The question I am most frequently asked is, “How do I decorate my mantel?” Well, I’m certainly not the best mantelscaper in the blogosphere, but I might be one of the most enthusiastic! Decorating your mantel can be fun, inexpensive, and rewarding. Below is a collection of several of my mantel creations from the past two years.
So where do you start? How do you begin?
If you’re completely at a loss and mantel decorating seems intimidating, then I recommend you follow either of these two “formulas”.
Formula #1: Create a Visual Triangle
- Use a large object in the center such as a mirror.
- Use two or three smaller objects on the left. Candlesticks work well.
- Use one large object on the right. A large vase or urn filled with sticks/flowering branches works nicely.
- Layer smaller objects such as picture frames in the empty spaces.
The visual triangle formula is my standard go-to when I begin decorating my mantel. I always start with my main focal point which can be a piece of artwork, mirror, picture frame, wreath, window, pallet art, etc. Use your imagination, shop your house, and change it up. I steal mirrors, art, and wreaths from all over the house to place above my mantel to fit the season. Don’t be scared to experiment and make new nail holes! They are easily patched. Next, I gather a collection of objects that I think might work and I start playing. I move things around, walk across the room, squint at it, and then move things around again. Tweaking your mantel is all part of the fun! Enjoy the creative process
For me, the best way to glean some mantel inspiration is by following an example. Here are three more examples of mantels demonstrating the “Visual Triangle Formula”.
Formula #2: Make it Symmetrical
- You cannot go wrong with symmetry! Start with a mirror, frame, wreath, or identical grouping of frames in the center.
- Create balance on the left and right of your mantel by using groupings of items that mirror one another.
The only difference between this formula and the first is that you are simplifying things a bit. You are still creating a visual triangle, but this time you are creating a mirror image on each side of your mantel. So instead of grouping objects on the left and finding a large object for the right, you are grounding each end of your mantel with an identical object.
In the picture below, the mirror is placed in the center and the baby Christmas trees provide the symmetry. Visually, this mantel is creating an upside down triangle which is interesting and pleasing to the eye. Using simplicity in color, symmetry, and balance will produce a cute mantel 99% of the time. (The other 1% you ask? Well, if you chose to balance your mantel with large gaudy clowns or something of the sort it might fall into that 1% category.)
Tip: Notice that the groupings of objects in the middle are not identical but match each other in height. Placing meaningful objects on your mantel in the form of pictures or special treasures is always encouraged!
Need more examples of mantel symmetry in action? Here you go:
Once you become comfortable using these two formulas, you’ll begin to find your own style and enjoy breaking the rules! I hope you’ll get those mantels ready and join the party on December 8th!!