A fireplace is a natural focal point in any room, so how you decorate your mantel really matters. The space is versatile enough to house all kinds of décor—like large-scale artwork, seasonal items, and tokens from your travels. And while all those options make it hard to go wrong, they can also be overwhelming to sift through.
To help you figure out how to decorate the space above your fireplace, we’ve rounded up 35 mantel decorating ideas worth bookmarking. Our favorites suit mantels of all sizes and styles, so you’re bound to find a few worth trying in your space.
Hang Some Truly Massive Artwork
One classic way to dress up your fireplace? Leave your mantel bare—and hang some art above it. Make a statement with a massive piece that highlights how high your ceilings are. Or switch up your palette with a painting that brings new colors into your space.
Mix and Match Candlesticks
Putting candlesticks above your fireplace may seem like overkill, but the cozy touch will instantly make your fireplace more elegant. Keep things interesting by choosing candlesticks in different sizes, shapes, and colors. And snag some equally varied taper candles, while you’re at it.
Build Cabinets That Look Like Art
Lots of mantels are topped with built-in cabinetry, and with a little creativity, your cabinets can look as stunning as the fireplace below them. Paint your cabinets a pretty color, invest in fresh hardware, or frame them like a work of art.
Install Some Striking Light Fixtures
One underrated way to decorate your mantel? Install sconces above it. While the fixtures are often used to frame a decorated mantel, they look just as good above it—where they can shine light on all the pieces you’ve decided to showcase.
Line Your Mantel With Books
Turn your mantel into a library by lining it with books. Stick to a few favorites you always want within reach, and complement them with classic decorative items, like statuesque bookends and sculptures you’d display on your desk.
Transform the Room With a TV
There’s no getting around it: TVs transform any room you put them in. So if you’re ready to turn your living room into a movie theater, hang a TV above your fireplace—and line your mantel with décor that’s too short to obstruct your view.
Display Your Favorite Sculpture
Art can take many forms, so enjoy all the options at your disposal when decorating your mantel. If you can’t find a painting or poster to hang above your fireplace, expand your search to include other kinds of art.
A single sculpture can make an impact when placed atop your mantel—even if it’s much smaller than the art you’ve seen take on the task.
Fill a Vase with Pretty Branches
Flower-filled vases put the finishing touches on any space. But if you don’t want to replace the flora above your fireplace every other week, fill your vases with sprawling branches or dried bouquets, instead.
Create a Leaning Art Gallery
Hanging art above your fireplace isn’t your only option. If your mantel is extra-long, you can create a leaning art gallery—propping photos, prints, and paintings along your mantel and against your wall.
Color-Coordinate Your Set-Up
Your mantel décor scheme doesn’t need its own palette, but designating one can make decorating easier. Once you’ve found a piece of décor worth displaying on your mantel, stock up on other pieces in similar shades.
Mix and match different decorative items, or curate within a single category of décor. Your monochromatic display will make a statement either way.
Make a Mini-Mantel Garden
If your fireplace lives inside a light-filled room, take advantage, and line your mantel with plants. It’s rare to see pops of lush greenery above a fireplace. Your mini-mantel garden is sure to turn heads, even if it boasts just a few plants.
Split Your Décor Scheme Into Thirds
Want to simplify your mantel decorating process? Divide your mantel into thirds, and outfit each third with different décor. Sticking your largest piece in the middle is usually a safe bet. Then, you can stock the outer thirds with smaller items, like plant-filled vases, candlesticks, or little works of art.
Set the Scene With a Moody Photograph
If abstract paintings and graphic posters simply aren’t your thing, decorate your mantel with a photograph, instead. Pay attention to the contents and the colors of the photo—and make sure it sets the right mood in your space.
Photos can be playful, calming, uplifting, or dramatic, so consider the atmosphere you’re trying to cultivate and pick the right photo for the job.
Layer Art Over a Statement Mirror
When hanging stuff on your walls, layering isn’t really feasible. But it’s a viable option when you’re propping stuff on your mantel. If you’re struggling to choose between two striking pieces, put both on your mantel—and layer one over the other. Just make sure to keep the smaller piece in front of the bigger one. That way, both statement-makers get room to shine.
Make a Home for Your Ceramics
Ceramics can be incredibly beautiful, but there’s rarely a clear place to put them. Enter: your mantel. The above-fireplace shelf is an ideal place to showcase stunning ceramics, so line your mantel with pretty pottery, or slide a couple of key pieces to one side of the shelf.
Display Your Favorite Knick Knacks
The best-decorated mantels aren’t just shelves—they’re bonafide mini-museums. Don't be afraid to use yours to showcase your favorite souvenirs or knick-knacks. The pretty wares are sure to dress up your fireplace, plus, they’ll double as conversation starters, giving you plenty to talk about every time you host houseguests.
