How to Decorating a Fireplace Mantel

A fireplace, even one that is not in use, adds warmth and personality to a room. If you are among the few lucky people to have a fireplace in your home, use the mantel as a platform to tell any décor story you want. However, remember that this piece of architecture will command attention in any room, and thus fireplace mantel décor will not go unnoticed. If you are decoratively challenged, use these tips on decorating a fireplace mantel or pick up any fireplace mantel ideas from magazines or showrooms and get started.

When considering home decorating, the first thing you need to decide on is the kind of look you wish to achieve. You may want clean lines with a minimalist theme or a cozy lived in look. Your décor for the fireplace mantel will depend on this decision. While incorporating a fireplace into a decorating scheme, you need to decide if you wish to downplay or dramatize it.

While deciding how to decorate a fireplace mantel, two basic principles to keep in mind are balance and proportion. Also try out a few different arrangements, to see what looks best, before doing anything permanent like hanging pictures or mirrors.

Symmetrical Decor
Most people follow symmetry while decorating fireplace mantels, with the main piece in the center and/or above the mantel, and similar items on either side. They could be vases, figurines, candlesticks or whatever you fancy. You can almost never go wrong with this kind of fireplace mantel décor, but it does lack imagination. However, it is perfect for a formal room.

Asymmetrical Decor
This kind allows for more fluidity and creativity. While balance is essential for any aesthetic design, an asymmetric layout is not rigid. The items on each side of the center can be different, yet maintain some similarity in visual proportion. For example, a cluster of smaller items on one side can be balanced by a single larger item on the other side. Balance and flow can also be maintained by focusing on the factors like height, weight or color of the items.

Radial Arrangements
Large fireplace mantels benefit from this kind of decoration. Your key item is placed in the center and the other smaller pieces form a circle around it. If you have eclectic taste, this arrangement may suit you, as it has high visual movement.

Less is More
A very common way to decorate a fireplace mantel is to restrict the décor to a single item. One way to do this is to place a single large item, such as a large candle stand or crystal sculpture in the center of the fireplace mantel. Mirrors, large art pieces, and wreaths are other good choices. The advantage of this method is that it conveys a sense of order with a soothing effect.

Busy Mantel
A crowded mantel is in opposition to the clean, clear mantel, but looks good if arranged in a systematic way. If this is your décor scheme of choice, you could cover your mantel with objects of different size. It is important to analyze your arrangement from all angles to ensure that it has balance and flow. While using this scheme, learn to layer and know when to stop. This style is perfect in any room that has plenty of visual activity throughout.

Many fireplaces in contemporary homes have little or no mantel. In these cases, other than building a fireplace mantel, the best thing to do is to focus on the space above the mantel with the use of a piece of art or a mirror. Decorating a fireplace mantel can be done in different themes, however, many prefer leaving the mantel bare. A natural stone fireplace is striking by itself, and does not require embellishments.

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