You don't have to watch too many home decorating shows to know that the fireplace is the focal point of a room. Since all eyes will automatically be drawn to this premier gallery space, your fireplace mantel decor gives you an amazing opportunity to showcase your flair for interior design and express your aesthetic personality. But if you mess up, everyone will notice. Here are a few fireplace mantel decorating ideas for guaranteed professional results.
Repetition is Good For Fireplace Mantel Decor
The key to decorating a mantel is repetition. When you find a vase you love, buy two. Use all matching frames for a collage of black and white photos. Or repeat a certain element for a cohesive theme, such as color, texture, or shape.
Symmetry Versus Asymmetry In Design
Anyone can learn how to decorate a mantel by observing the basic design rules of balance and proportion. Novices should start with a foolproof symmetrical display. Center a mirror or framed piece of artwork over your fireplace (hang it on the wall or simply prop it up), then add matching vases, candles, plants, or knick-knacks on either end of the mantel.
If you're feeling empowered, consider trying a modern, eclectic, full-fledged asymmetrical display. The challenge is to maintain harmony without the mirror image to guide you. To start, get three coordinating pieces of art that are different sizes and put them in matching frames, then layer them for a unified look.
Let the "Three Plus One" rule guide your dabbling in asymmetrical design. Select three different small objects (not too small - mantels swallow up dinky accessories) and group them together on one end. At the other end, find one object that is tall or has the visual mass of the other three combined. All the objects should be somehow related - all yellow, say, or made from glass.
How To Layer Your Fireplace Mantel Decor
If your personality and your room's style trend more toward the ebullient side, feel free to cover your mantel with doodads. The key to this method is "layering." Place taller items in the back, smaller in the front. If all of your items are small, use stands or boxes to elevate a few for the back row - just like risers in group pictures. Layering makes your display look cozy, united, and casual.
Avoid layering your fireplace decorations to create a formal or modern look. Select only a precious few items to display on your mantel, and give each one its own space. A sparse row of votive candles would look quite daring. To take this minimalist idea to the extreme, paint the wall of your fireplace a bold accent color and hang a single mirror or art piece - leaving nothing else. The rest of your room's decor should be Spartan to match.
Collection Displays On Mantels
Quell the rumors of your hoarding tendencies by displaying your treasures as a coherent collection of fireplace mantel decorations. Group items in your collection by style, size, color, or some other characteristic, then treat each group as a larger unit with some cleansing "white space" in between. You may have to pick a few of your favorites, though, so your mantel doesn't seem cluttered. If you have a large collection, rotate items from storage to mantel for a fresh look, rather than piling everything on at once in one overwhelming jumble.
Mirrors As Mantel Accents
A mirror is the default choice for mantel decor. Since fires provide light, the thought is to intensify the effect with a large, reflective mirror. Unlike the functional mirror over your bathroom vanity, mantel mirrors are purely decorative, giving you a lot of leeway in design choice. At the very least, find a mirror with a flashy frame. Or, put a spin on this traditional choice by arranging a series of small mirrors in a pattern or hanging an empty frame instead.
Think Outside The (Fire) Box
After you've finalized your fireplace mantel decor, give yourself a quick pat on the back. Then back to work! Place a tall plant or statue to the side of the fireplace, and invest in a candelabra for use in warm months. These go in the firebox itself or sit in front of it on the hearth to provide all the romantic ambiance of flickering flames without the heat of a traditional fire.