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How to Decorate a Mantel: 9 Tips for Chic Everyday Style

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Does the thought of styling your mantel leave you stumped? Learn how to decorate a mantel like a pro with my top 9 mantel decor styling tips as well as my top 3 styling mistakes to avoid.

Too bare…too cluttered…too staged. For those who don’t feel stylistically-inclined, styling a mantel can be a daunting struggle and end with a design that never feels (or looks) quite right.

I personally love styling our mantel – as the focal point of the room, it’s the first thing I’ll update with the change of each season. But I know many people who just want to know how to create an everyday mantel style so that they can forget about it but still enjoy looking at it.

With that in mind, I decided that it was high time that I pull together some tips for everyday mantel decor to help you feel more comfortable with your mantel design – no matter what time of year it is.

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How to Decorate a Mantel for Any Season Like a Pro: 9 Top Tips

Not everyone can have the eye of a designer! For anyone who feels design-challenged, here are my top 9 tips for creating an everyday mantel design that looks like you paid a professional to do it.

1. Anchor Piece

An anchor piece is usually a large framed image or a mirror that is used as a focal point. I think a good way to begin decorating your farmhouse mantel is to start with the focal point piece. This is something that can stay the same all year long (like a mirror) or can be changed each season.

Bonus: if your mantel is in a small or a dark room, using a large mirror as your focal piece can help to brighten the room and make it feel bigger.

2. Add Varying Levels of Height

Candlesticks, tall vases of flowers, faux plants, and stacked books are all elements that can add height and visual interest as they help to bridge the height differences between the anchor piece and shorter elements. 

Using a variety of heights in your other objects to tie together the focal point with the rest of the mantel for a cohesive design that uses height to its advantage.

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3. Add a Living Element

Include a plant (real or artificial) in your fireplace mantel design. This adds movement and life to your mantel.

4. Balanced Asymmetry

I believe the eye is drawn to symmetry. However, fireplace mantel symmetry that’s too perfect can look staged and fake rather than comfortably lived in.

The key here is to achieve “balance” with asymmetry. Let go of needing to match everything on either side of your mantel and strive for balance with non-matching items. A group of on one side of the mantel ban balance out one larger, heavier piece on the other side.

For example, you may have a large vase on one side and a cluster of candlesticks on the other side.

5. Create Layers

I personally prefer to have a large focal point flanked by a few slightly smaller pieces. Then I like to round everything out by layering in other items like:

  • Artwork
  • Children’s art pieces or sculptures
  • Family photos
  • Personal trinkets

As you layer in items, keep the taller items to the back and bring the smaller items forward.

6. How to Decorate a Mantel Using The Rule of Threes 

I recommend using the Rule of Threes, which means to use odd-numbered items and is more visually appealing than even numbers. Using the Rule of Threes creates a more relaxed and laid-back vibe.

Pro Tip: This doesn’t just work on mantels – it works everywhere! Try it and you’ll see. ?

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7. Keep Space Between Objects

There’s a fine line between a well-styled mantel and an overcrowded one. Avoid adding so much to your mantle that it looks cluttered. You want to be able to maintain space between objects so they all have a little breathing room and don’t get lost in the chaos.

8. Bigger is Better

Adding in one or two small-ish objects is fine to help achieve that layering effect. Relying on small objects for your mantel design will result in a messy, cluttered-looking mantel. Plus, each item will lose its individuality and get lost in the crowd. 

Bigger is better when it comes to everyday mantel decor.

9. Use Clusters Rather Than Lines 

A mantel design that has lines of objects looks stiff and staged rather than comfortably lived-in.

Instead, cluster items together. I like to think of placing them in a wide triangle. Think of candles, for example: lining up 3 candles in a straight line just looks too staged. However, having the tallest candle in the back with 2 shorter ones towards the front in a triangle configuration looks much more relaxed and beautiful.

Use these 9 tips for how to decorate a mantel to achieve the beautiful everyday mantel design you crave!

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