Dagmar Obert | Balsam Hill Design Consultant

How to Decorate Your Mantel Like a Pro

With all the holiday décor gone, most homeowners are left with an empty mantel after Christmas. Learn how to fill your mantel with style and personality all year with these fireplace decorating tips.

1. Showcase Art

A mantel is great place to display art. So go ahead and use it as a space for your own little gallery. Not only will this make your living room look more stylish, it will also serve as the perfect conversation starter.

Paintings, framed prints, family heirlooms, and even prized travel souvenirs are just some of the many things you can showcase. You can begin with a piece that you really love and then base the rest of your design around it.


2. Show Layers

Ensure a cohesive composition by layering and staggering different sized items in front of each other. Start with a big piece, about two-thirds the size of the mantel itself, and center it above the fireplace. Add in a secondary focal point that isn’t as big, but still gives a punch. Complete the ensemble by placing smaller elements, ideally in complementary colors or themes.

3. Follow the Rule of Three

The Rule of Three is a principle used in design to create harmony, force movement, and visual interest. The basic idea of the rule is that an odd number of objects are more appealing and effective than even-numbered pairings in terms of progression and spatial composition.

To build drama and progression in a space, consider a small gallery wall of three similar-size paintings. Gathering a trio of items in sizes large, medium and small will make a stunning display too.


4. Maintain Symmetry

Symmetrical compositions offer a pleasing, organized look, which tends to convey formality in a room. If going for this style, it is ideal to create a design that appears balanced and not heavily weighted on one end.

Whether displaying jars, photographs, or flower arrangements, consider layering and mixing up height while keeping things equally distributed on both sides to keep your mantel feel balanced.

5. Create Movement

Make your mantel display more interesting by showing some movement. Using elements of varying shapes and heights is definitely more visually engaging. It allows the eye to move up and down and across.


Candles or lanterns are a great way to create movement. People’s attentions are natural drawn to flickering flame.


6. Go for a Mirror or Flat-screen TV

A mirror does so much more than provide a place to check your hair and makeup. It reflects light opens up a closed space, and provides another vantage point in an area. Try basing a mantel display around a mirror if your fireplace is in a smaller room.

Be careful not to over-accessorize, regardless of the style or color of your chosen mirror. Let it be the primary focal point or décor showstopper.


Being the focal point of the room, the mantel offers the perfect spot for a flat-screen TV. In fact, a TV on a mantel is currently on-trend and there are a lot of people out there who seem to enjoy it. For safety, make sure you mount your TV to the wall rather than having it on a stand directly on the mantel.


Because of all the heating your home requires during winter, it is the fireplace that gets all the attention. But the function of the hearth doesn’t need to remain at a practical level. With these decorating tips, you can breathe new life into your mantel and make it a gorgeous focal point.

About the Author
Dagmar Obert is a designer with over two decades of experience transforming homes into spaces that reflect comfort and elegance. Her sophisticated style emanates from her love of color, forms, and textures. From her choice of fabric to her selection of accent pieces, Dagmar pulls together the look of a room to deliver a statement of class. Surrounded by family and friends, Dagmar takes delight in turning her own home into a venue where wonderful occasions are made more memorable. Her how-to guides and inspiration articles on decorating and entertaining provide readers with unique ways to create the perfect setting for life’s cherished moments.