Many people hear the phrase "decorating a mantel" and immediately think of the holiday season—hanging stockings, dressing it up with garland, and the like. And while this spot in the home definitely gets a lot of attention come wintertime, truthfully, the mantel is tons of fun to jazz up all year long. What's wonderful is that the possibilities when it comes to decor are truly endless. Whether you love travel, plants, books, or something entirely different, you can easily spruce up your mantel top to reflect your passions, all while displaying some of your favorite artwork and trinkets. And there's no need to buy new, either—many pieces that look fantastic on a mantel are things that you most likely already have in your home: vases, small prints, candle holders, and other decorating basics.
Because determining the best direction in which to go when styling can be a bit daunting, we're sharing 51 stunning mantels that will inspire you to take yours to the next level. And because we could all use a little guidance from the pros every now and then, we've included useful hints from design experts that will help steer you in the right direction as you decorate, too!
Meet the Expert
- Rozit Arditi is the founder of New York-based interior design firm Arditi Design.
- Michelle Gage is the founder and creative director of Michelle Gage Interior Design, based in Bryn Mawr, PA.
- Meg Young is the founder of Cailini Coastal, an online store that sells coastal-themed home accents.
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Have fun with florals! Rather than grouping stems together in one large vase, opt for smaller jars and create a sunny display on the mantel that is sure to brighten everyone in your household's day. You can change out the type of flower you showcase with each new season, too. Or go faux—with so many fabulous fake flowers on the market, no one will be able to tell the difference!Continue to 2 of 51 below.
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Line up those pillar candles for maximum impact. During the day, you'll be able to appreciate this fun arrangement, and at night, lighting the candles will make for a majorly moody spot to unwind and watch a cozy movie. And opting for a range of heights as we see here is a winning move. "Use decorative items of various sizes and heights to create visual interest and create balance," designer Rozit Arditi shares.
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An oil portrait, particularly one that's a bit quirky, will jazz up your mantel setup in no time. Here, an ornate frame adds extra pizzazz to this antique style print. Where everything is placed on the mantel top is key, designers note. "I like to make sure that my mantels have a good balance in regards to scale," designer Michelle Gage says. "You’ll likely need something tall at the center—like a mirror or artwork. Then, play with objects of varying heights beside it…be it a plant, vase or brass object. A mixture of materials is key to creating a well-intentioned look."
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Botanical prints are a classic and will always add a sweet touch to the living room. Note that they look especially lovely in groups of four, as seen above. Adding in floral decor keeps the theme going!Continue to 5 of 51 below.
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A vintage doily makes a major statement on this mantel and looks extra lovely paired with beads and sculptural objects in corresponding colors. Best of all, it won't cost you more than a few dollars, either. Talk about antique chic!Continue to 6 of 51 below.
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Plant pots don't need to be filled to look charming. Display a few empty ones alongside your green friends to bring the country cottage look home. Rustic accents, like a vintage looking window frame, contribute to this casual, farmhouse style setup.Continue to 7 of 51 below.
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There's no need to decide between displaying a mirror on the mantel versus some artwork—you can enjoy the best of both worlds and feature both. Layering a mirror in front of an oversized art piece adds intrigue to this coastal inspired display.Continue to 8 of 51 below.
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The board and batten walls behind this mantel deserve a moment to shine, so keeping accessories simple as seen above was the right move in this space. Still, a vase, candlesticks, and a curved mirror add plenty of charm.
Meg Young, founder of Cailini Coastal, echoes this sentiment. "Less is more," she says. "I really value simplicity in home decor, and a mantel is one of those areas that this sentiment holds true. If your mantel is covered in shiplap or has intricate wood detailing, you don't need a whole lot to dress it up."Continue to 9 of 51 below.
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Greenery looks fabulous on the mantel all year long, not just during the winter holidays! Dried greens make for an excellent way to add color to your space and pair wonderfully with warm hues, like those we see in the artwork displayed here. Young agrees. "Candles and fresh florals or greenery are always an instant way to liven up a space and a mantel," she says. "Opt for tall greens or branches."Continue to 10 of 51 below.
