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How to Decorate a Mantel

Many of you know that I’m a Pinterest junkie.  From recipes to photography to gardening, anything and everything you could want to know about is on this amazing site.  Of course, for me, my #1 search is usually home decor and DIY.  The other day I stumbled upon this great pictorial on how to decorate a Mantel.  I’m sure you know the expression, a picture means a thousand words, and this image certainly says it all.  Through the words in my blog, I’m forever looking for ways to inspire you to create a haven of your own, well this is it!

original image via and via

When starting to decorate your mantel, it’s best to remove everything and begin with a fresh palette.  It allows you to see it free and clear so your creative juices start to flow.

Simple tricks to start your mantel decor

1. Center 1 big piece: Begin in the center and choose something that is of a substantial size, maybe a mirror or artwork that you love.  This will be the main focal point of the mantel and will “ground” the other accessories in front.
2. Movement: Choose items that “move” the eye.  Whether it be candles which move from the flickering flame or items of varying heights which make the eye move up and down, include accessories that are intriguing and add vision interest.
3. Visual Weight: A secondary focal point that isn’t as big, but still gives a punch, is a great addition to a mantel ensemble.  When pulling together a mantel, it’s best to layer one piece in front of another.  Choosing a vase with flowers or branches that will sit in front of your “big piece” starts the layering effect.
4. Layering: Whether it be art, photos, candles, or accessories, layering and staggering different sized items in front of each other is a must to create a cohesive composition.
5. Vary Heights: Along with layering, adding accessories of varying heights is more visually engaging.  It helps the eye move up and down and across.  Between layering and varying heights, you want to create a wave effect with your mantel.  It starts out low, then goes up, comes back down, then up again, and finishes low.

As  Steven and Chris say, these 5 tricks create a Visual Triangle.  Starting at the top most point, you have your 1 big center piece, and then each side angles down with the addition of interesting accessories, resulting in a finished triangle = a beautiful decorated mantel.

Looking at some real-life examples always help, so let’s take a peak at two of my recent mantels.

Fall Mantel – This is my most recent mantel decorated for Fall.  Similarly to the pictoral above, I “marked up” the 5 tricks to create a cohesive mantel.  Starting with the big piece in the center, a rectangular mirror, and layering different accessories at varying heights, the Visual Triangle was created.  And do you see the “mantel wave”?  There are lots of lows and highs, lows and highs.

 Summer Mantel – This second mantel design was from the summer and even though it’s simpler and less accessorized, it still uses the 5 basic principles for decorating a mantel.

What do you like to showcase on your mantel?

Summer Mantel with Frappe Accents

After many months, the warm weather FINALLY made it’s arrival and over the past few weeks, I’ve been sprucing up for summer.  One area of my home that I’ve been focusing on is making some updates to the fireplace mantel.

With a few simple switches and a couple DIY projects, it’s looking much lighter and summer-y!

Just to give you a peak at what it looked like before ~

The fireplace wall is quite the focal point in my home.  The wall is a burnt orange hue (the pictures distort the actual color a bit – – it’s not as bright in person), while the other walls in the room are cardboard brown.  The burnt orange color is continued throughout the space as an accent color, and can be seen in pillows, accessories, etc.  For the summer, I wanted to downplay the ‘orange’  and bring in a more neutral hue.  My new fav ~


I flipped the chalkboard platter so it’s now vertically positioned, and wrote the saying “Beautiful Blossoms” ~ I was just feelin’ cheery and thinking about the colorful flowers in the garden.  Then with a little frappe paint, I transformed an old green vase (that was sitting in the basement since we moved here) into a summer beauty!

What do you think of my new jars? I’m a lover of pasta and on occasion when I don’t have a chance to make sauce (or gravy as the true Italians call it), I buy jar sauce. I know, a sin, but out of convenience  it’s an easy substitute. Over the years, I’ve gone through quite alot of jars and have thrown all of them away (another sin), until now!

With my newly cleaned pasta jars, I painted the interiors with my frappe paint, filled them with flowers from the garden, and assembled them on the mantel. How pretty!

An inexpensive, but beautiful display.

On the other side of the mantel, I introduced one of my favorite TJ Maxx finds, the distressed $10 lantern ~ a must for summer.  Next to it, I lightened up the look with a framed “bloom” printable, along with two glass jars filled with a candle and potpourri.

And did you notice, I switched out the artwork for a mirror…another way to “lighten” things up! Here’s an overall view of the space ~

(FYI – my ottoman looks a lil’ sad, but it’s only because my 20 month old takes everything off and throws it on the floor.  I’m never one to leave an ottoman / coffee table bare)

I’m really loving the new fabrics on the pillows.  So refreshing!  Want to make your own Summer Pillows?  {check out this EASY-PEASY pillow tutorial}

I hope you enjoyed my little spruce up for summer!  Have you been doing any Spring / Summer updating?  I’d love to hear about it.