Design Files

How to Style a Mantel, The Right Way

Dani Caruso
By Dani Caruso

A fun way to play up personal style at home is on the mantel. Whether you have a true fireplace shelf or faux fixture, the mantel is a unique vignette where you can make a statement. Swap out decor monthly, season to season, or for the low-maintenance folk, only in between holidays; just be sure to do something with this space as it’s typically the focus of every living area. We’ve previously collected design inspo for seasons and holidays, here’s a basic formula for a balanced mantle year-round:

Photo: Inspired by Charm

The Formula

Photo via Overstock

This well-put together mantel is composed of three parts: 1. anchor 2. weighted sides 3. fillers

1. Anchor

Choose a focal point as the foundation for the mantel’s grand display. The anchor is the main attraction, be it an oversized mirror, a gallery or framed art piece, a removable wall decal, or a hand-painted design. Whichever route you choose, choose it carefully, as this is the first component of a mantel that draws the eye. Every accessory on this shelf going forward should complement the anchor. This focal point is typically centered, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can set it off-center, as long as you balance things by adding more weight to the opposing side.

2. Weighted Sides

A lone anchor can look pretty bare. Bulk things up with visual weight added on both sides. If you prefer symmetry, opt for matching light sconces or candle sticks, or you can use various but cohesive pieces like photo frames and floral arrangements. These objects add dimension to the shelf and are generally not the same height as the anchor.

3. Fillers

Complete your display by filling in open spaces with small decorations such as: books, plants, garlands, and sculptures. This rule applies to the main shelf as well as the floor below, so as to frame the fireplace and make everything unified. A mix of height and texture in the pieces will tie the mantel together perfectly.


A Kailo Chic Life nailed this display:



Weighted Sides



Dani Caruso
Dani Caruso By Dani Caruso
Dani is House One’s assistant editor. As a Norwalk, CT native, Dani graduated from UConn with a BA in Digital Media and Design. This millennial longs for the days of All That, Tamagotchis, and Dunkaroos. When she’s not working, she’s hanging outdoors, playing with her dogs, or watching makeup tutorials on YouTube.

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