Match Your Mat Board to Your Mantel
Displaying art along your mantel? Choose your mat board with care. Mat board is the thick paper that sits between your artwork and your picture frames, and it comes in a range of different colors. Of course, you’ll want a color that complements the artwork you’re framing. But if the color also matches your mantel, you’ll be in for a truly stunning set-up.
Spread Out Your Décor
Spreading décor across your mantel is a classic choice—but it’s not your only option. By sticking a pop of décor on either side of your mantel, you can play with negative space in a way that’s truly eye-catching.
Find a Mirror That Brings the Room Together
When it comes to mantel décor, mirrors are one of the most classic options around—and with good reason. Mirrors make spaces feel brighter and more open. And since they come in a range of styles, you can find an option that brings your space together—or that adds some contrast to your décor scheme.
Place Your Art Off-Center
It’s completely reasonable to center art on your mantel. But if you want to make a statement, play with asymmetry, instead. For a dramatic look, slide the art to one end of your mantel. Or subtly draw the eye by placing your art slightly off-center.
Showcase the Changing Seasons
When the seasons change or a holiday approaches, decorating is top of mind. And your mantel is a great place to showcase your favorite festive finds. Line the shelf with pretty pieces that get you in the seasonal spirit. Or nod to the time of year with a single pop of décor.
Give Your Décor a Height Limit
Mantel décor can be large and imposing. So one simple way to make a statement? Stick with short décor. Stock up on decorative items within a given height range, and let the negative space above them become the star of the show.
Pair a Light Mantel With Dark Décor
Not sure what décor to stock up on? Use your mantel as a starting point. Snag décor that matches mantel—or add contrast by doing the opposite. After all, dark décor looks great on top of a light mantel, and light décor looks just as lovely on a dark one.
Build in an Entertainment Center
If you want to go a step beyond a wall-mounted TV, build a full-blown entertainment center above your mantel. Add a built-in that frames your TV, install a sound bar above your mantel, and add enough cozy seating to make fireside movie nights a regular occurrence.
Stocking up on mantel décor is one thing—and laying out that décor is another. When in doubt, decorate symmetrically. Create a focal point in the center of your mantel. Then, divide the rest of your décor into pairs and frame your centerpiece with those pairs.
Turn Literature Into Art
Running low on art worth displaying above your fireplace? Frame a passage from your favorite book, a poem from your favorite collection, or a letter from a friend—and display it on your mantel like art.
Stick Décor on One Side of Your Mantel
If your mantel décor scheme is comprised of just a few small pieces, slide them to one end of your mantel. This asymmetrical approach is sure to draw the eye. Plus, it’ll keep your décor from getting overshadowed by the negative space around it.
Invest in a Striking Poster
Fireplaces are often topped with sprawling paintings or ornate mirrors. But posters are great picks, too. So frame a poster from your favorite concert—or a print by your favorite artist—and proudly display it above your mantel.
Mix and Match Decorative Items
Don’t be afraid to mix and match on your mantel. Art, candlesticks, plants, and books can all live alongside each other in harmony—especially if they share similar colors and motifs.
Add Asymmetry With a Single Plant
Take your mantel décor scheme from simple to statement-making with a single pop of asymmetry. Start by placing your décor symmetrically. Then, stick a single plant on one end of your mantel. The off-kilter touch will make your display more eye-catching—without requiring much effort from you.
Frame Your Focal Point With Décor
Once you’ve mounted a painting over your fireplace, you might wonder what to put on your mantel. Should you leave it bare and risk a boring décor scheme, or line it with décor and risk visual clutter? Try splitting the difference, instead. By placing a decorative item on each end of your mantel, you can frame your painting—complementing, instead of competing.
Play With Scale
One fun way to dress up your mantel? Switch up your décor sizes—and do so dramatically. Hang a massive painting over your fireplace, and line your mantel with tiny vases. The contrast will make a statement that’s both bold and playful, leaving you with a personality-packed mantel.
Keep Your Mantel Décor Minimal
There’s no need to overthink your mantel décor scheme. Once you’ve placed something on your mantel and hung something on your wall, call it a day. A minimalist set-up can be just as eye-catching as a maximalist one.
Snag a Pair of Matching Artworks
Simplify your decorating process by snagging a pair of matching artworks and placing both on your mantel. The decorative duet should leave your mantel feeling thoroughly dressed up. And you can always layer in smaller pops of décor as you see fit.
Echo the Rest of the Room
Not sure how to decorate your mantel? Take cues from the rest of the room. Echo the colors, shapes, and motifs that already inhabit your space, and let those form the basis of your mantel décor scheme.