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  • Writer's pictureSarah Pence

How To Style: Your Fireplace Mantel

If you've got a fireplace in your home then chances are that you've stood in front of it and thought "what do I put there?!". It's a question I get asked all the time. Most times, people say things like "Now that the holidays are over, I don't know what to put there." or "How do I take these decor pieces I have and style them on my mantel?". For some, it's easier just to leave it and put nothing there at all because it becomes a daunting household task rather than a fun styling sesh... and I'm about to change that! Keep reading to learn some tips to make it easy AND fun to style YOUR mantel in a matter of minutes! You'll even have an opportunity to shop these looks below!

*Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information about the use of my website, see my terms of service.*


Let's Get Started...

I'm going to break down 5 different looks, how to style them, the design science behind them, and where to shop these looks for your home. So, buckle up my friend - it's going to be a fun ride!


|| The Look ||

This modern farmhouse look is a combination of natural elements, bold blacks, and neutral decor. Let's talk styling and how to get this look!

|| The Science ||

Are you ready for this #designscience? We're taking it all the way back to grade school and following some basic shapes. That's right - if you know your shapes, then you can absolutely do this, my friend! This look follows a triangle shape and keeping this simple shape in mind is a game-changer as you begin to piece things together!

|| The Styling ||

Now that we know the shape to keep in mind, let's decide which pieces best fit the shape and styling you're going for in this look.

  • Start with your center piece and do just that - center it! For this look, I chose a round central object (you can use a clock or another round piece of art, too!) to break up all the hard lines and corners. It gives a bit of variety and interest to build on for the rest of the arrangement.

  • Candlesticks are a great way to add height and warmth. They're neutral, easy to use just about anywhere in the house, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.

  • To balance the overal look and add a bit of life, add a plant (or some simple stems) in a vase or fun planter.

  • To complete the look and give it a bit more dimension, add a few lower objects like this dough bowl, book stack, and small planter.

You can use this same triangle trick with different objects and decor styles, too! Here's another example:

|| The Styling ||

This contemporary style fireplace is gorgeous on it's own, but if you're someone who loves color - this styling tip is for you!

  • Start with a bold piece of art. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase your personal style!

  • Add plants in fun pots (like these stacked planters you can shop below!) and fill them with some hearty plants (or faux plants if your thumb is not of the green persuasion).

  • Adding some colorful vases or pottery to give a balance of color and height is the perfect way to finish off this look!


BONUS TIP: If you're looking to add color to your space - always choose your art, rug, or fabrics FIRST. By choosing one of these things as your "muse", you're going to make it SO much easier to decide the perfect color palette!


On to the next look! And more simple design science that will blow your mind!

|| The Look ||

Maybe your style is more simple and transtional style decor is your jam - I got you, friend. Since the transitional style is all about neutral tones and perfectly balanced symmetry - this look is going to reflect just that!

|| The Science ||

Ready for another earth-shattering design science lesson? If you said "yes!" and guessed we're talking more shapes - you're right! This time let's look at the rectangle template. By treating all 3 pieces as one and centering them with equal spacing in the shape of a rectangle, you're able to achieve a balanced and well-designed look in a matter of mere minutes!

|| The Styling ||

  • Simple, clean, and timeless is the name of the game with this transitional look. By using a single piece of art (roughly 2/3 the size of your mantel), you'll add color and style without all the fuss.

  • Adding a pair of wall mounted light fixtures can be just the right finishing touch. Not only are they a beautiful addition to the mantel, but an added functional element to the room!


BONUS TIP: If you love the look of wall mounted lighting, but don't love the idea of call the electrician to hard-wire your light fixtures - use a battery operated puck light! They'll easily fit right into the fixture and you'll be able to turn them on with a remote from your sofa!


Here's another example of the rectangle template trick with a different decor style:

|| The Look ||

The modern global look is becoming more and more popular, but if you're not careful you may end up with a space that looks more like a thrift shop than a well-styled home. Let's take a look at some styling tips to make sure that doesn't happen!

|| The Science ||

Here's that rectangle template in actio again! Remember, if you're pulling things from your travels out to style them and it's not forming a nice balanced rectangle, try again! This look is the perfect way to display all your treasures so let's make sure they really shine!

|| The Styling ||

This eclectic grouping of fabulous things is sure to be an eye-catching conversation starter. So, let's make sure we're giving this look it's due with a few quick tips on how and where to use those pieces you found along your travels to Moracco...or ya know... World Market.

  • Using art of different sizes, shapes, and textures is a great way to display multiple styles within the same space. It creates a beautiful illusion of depth (even on the most narrow mantels!) and allows the eye to drift comfortably rather than being drawn to and fixating on one spot.

  • Natural elements like rattan, bamboo, and of course - you know ya girl loves plants! Finding pieces in fun patterns or shapes (how stinkin' cute is that daydreaming girl pot, yall?!) brings so much life and texture to the look without making it feel overwhelming.

  • Balance is still important in any one of these looks - even the eclectic ones so be sure to add a few pieces in the same color family into the mix, too! It will create a more cohesive and purposeful look!


BONUS TIP: Not a world traveler, but love the modern global look? Grab your bestie and visit some local thrift shops! There are TONS of great finds out there just waiting for a new home. Maybe they'll have a cool story. And if they don't - make one up! This is supposed to be FUN, remember?!


|| The Look ||

This last look has a neutral, fun, boho feel - and it's a bit of a "rule breaker". So, if you're a bit of a rebel like me (...within reason, yall...don't get crazy. I'm in bed by 9pm.) check out the science and styling of this one below!

|| The Science ||

Ok, I might be a baby design rebel because I'm starting with a large piece of off-centered art, but I also like themes and symmetry because this rebel is a Type A personality. So... more shapes! This one follows a square template. By tracing out a square you can follow the similarities in height and width of the elements being used to create an overall square and balanced design. While starting with an off-centered piece may seem odd, we're going to balance it out. Check out the styling below!

|| The Styling ||

This modern boho style can be easily re-created, but procede with caution. Bohemian doesn't mean we just hippy dippy find someting in the dumpster on a street in the "cool" part of town. [Don't laugh, yall. I actually had someone DM me asking if boho style meant she had to stop washing her hair and wearing deodorant. You can't make this stuff up.] Bohemian does, however, mean a bit unconvential in an artistic way. We still want to create an artful arrangement here if we want it to look like everything on this mantel was put there on purpose.

  • Using different sizes, shapes, and mediums when it comes to art is a crucial part of this design. It's going to add texture, depth, and color. The best part? If you don't find something you love to use here - make your own! Seriously, you can create art with just about anything and you'll have an absolute blast doing it! Starting with the largest piece off to one side, you'll add smaller pieces to layer for depth.

  • Of course, I'm adding plants here, too. Another tell tale sign of a well-designed boho space! Again - it's going to add life to the arrangement (and the room!) and create the illusion of equal heights. If you find a dreamy pot and stems you love like this one but it's not quite tall enough, grab some books and give it a little boost! Now you've got a perfectly balanced mantel design!


BONUS TIP: If you don't have a ton of books to use (since we live in the digital age and things like kindles are saving us bookshelf space these days) OR if the books you have just don't have the right color binding to fit your decor - check your local used book store, thrift shops, or little free libraries in your neighborhood!



Shop the looks from all the styling tips here:


Are you liking my style and interested in working 1:1 with me to create a custom project of your own? Let's talk!


Stay tuned for more styling tips coming soon in my "How to Style..." series and be sure to follow along on social media for more tips, design inspiration, and FUN!


And as always...

Until next time,

Be well. Stay kind.

And keep dreaming.


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