When it comes to furnishing your home, you’ve probably got the basics down. You know how to fill your rooms with furniture and line your walls with décor. But when it comes to those less-common areas—like the space above your fireplace—you may draw a blank. How can you creatively decorate your fireplace mantel? Or, if your fireplace sits against a bare wall, how can you creatively decorate it?
The good news is you’re not the first person who needs to decorate their fireplace. The feat has been attempted (and pulled off) tons of times before—great above-the-fireplace ideas abound.
To help you sift through all your options, we’ve rounded up some of the prettiest decorated fireplaces we could find, and we’ve zeroed in on an interesting décor idea worth stealing from each of them.
Line Up a Bunch of Matching Vases
Vases make an easy addition to bare corners and empty shelves. So naturally, they’ll look great on your mantel. Snag a bunch in a matching color scheme, and line them up unevenly.
If you’re pairing the vases with other décor, consider sticking with smaller options. Otherwise, let the vases get as large and statement-making as you want them to be.
Mount a Set of Statement Sconces
We tend to think of sconces as supporting players. But score a statement-making set, and they’ll steal the whole show. If you’ve snagged a set of sconces that are unusually big and bold, don’t use them to frame another striking accent. Instead, let them stand on their own.
Display a Striking Work of Art
There are some tried-and-true mantel décor ideas, and one of the classics? Mounting a painting above your fireplace. This approach is beloved for a reason—it works every time. And if you want to add a surprising finishing touch, you can mount a picture light directly above your painting.
Propagate Some Plants
If your fireplace is in a well-lit room, consider using it to propagate plants. Sneak some pretty cuttings inside some small glass vases, and line your mantel with them. These sleek additions should be just striking enough to make your mantel feel decorated. Plus, you’ll end up growing some new plants in the process.
Paint Your Walls a Striking Color
Remember that you can decorate your walls without hanging décor on them. How? By painting them a fun color. If your fireplace is neutral, consider pairing the walls behind it with a striking shade like bright yellow, navy blue, or emerald green. Once you have, you can leave your walls as is, or you can finish them off with décor. Either way, they’re sure to make a statement.
Install an Extremely Wide Shelf
Many fireplaces are centered on a given wall, but some aren’t. If yours isn’t, don’t be afraid to mount a mantel that stretches from wall to wall rather than sitting just above your fireplace. Top this extra-wide shelf with art, books, and anything else you can think of. It’s bound to turn heads, even if left totally bare.
Layer Two Framed Pieces
Sometimes, it’s hard to settle on just one piece of art—so display two pieces of art, instead. Layer both on your mantel, with the bigger piece tucked behind the smaller one.
What’s nice about this approach is that it’s inherently flexible: once you’ve grown tired of one piece, you can easily swap it with another.
Invest in an Ornate Mirror
Mirrors and fireplaces make a lovely pair. And when it comes to mirrors, it’s pretty tough to go wrong with an ornate option. Why? Ornate mirrors tend to complement antique-filled interiors, while adding contrast to more contemporary homes. In other words, an ornate mirror will reliably suit your space—no matter what it looks like.
Carve Out a Sculptural Décor Nook
If you don’t mind a more involved approach, consider building a column above your mantel and carving a décor nook out of it. This strategy is popular for concealing TVs, but you can just as easily use it to showcase décor.
Line Your Mantel With Postcards
Add a pop of personality to your mantel by lining it with postcards. This is a classic move during the winter, when holiday cards have flooded your mailbox. But with a handful of less seasonal postcards, you can pull it off during any time of year.
Use Your Wall Moulding as a Frame
If the space above your fireplace is lined with wall molding, consider using this trim as a canvas for décor. Treat the molding like a frame, and hang some art inside it. And if you really want to get creative, you can subvert expectations by hanging the art off-center.
Take a Risk on a Massive Poster
When it comes to art, paintings aren’t your only option. Posters can be just as striking. And since they tend to be a touch budget-friendlier than painted pieces, you may be able to score a massive option without breaking the bank.
Match Your Décor to Your Mantel
For a more minimal approach, consider matching your décor to your mantel. By keeping your palette streamlined, you can cut down on visual clutter—no matter how many decorative items you end up scoring for your space.
