Recently, I was asked to help out a friend who just moved into a new flat. Her place seemed to get together quite well, but with a bare mantel being the centerpiece of the home, it just didn’t feel ‘complete’. I realized more of you out there might struggle with the same thing, frequently bored by the ‘standard’ styling of one big mirror on the mantel and a couple of candles in front (which is quite a good start anyway, but you need to make it your own). The fireplace just loves to be the center of attention, and its styling can therefore have a dramatic impact on the rest of the interior.
My first advice would be to try to see the mantelpiece as a whole, not only just the edge on which you place things. Make use of the space in front, aside and above the fireplace, blending it into the rest of the interior. By adding a table just next to the mantel, a small chair in front or a plant on top, it makes the whole less ‘static’. See for example picture 1, where the use of frames on the mantel and on the wall aside connects the two parts of the room, easy no?
Secondly, don’t go for symmetry! I know it’s tempting, but trust me your place will look much more exciting and interesting by fooling the eye. Play with height, size, color and position, see picture 2: nothing seems to go together until it does. A third tip would be to see the mantelpiece as an opportunity to display things you love. No better way to show your personal style by exhibiting some of your favorite things on top or next to the focal point of the room. Try for example dressing up your fireplace with a piece of (faux) fur, souvenirs from trips or things that shimmer for the ‘wow’ effect. Try to think out of the box, by hanging a round mirror or multiple mirrors above the fireplace, or frame your favorite quotes and photo’s and dress up your wall with a collage. Draw attention to your mantelpiece by painting it or by applying amazing wallpaper (see the brown leather wallpaper below!)
Don’t be afraid to try out different things, get inspired by the images (not all are mantels, but they show perfectly well how to style one)… and have fun!