Dressing Your Mantel

Contemporary Mantelscape The mantel over your fireplace is a great place to create a focal point, display beloved items, and show your personality.  The mantel itself can hold objects of all kinds:  candlesticks, crystal, books, pottery, collections.  Little children can’t reach, so put out your favorite breakables. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can use a large shelf or even the top of a long console table to create your “mantelscape.”   Here are a few ideas to help inspire a new look for your mantel.

Asymmetrical or Symmetrical?  Symmetrical is more formal  and traditional.  The central focus is on mirror images and using pairs of objects.  To create this look, you simply start with a central object (large picture or mirror), then add items in pairs on either side until you have enough items to “fill in” the space. Symmetrical Fireplace Mantel

An assymetrical mantel grouping is less formal and more arty.  The key here is to have an approximately equal visual weight on either end of the mantel.  Visual weight doesn’t mean you have to have an equal number of items on either end, it means you have a balance or even distribution within a display.

Assymetrical Mantel


A dark-colored item has more visual weight than a light-colored one, and heavy or fat items have more visual weight than light and thin ones.   In an assymmetric grouping, you can use peaks and valleys wherever you choose.  Keep stepping back and looking to see if the visual weight looks fairly equally.  Just add or take away an item to even things out.

Use like objects of differing sizes, like crystal or wooden candlesticks of varying shapes and heights, grouped in 3s or 5s.  Or cream pottery of differing shapes and sizes.  For a more interesting display, choose 3 materials to use:  crystal, pottery, and shells, for example.   Oh, and if you choose to use a mirror, make sure it reflects something pretty – not a blank wall or the ceiling.  Use wire to tilt it slightly downward. Mantel Grouping


Assymetrical Fireplace Mantel Layer things forward and backward on the mantel.  Start with largest items, work towards smaller to add interest.  Edit, edit! Don’t overdo it.  Less is more.


You can hang items like pictures, candle sconces, and decorative plates on the wall. Hang your picture/pictures or mirror closer to mantel (approximately 6 inches) rather than centering it on the wall space. Or, you can lean a picture against the wall without nailing it. Mantel with Portrait


Decide if you want to go vertical or horizontal – if you have soaring ceilings, go vertical;  if ceiling height is more typical, go horizontal.  You want to match/extend the shape of your furniture (mantel) or wall shape.

Picture above Mantel



Have fun with your mantel.  Use unique art and flea market finds.  If  your mantelscape has been the same for the last 6 months, maybe it’s time for a change.  Go see what you can do! Rustic Mantel





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