Mount a TV
A TV may not be as pretty as a striking painting or an ornate mirror. But it will make your space a lot more functional. With this simple addition, you can transform your living room into a movie theater, a sports bar, a watch party venue, and more. And really, who doesn’t want to watch their favorite show cozied up by the fireplace?
Hang Maps of Your Favorite Places
If you’re not really an art person, don’t fret—there are tons of other things you can hang above your fireplace. One great option? Display maps of your favorite places. Keep things streamlined by snagging these maps from the same source, or mix and match for a more varied look.
Pair a Painting With Matching Sconces
Draw attention to a striking painting by framing it with sconces. Then, draw even more attention to it by making sure those sconces match the painting itself. By snagging items within a similar palette, you can create a bolder-than-average pop of color—one that’s sure to draw the eye.
Line One Side of Your Mantel With Candlesticks
When putting candlesticks on your mantel, remember you don’t have to lay things out symmetrically. Instead of clustering some candlesticks on the left and some on the right, consider putting them all on the same side. This striking choice should turn heads without demanding much effort. Plus, you’ll be able to rearrange the candlesticks any time you want to.
Hang a Floor-to-Ceiling Mirror
Mounting a mirror above your fireplace is a classic option. But mounting a mirror behind it can be just as striking. To pull off the look, snag a massive sheet mirror, and use it to cover the wall behind your fireplace. The bold piece will act like a coat of paint, turning the space behind your fireplace into a reflective accent wall.
Use Your Mantel as a Bookshelf
If your collection of books is ever-expanding, consider using your mantel to store a few. Stack up some of your favorites, or use bookends to turn your mantel into a well-stocked library. Either way, you’ll end up with something that’s both pretty and practical.
Place Your Artwork Off-Center
Centering your décor is an obvious choice. But if you’re looking for a way to add visual intrigue, consider placing your focal point slightly off-center. This should add interest without throwing your space completely off balance. And if you want to add more drama, simply slide the décor further to one side.
Frame Your Fireplace With Pendant Lights
Sconces are a popular way to illuminate your mantel. But if you’ve sprung for a large TV, you may not have room to mount them. Instead, you can frame your fireplace—and light up your mantel—by hanging a pair of pendant lights. Just be sure to keep them streamlined to cut down on clutter. (After all, you don’t want to block your TV!)
Display an Intriguing Sculpture
Often, art means paintings, photographs, and prints. But, remember that it can mean sculptures, too. If you’ve scored a striking sculpture, consider showcasing it on your mantel. Depending on its size, you can pair it with other artwork—or let it stand on its own.
Leave Your Mantel Surprisingly Bare
When decorating your mantel is the norm, there’s one very easy way to make a statement: leave your mantel bare. By keeping your décor sleek and minimal, you can draw attention to your fireplace—simply by emphasizing the negative space around it.
Flank a Geometric Mirror With Geometric Sconces
When coordinating your above-fireplace décor, consider playing with shape rather than color. Pair a geometric mirror with sleek circular sconces, and bring your space together by placing a few geometric vases on your mantel.
Hang a Painting That Matches Your Drapes
If you know you want to hang a painting above your fireplace—but you’re not sure which painting to hang—take cues from the rest of your space. By matching the painting to a nearby accent, like a striking set of drapes, you can add cohesion to your space (while adding décor to your mantel).
Make a Statement With a Sculptural Candlestick
There are tons of pretty candlesticks out there. But some are so striking they could double as sculptures. Snag one of these beauties, and display it on your mantel for all to see.
If possible, try to match it to another accent in your space—like a nearby picture frame or a striking vase.
Cluster Your Décor in One Corner
If you’ve decided to decorate your mantel minimally, consider putting all your décor in one corner. These small items are likely to get overwhelmed if spread out too much. And by clustering them together, you can give them enough visual weight to hold their own in your space.
Snag a Mirror That Matches Your Mantel
If you love the look of a ceiling-to-floor mantel, rest assured knowing a build-in isn’t your only option. By snagging a tall mirror that matches your mantel in color, texture, and material, you can create the look of a columnar mantel without having to do any construction.