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Fireplaces are beautiful all on their own, whether it’s due to traditional millwork or a strikingly modern, marble design. Fireplace mantel decor can take the design to the next level! We are all about getting creative — but be careful not to create a space that feels busy or cluttered. Use an eye-catching statement piece, and surround it with decorative items like books, vases, and candlesticks. If you’re looking to learn more about how to decorate a fireplace mantel, see some of our tips below — including how to display wall art above the fireplace and how to hang a mirror over the mantel.

Design by Form + Field | Photo by R. Bradley Knipstein

All About Artwork

When decorating any chic interior, artwork is what it’s all about. No matter your design style, use fireplace artwork to bring your space to the level — from vintage photographs to modern graphics. “Art is such a personal choice that it can instantly give a space character,” says Christine Lin, principal of Form + Field. “Most fireplaces on their own can be nondescript or fairly generic, falling into one of a dozen categories, so the art helps add personality to that fireplace and the room around it.” 

While hanging artwork over the fireplace is a beautiful (and popular) choice, you can also layer small paintings, framed photos, or other artwork by leaning the pieces against the wall on the mantel.  

Design by Coddington Design | Photo by Vivian Johnson

Make it Personal

Fireplace mantel decor should reflect you or your client’s lifestyle. Don’t fear a minimalist look. “If you don’t love having decorative objects on every surface, then by no means should you feel obligated to fill that mantel,” says Lin. If you do love decor (as we do!), find creative ways to make it personal. Use meaningful art and accessories, or place family pictures over the fireplace.

“Less is Best.”

A common design mistake is that art or accessories must be as large as the fireplace mantel itself. When it comes to fireplace mantel decor, pay attention to scale. “Less is best,” according to Penny Francis — principal designer and owner of Eclectic Home. “Be careful not to over-decorate.” 

As much as we obsess over fireplace mantel decor, we know that too many elements can appear cluttered. Establish a focal point, whether it’s a statement mirror or beautiful artwork. The statement piece should complement the architecture of the fireplace, without drawing away from its detail. “Allow one piece to take the center stage, while the rest of the accessories hold less weight,” says interior designer Maria Haidamus.

Design by Eclectic Home | Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

Play with Height

Use a statement piece — like a mirror or wall decor above a fireplace — to ground the space. Layer both tall and short elements — like tall sculptures or ceramics and smaller bowls or books. Mix and match decorative pieces of different shapes and sizes — like books, candlesticks, and vases. 

And, don’t worry about creating a symmetric design. “Think asymmetry!” says Francis. “It’s ok if you don’t have a pair. Having one statement piece or an odd number creates a wonderful composition and statement.” Use a collection of antique books on one side of the mantel and a glass vase with faux flowers on the other. An asymmetric design will create intrigue and visual interest, so feel free to get creative. 

Design by Staprans Design| Design by R. Brad Knipstein Photography

It’s About Time

Get creative with clocks, whether it’s to serve a practical function or simply used for decor — or both! Choose from rustic and contemporary styles to create a funky space or a sophisticated interior. Use a small, antique clock to add a playful touch or a large, metal clock to bring elegance and sophistication to a room. A small clock above the fireplace will mesh well with other decorative pieces on a mantel, while a large clock is the perfect statement piece.

Design by Maria Haidamus Interiors | Photo by Benoit Delaveau

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Create a design that oozes drama — whether it’s with a collection of small mirrors around the mantel or a single, large mirror over the fireplace. Mirrors are a great way to create a dramatic look, and add light and depth to a space. “Mirrors always make the room feel larger,” says Haidamus. “I usually use them in smaller spaces, and I always make sure that the image in the reflection is beautiful.” Situate a mirror over the fireplace so colorful artwork or a bold lighting fixture is reflected in the mirror. 

Design by Lark + Palm | Photo by Casey Doran

Light it Up

Brighten up any space and create visual interest when you place lighting above the fireplace. Use a pair of sconces to create a symmetric design or place a gallery light above a painting to illuminate the area. “Lighting can be the accessory that brings the entire vignette to life,” says Stephanie Waskins, co-founder of LARK + PALM

March 20, 2020

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