Mantle Styling 101

When I asked for blog ideas on Insta Stories last night SO many of you asked about mantle styling!  So I decided to focus on just that today for my post.  I find mantle styling to be something that just innately comes to me and not something I always plan out.  Sometimes it takes a little trial and error and moving things around and living with them for  a bit.  But I do have a few tips and tricks!

A little preview shot of my mantle from my next book – photo by Michael J. Lee

A few rules of thumb:

  • I like odd numbers when it comes to mantle styling, unless doing a perfectly symmetrical look like a pair of topiaries or sconces.
  • LAYER- especially when using a mirror above the mantle. Leaning smaller works in front of a mirror is such a rich, curated look that never has failed me.
  • If you have a big mirror elsewhere in the room, use art above the mantle. And vice versa.
  • I like asymmetrical looks of height on one side and lower objects on the other most times.
  • If you have to hang your TV above the mantle stick to something simple that doesn’t block the view. Either a pair of tall skinny items flanking the TV or a row of low smaller items underneath the TV.

Here I styled some various mantles in a way that I would in real life, to help you visualize the possibilities within your own space:

MANTLE 1: art // candlesticks // flowers // object // jar

MANTLE 2: mirror // faux branches // vase // candle // small art // match strike

MANTLE 3: mirror // sconces // drawing // coral on stand 

MANTLE 4: art // candle sconces // antler

MANTLE 5: topairies

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23 comments

  1. Where can i source a beam like the one in Mantle number 2. I live in Florida so something online might work best.

  2. Beautiful; thanks! I don’t have a mantel but I have an upright piano about the same height and these are helpful tips on how to style that. (but if you have any piano styling ideas I’d be all over that…inspiration specifically on that is hard to find!)

    1. Yes, piano styling please! Especially with a real piano lamp front and centre (my piano gets used daily)

      1. I struggle with the piano, too, and it’s the first thing you see when you walk in my front door!

      2. I wish I could send you a picture I found somewhere of an amazing piano styling. They did a lamp on top and pictures a vase, etc etc…and pictures where the sheet music goes. Since you use yours daily – maybe you could do that part when you are entertaining…

    2. I am with you! Piano styling please:) I have a walnut piano over 120 years, and it is beautiful, but it can look like grannies house because of its age. Help!

  3. how do you style a mantel that isn’t symmetrical? My home is mid-century modern with a 10 foot mantel across a 12 foot fireplace (indented 2 feet from one end). The firebox isn’t centered to the mantel or the fireplace. really cool but asymmetrical design is hard.

  4. Mantels can be hard to decorate since they usually are such a focal point it is important to get it RIGHT, you have given some really nice examples. Less is more and simplicity always seems to work!!

  5. We have a fireplace with a very shallow ledge, that really won’t hold anything well. At least nothing substantial. What would you do in that case?

  6. Hi! Love you’re blog. Such an inspiration. Hoping to re-create design 1 for my mantle.

    Any chance you could touch on decorating built-ins? We have two really pretty ones but am struggling with design ideas.

    Thanks so much!!

  7. My mantel is 5 feet off the ground on a 2 story wall and I’d like to keep a big square clock in the center, but struggle deocorating beneath and around the clock because it looks out of proportion being on a 2 story wall. Any recomendations to help lift the eye?

  8. I’d love you to feature exterior front doors and steps….where to find big, fat planters, beautiful doormats, elegant mailboxes and old-school door knockers, all that make people smile when they ring your bell!

  9. how do you style a mantel that isn’t symmetrical? My home is mid-century modern with a 10 foot mantel across a 12 foot fireplace (indented 2 feet from one end). The firebox isn’t centered to the mantel or the fireplace. really cool but asymmetrical design is hard.

  10. I love the tip about mirror and artwork…I have never thought of that! I personally don’t like dressing the mantel with anything if that is where the television resides. In the example above, I would remove the topiaries and just style the bookcases. I have the television over my fireplace (wish it didn’t have to go there) and it is surrounded by moulding and nothing else. Great tips!

  11. Thanks for the tips! Our fireplace/mantel is in the corner of the room. So I’ve never been able to figure out how to style the mantel and the little space in the corner above it. Right now we have a canvas above the mantel leaning into the corner space, but it looks awkward! Any suggestions?

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