Fireplace Mantel Decor Ideas

A fireplace mantel, for the real thing or a faux design, offers prime real estate for decorating. While simply arranging a few decorative accents on this handy surface is perfectly fine, styling your fireplace mantel like an interior design expert is a quick and easy way to elevate the look of your space.


When deciding how to decorate your fireplace mantel, paying attention to small and big-picture details like lines, textures and shapes transforms a random assortment of knickknacks into an inspired design choice. A few tips and tricks are all you need to create a curated look for your mantlepiece.

Before You Begin

While organizing your fireplace mantel decor, keep two general guidelines in mind. First, avoid overcrowding the space. Styling a fireplace mantel, like decorating a bookcase or windowsill, involves working within space limitations. Too many objects may seem cluttered rather than chic, and fragile items may fall and break if you overdo it.


The second rule of thumb is to keep your design season-friendly, so you can change things up for different holidays. Fixing mirrors or paintings to the wall above the mantlepiece permanently may limit your options later. However, if seasonal mantel decor isn't your style, or if you need space for your flatscreen, mounting items safely is a fine idea.

white electric fireplace

Go Back to Basics

You don't need much to create a lovely fireplace mantel display if you select items that work well with your decor. A tall table lamp at one end, a color-coordinated glazed ceramic bowl and a small stack of books at the opposite end offer shape, texture and color that draw attention when placed at eye level. Choose three simple pieces that align with the following concepts:


  • Shape: Contrast the lines and angles of your fireplace and mantel by choosing at least one round or curved object. If your hearth features irregular stonework, go for items with clean straight lines instead.
  • Color: Select mantlepiece decor that coordinates with your room's palette. Or, try a vibrant yellow accent to highlight your fireplace mantel among neutral beige, white or gray furnishings.
  • Texture: In rooms with hardwood floors or table sets with an oak or cherry finish, consider light or dark wood accents to enhance the vibe. Alternatively, angular metal decor is a visual treat in rooms filled with plush chenille or velvet seating.

gray electric fireplace

Embrace Vertical Virtues

While the surface may be long and narrow, most fireplace mantels offer ample vertical space for you to work with. Take advantage of this empty surface with a lofty sculpture, dried floral arrangements in tall vases or tapered candles set in a vintage candelabra. Planning to mount your TV above the mantel? Opt for low-profile accents to fill the space below your flatscreen without blocking your view.


Make It a Double, or Even a Triple

Framed photographs or paintings make lovely companions for a mantlepiece, but what about a pair? Styling your fireplace mantel with a set of two pieces from the same artist or contemporary abstract wall decor with similar color schemes deliver serious visual impact. Selecting similar objects in groups of two or three is a simple method for curating a chic yet thoughtful design.

white electric fireplace

Dress It in Layers

Layering is a chic decor tactic that adds depth without overcrowding or clutter. Keep your accent layout interesting by placing an oversized modern print behind smaller framed photos or set a few small sculptures in front of a wide canvas. Avoid obscuring the subject of your artwork and keep fragile pieces well away from the mantel's leading edge.


The layering technique also makes arranging family photos on your mantel practically effortless. Start by placing 8x10 or larger frames in the back, overlapping the corners and borders with smaller images. Place the kids' school pictures and pet snapshots at the front of your display, and then take a few steps back to ensure you have a clear view of all your loved ones.


Mix and Match

For more eclectic decor styles, or whenever you want to shake things up, arrange a tableau that generates interest through differences in form, texture or structure. Mix visually heavy accents with slim items, bold hues with pastels or geometric lines or patterns alongside organic curves to create a one-of-a-kind look. To keep your design cohesive, look for items that share a subtle hue, detail or theme.

image of bold accent pieces on mantel

Reflections and Timekeeping

When deciding how to decorate a fireplace mantel with a mirror, you have several options. A large mirror mounted to the wall reflects light, making small rooms seem larger. Meanwhile, a round mirror set above the angled lines of a fireplace creates an interesting contrast. To avoid a permanent fix, leaning an antique brass mirror on the mantel offers a chic yet carefree vibe.


Decorative clocks are another attractive, practical choice when styling a fireplace mantel. Metal analog clocks surrounded by modern wall decor boosts mid-century-inspired living rooms, while wooden clocks make the most of a homey fireplace mantel surrounded by traditional seating.


Go Green

Whether your decor style is rustic or contemporary, plants and silk foliage work with every layout. Trailing vines and ferns feel right at home on a faux fireplace mantel, while realistic replicas liven up a functional hearth. A vase of fresh-cut blooms on your mantlepiece makes a lovely spring display, or you can add a gorgeous bouquet whenever the mood strikes to add a little joy and color to your look.

fireplace with clock on top

Warm Up a Cold Hearth

Beyond styling your fireplace mantel with pillar candles or a set of table lamps, consider wall sconces to light up your decor. Perfect for highlighting artwork, creating symmetry or adding extra lighting, dimmable sconces help set the mood without taking up room on table surfaces or floors in small, cozy spaces.

espresso console with fireplace and lighting

Fireplace Mantel Style Tips

If your display feels slightly off or unbalanced, or if you're having trouble figuring out how to decorate a deep corner fireplace mantel, troubleshoot your design with the following tips:


  • Follow Your Style: Collecting display items is fun, but if you're not careful, some pieces may throw off your design. Scan the mantel and the room itself and focus on the details. Small touches like classic candleholders or traditional picture frames in a modern setting, could seem off-kilter. Swapping frames or choosing different pieces is an easy fix.
  • Create Cohesion: Even in a mix-and-match design, collecting objects at random can defeat your goal. A common theme, pattern or color creates a connection among unrelated items.
  • Corner Fireplace Mantels: Styling the deep-set mantelpiece of a corner hearth can be challenging. Installing floating shelves can take your decor game to a whole new level, or you can use the corner as a place of honor for larger sculptures or oversized canvas paintings.
  • Limit Materials: While different textures can boost your fireplace mantel decor, avoid overdoing it. Combining gold, brass and silver finishes, with glass, wood and ceramics can turn a display into a distraction. Opt for two or three materials at most for your mantelpiece.
  • Symmetry: Flanking your mantle with a pair of identical lamps or accents is a classic look, but this approach may feel dated in contemporary or modern rooms. To balance your mantel display, consider different objects with similar heights, like a sculpture and a vase, rather than a matched set.

corner fireplace

Mastering Mantlepiece Decor

Whether you stick to the basics or opt for a more eclectic approach, styling your fireplace mantel is a wonderful way to highlight your hearth, display your design savvy and refresh your room decor. Use the tips and tricks in this guide and the others listed below to create beautiful living spaces for your family and guests.


In This Guide:

  1. Details vs. Big Picture
  2. Styling a Bookshelf
  3. Lighting Tips
  4. Decorating a Window Sill
  5. How to Decorate a Fireplace
  6. How to Decorate a Fireplace Mantel
  7. How to Decorate a Stairway
  8. How to Decorate a Hallway
  9. How to Decorate a Table
  10. How to Decorate a Desk
  11. How to Decorate a Patio
  12. How to Decorate Living Room Walls
  13. How to Decorate a Two-Story Wall
  14. How to Decorate a TV Stand
  15. How to Decorate a Foyer
  16. How to Decorate a Nightstand

white fireplace