey fragrance.

Owners of wood fireplaces may need to engage a professional chimney sweep to remove dangerous creosote accumulation, which may be a fire hazard.

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces are less harmful to the environment than wood-burning fireplaces and may heat a home more effectively while delivering the atmosphere of a real flame.

One disadvantage is that this fireplace requires a gas hookup.

Electric Fireplaces

To recreate the look of a classic fireplace, this kind employs coils and a fan to transfer heat and frequently includes a flickering, digitally manufactured flame.

The flame ignites with the flip of a switch—no need for kindling.

These often accompany more modern fireplace mantels.

3. Determine Your Anchor

We don’t want the area to look too busy, but we don’t want it to look empty, either.

This is where professional designers would look to design around an anchor. We intend this to be the primary place the eye is drawn to.

This can be many things; a TV that looks like an art piece, a beautiful Japanese flower arrangement you created from a recent class, or figurines from your hobbies.

Once you’ve got your anchor in place, you can build out from there and look for decorative flourishes that are in theme.

4. Decorate a Fireplace Mantel Slowly

There’s no need to bang out an entire decorative fireplace mantel setup all in one day.

Convenience might be a fallacy here; don’t go for cheap materials and decorations that… look cheap.

It’s fine to slowly curate decorations or the fireplace area as a whole. As mentioned before, the fireplace is an area where you’ll probably be spending time with loved ones. Decorate it with items that mean something to you, rather than trending items on Amazon that will fall apart after one year.


This is another design technique to add more richness and depth to an area. If you find that your anchor is drawing too much attention, add some small details in front of it.

This can be anything from meaningful framed pictures to small souvenirs. You won’t see these things in professional design magazines, but they’re lovely additions to anyone’s home and conversation starters for guests.

You’re probably going to be staring at your fireplace every day, so you may as well look at something that makes you happy!

5. Embrace Greenery

Neuroimaging shows that looking at greenery is important to humans’ physiological well-being.

It’s great for your mental health and even your physical health.

We don’t want to be pushy with how you do it, but we’re here to encourage you to incorporate some green into your space. Not all of us are plant people, and we get that.

Reserve some of your cutest plants for shelving nearby, or simply place them on top of your mantel. We’ve also seen people do wonders with garlands of eucalyptus, which also release a soothing scent.

Even fake plants will do. The color green adds vibrancy and life to an area that otherwise may seem lifeless and dull.

6. Formality or Hominess

Here’s where you come to a crossroads.

If you’re going for a more formal and polished look, you’ll want to pay special attention to the principles of symmetry. Maybe don’t have too much height variation from left to right.

Don’t crowd the mantel area, and keep things minimal but tasteful.

If you’re just concerned about making the place look homey, then anything goes! The quirkier, the better. It seems everyone has a Diptyque candle these days, so why not look for something more unique?

For both of these styles, our favorite tip is to take advantage of vertical space.

7. Vertical and 3D Space

Your fireplace mantel decor doesn’t have to be horizontal clutter. Consider framing the mantel with arresting, tall bookshelves. Hang plants from the ceiling.

Consider doing more with 3D space too, not just the wall and mantel area but the area right in front of the fireplace. Your choice of furniture does actually determine how your mantel looks as a whole.

Choosing a quirky rug and designer armchairs to place near the mantel could bring the whole area together.

Follow For More Fireplace Guides

When decorating a fireplace mantel, slow and steady are key principles. Fill the area with items that mean something to you, and your guests will surely appreciate your thoughtful decorative eye. Also, make sure to take advantage of the space around the mantel, both vertically and extending outward.

If you’re in the market for a high-quality marketplace, feel free to browse our selection of products.

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