Mantel decor ideas – 10 tips for year-round fireplace and mantelpiece decoration

It's hard to beat the draw of a real fire, but your mantel decor ideas should also have a beauty of its own, especially in winter

Mantel decor ideas
(Image credit: Future)

Each time you gather round the fire in the coming months, mantel decor ideas will be at the heart of all these cozy, winter moments.  

Interior design ideas for your mantel are all about adding an extra layer of visual warmth to your home as the weather gets colder, meaning that the fireplace should be a priority for a seasonal refresh. 

Rethinking your living room or bedroom’s look for after the festive season is also about appreciating the beautiful natural changes happening outside the window, so be sure to sprinkle some seasonal magic in the form of nature-inspired color palettes, rustic textures and raw materials amongst your fireplace ideas

Mantel decor ideas 

Whether you’re looking for an all-out celebration of nature or a subtle nod to the changing seasons, we’ve found some inspiring living room fireplaces and mantel decor ideas, and asked the experts for their advice on making your mantelpiece look beautiful once all the Christmas decorations have come down.

1. Introduce botanical elements in preparation for spring

Mantel decor ideas

(Image credit: Future)

From arboretum-inspired motifs to hothouse plant life, foliage takes on a fresh look this season. It’s time to welcome all things green and pleasant for your mantel decor ideas. 

Fresh and inviting, the botanical trend is a simple way to add character and energy to a scheme. Energizing and uplifting, plants and plant motifs have huge decorative potential in the home and enduring appeal. 

On this mantel, delicate branches of hazel set against a soft ivory background evoke a serene and elegant look. Echo the wallpaper and bring the design to life with a single branch displayed in the foreground.

2. Paint your mantel to match the walls

Mantel decor ideas with painted mantel

(Image credit: Future)

Clever paint ideas are the easiest, quickest and most affordable way to dramatically transform a home. 

'The right paint colors and techniques can even make small spaces appear larger and more cohesive,' says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux. 'Paint also has the power to transform our mantel decor ideas – and we are only just beginning to realize its potential.'

It's a classic choice to reach for the white paint when it comes to our mantelpieces, but you could be missing a trick. Instead, why not paint your mantel in the same color as the surrounding wall?

This daring paint idea is also a great technique for bringing together fragmented rooms, and can be used as an entire color scheme for a whole room. Any shade can be used, but this blue room idea is an extremely versatile choice – and when used as one block of color, it can be an enveloping breath of fresh air.

3. Create symmetry with your mantel decor

Mantel decor ideas

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Symmetry in interior design is a technique used by designers to create a space that looks incredibly tidy and curated – and therefore calming and relaxing. Using architectural elements such as fire surrounds and mantels is a good place to start. 

‘Symmetry provides balance within a room and it often starts from the focal point, where that be with vases, sculptures or candles on a mantel' says Liv Wallers from British design studio, Yellow London. 'It can bring a sense of comfort and rhythm to a room which is an integral part of our design philosophy.'

On the whole, when we think of symmetry we tend to think that it’s all about contemporary interiors, whereas in fact, the principles of course work in a traditional setting too, as show above.

4. Take a maximalist approach to decorating a mantel

Mantel decor ideas

(Image credit: Future)

The maximalist trend is all about embracing excess. More might be more, but the current home ideas trend for maximalism doesn’t need to equal chaos or clutter. 

Think of your mantel as a carefully curated Aladdin’s cave of treasures, with each item on display even more fascinating than the last. The key to taking a maximalist approach to your mantel is to invest in lavish objects and sculptures that wouldn’t look out of place in the grandest of palaces. 

5. Make it the center of attention 

Fall mantel ideas with burnt orange wallpaper, stone mantelpiece, wooden apple and pear ornaments

(Image credit: Kit Kemp)

When it comes to living room ideas, the mantel becomes not just another design element but a main focal point, so discovering the perfect addition to your space can elevate the room from one of function into one full of ambience and conviviality. 

For immediate dynamism, frame your mantel with a curated selection of your favorite objects and art to allow your fireplace to stand out. Use colors found in nature to instantly add seasonal flair to your mantel with ease. This makes the room feel coherent and enveloped in a design that focuses on the warmth and comfort you seek, much like our fall mantel ideas.

6. Decorate with a monochromatic color scheme

Mantel decor with black and white scheme

(Image credit: Future)

While decorating with black and white can be tricky to get right, a considered approach will be rewarded by a simple but impactful mantelpiece. Monochrome interiors can work especially well for traditional fireplace ideas, where a one-tone canvas serves to highlight and complement original features. 

A mantel looks elegant and smart decorated in black and white, but if you are sticking religiously to the monochrome color scheme, it's really important to ensure that you add plenty of texture else into the room to ensure it feels warm and welcoming.

7. Use tiles to create a colorful backsplash

Mantel decor ideas with patterned backsplash

(Image credit: Future)

If your mantel is in need of a little love, why not create a colorful backsplash to add unparalleled interest? 

For a backsplash that encompasses both rusticity and a touch of pattern, look to Morocco. The North African country’s famed zellige tiles are seriously on trend right now, with good reason. Handmade from clay and highly glazed, the uneven texture of the square tiles means the surface bounces light across the room. 

8. Hang a mirror above a mantel

Mantel decor with grey wall and mirror

(Image credit: Future)

As well a providing a focal point for your mantel, decorating with mirrors can make your space feel lighter, brighter and bigger. Adding a mirror above your mantel is not only an aesthetic choice, it’s a practical one too that can work wonders for the proportions of the space.

‘Mirrors have long been a creative design tool of interior designers for their versatility and ability to make a statement in almost any room of the house that has a fireplace,’ says Owen Pacey, founder of Renaissance London

When choosing a shape for your living room mirror ideas, consider keeping it modern with a perfect circle. Particularly if used with minimal framing, the on trend shape can make your mirror feel like a tunnel to a parallel world, plus it can be used to reflect a beautiful bouquet – only serving to enhance its visual appeal.

9. Display your favorite art or prints

Mantel decor with modern art

(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to display your favorite pieces of art – whether paintings or objets – is key to giving them the spotlight they deserve. The key is to give them the space to be seen, to pick a focal point for them in a room – over or on a mantelpiece is a prime position.

If you have a particular picture that you really want to draw attention to, displaying it separately is the best way. Keep surrounding accessories simple and minimal so as not to draw attention away from the star of the show.

10. Pick out colors found elsewhere in the room

Mantel decor with planters

(Image credit: Future)

A carefully-curated color scheme (even if you’re using neutrals) should be the first thing to consider when you are looking for mantel decor ideas. 

Here, a harmonious – and playful – living room fireplace has been created using the colors on the coffee table as the center point, pulling tones out to feature within the floral arrangement on the mantelpiece and art above. 

How do I decorate my mantel?

The challenge when decorating a mantel is that often they are narrow. If this is the case, an all-year-round garland made from foliage bound into a length of rope or sash cord will form a generously but flatbacked swag of greens, the weight of which will help to keep it in position.

Next, address the decor. A simple vase and dried foliage or eucalyptus will make a perfect addition to your mantel decor ideas. If you want to create symmetry, you could situate two candle holders at either end or two wall sconces that sit just above the mantel. 

What looks good on a mantelpiece? 

A mantelpiece is a great place on which to display uniquely personal decor. It should be a capsule display of your interior design style mixed with the things that are most important to you – it is, after all, at the very heart of your living room. Family photographs and heirlooms instantly make you feel at home, while artwork and ornaments will help you put them in context of your own personal style. 

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.