Fireplace Mantle Styling: 3 Ways to Share your Personal Style

Posted by Amanda Nowak on 15th May 2015

This past week I was given a challenge, and I’d love to pass it along to you, our readers! Can you style your fireplace mantle with only items found in your home? I challenged myself to these guidelines: no shopping, no bringing anything from my inventory. My friend Katy graciously offered up her home for me to pillage! Here is what she had already decorating the mantle:

We started with a tour of her and her husband Chris’ (beautiful!) home, where she pointed out artwork and accessories I might want to use as we moved from room to room. Katy and Chris are in their 30’s and have not been in their home very long. So unlike say, my mother, they have not had decades of collecting under their belts and boxes of knick-knacks overcrowding their basement. In fact, besides the items that were already out on display, she only had one box of miscellaneous accessories.

Next we cleared everything off of the fireplace and started with a blank slate. When styling a fireplace, the main thing I think about is balance. An easy way to create balance it to style it symmetrically. You have probably seen fireplaces where there is a candlestick on each end and maybe a long votive candle holder in the middle. It is balanced-each side has the same visual weight.

In this instance, we did not have many doubles of anything, so the symmetrical fireplace was out of the question. It was going to be asymmetry all the way. Here is the first styling:

As you can see, I balanced the ‘weight’ of the arrangement of the middle frames with a taller plant on the left and a bulky clock on the right. I also had to be conscious of creating some height in the middle since the sconces draw attention to the middle of the fireplace.

Next, we decided to style the mantle for Katy’s husband Chris. She gave me the original art piece below with the alligator as a starting point. I then looked for more masculine items throughout the house. We found a couple of beer growlers and utilized some album covers from Chris and Katy’s collection.

Then we were having so much fun, Katy wanted a mantle styling that reflected her. We included books she loved, a picture of her grandmother, an original art piece of her cat, mugs she and Chris received as a gift, and a stained glass piece that she made (what talent!).

Ready to style your fireplace? Here are my quick pointers for getting started:

  1. Clear off the mantle. 
  2. Take into account the depth and length of the mantle, as well as the height of the wall above the mantel. This will give you an idea of what you can put on the mantle and how high you can go with your arrangement. 
  3. Find things that are meaningful to you to put on the mantle. Your fireplace is typically a focal point in your home. Styling your mantle to reflect you and your family is an easy way to give your home character and warmth. 
  4. Re-arrange, re-arrange, re-arrange! Do not get analysis paralysis by staring at the blank fireplace and being afraid of where to put the first item. Arrange what you think will work. Now stand back and look at it. Change as needed. Even though I have done this for years, sometimes I re-arrange a fireplace or bookcase many, many times until I come to the final product. 
  5. Go with your gut. Listen to that little voice in your head that says “The picture in the middle is too small” or “the right side needs to be taller”. Even though we are not all designers, we all have this voice. It is just louder in some of our heads than others!

Will you take on the fireplace styling challenge? Email us your before and after images (, we’d love to see them!