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Running out of room to store all of your novels? Go ahead and turn to the mantel. You don't have to be a bookworm to appreciate this cozy setup, though—your living room will feel like an old-timey library with a sweet touch like this one.Continue to 11 of 51 below.
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So Shabby Chic
Love shabby chic style? Embrace it in your space by incorporating a setup like this one, where antique picture frames are the name of the game. Layer several atop your mantel to create a unique display.Continue to 12 of 51 below.
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Oftentimes, the most ideal spot to hang a TV is over the mantel—but don't let that stop you from having a little decorating fun! You can still easily incorporate plants, pictures, and candles as we see above, all of which add personality to any space.Continue to 13 of 51 below.
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Show off your glassware collection by grouping a few favorite pieces on the mantel top—bonus points if they all fall within the same color family. This bud vase display is oh-so-sweet.Continue to 14 of 51 below.
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Ornate Mantel and Mirror
Celebrate coastal style by incorporating some nautical touches to your mantel. Anchor themed decor, wooden art, and of course, lots of coral, will do the trick. Arditi also appreciates decorating around a theme—to a degree. "Don't make it random," she advises. "Find objects and art that complement each other, but don't necessarily make it matchy-matchy."
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An oversized letter that honors your first initial or your family's last name can be the perfect personal touch to add to your mantel top. You could also spell out a word or phrase if you like. Craft stores make it easy to purchase letters in all finishes and sizes that you can display throughout the year.Continue to 16 of 51 below.
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Gold or brass figurines instantly make an impact—you don't need more than two to add some glam to your mantel top. Animal sculptures are always ultra trendy, too, and family members both young and old will appreciate them.
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Plant happy? Display a few green friends on the mantel—dangling leafy plants are fair game, too. And don't forget about cute pots and plant stands, if you have room. If you don't think you'll remember to keep your plant nice and hydrated, you may wish to purchase a faux version.Continue to 18 of 51 below.
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Go Nice and Bright
When it comes to artwork above the mantel, don't be afraid to go big or go home! An oversized abstract piece like the one shown above can add so much vibrance and personality to any living space. If you're creatively inclined, you could even try your hand at making your own jumbo artwork. The beauty of abstract pieces is that they're perfectly imperfect, so don't get overwhelmed if you have to improvise a little as you go.Continue to 19 of 51 below.
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Try an Eclectic Mix
There's nothing wrong with being a little eclectic when it comes to your mantel decor! Here, we see a candle, mirror, cactus, star sculpture, and even a miniature zebra. It's safe to say that this mantel is full of character.Continue to 20 of 51 below.
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Hang It Up
Hanging a garland isn't just for the winter season. A beaded one will look charming all year round and add a playful touch to your mantel. You can easily make your own if you like; all you need are some pretty beads and tassels. And once again, we see the power of monogram-like decor at work. Why not display a sign with your entire last name if you feel like it?Continue to 21 of 51 below.
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Add Bit of Olive
When in doubt, opt for olive branches. They're majorly en vogue and last a long time, too! And they're even more of a must if your decorating style leans farmhouse or rustic.Continue to 22 of 51 below.
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Display Some Artsy Accents
Why bother hanging a gallery wall when you can stylishly lean your favorite framed pieces atop the mantel? This is a great solution for those with an overflowing art collection who have run out of wall space, as well as for those who are less inclined to pound nail holes into the wall or enjoy changing up their artwork frequently.Continue to 23 of 51 below.
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There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned oversized clock to serve as decor! For those who are drawn to traditional or farmhouse style, a clock is an excellent way to throw it back to simpler times.Continue to 24 of 51 below.
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Bring on the Vintage Vibes
A vintage art print will add personality to any room and pairs wonderfully with a more antique style mantel, as we see here. Top off the look with some brass candlesticks and you're golden.Continue to 25 of 51 below.
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Show Off Some Pretty Pots
Help hide a large TV by surrounding it with a few pretty pieces of pottery. And yes, it's more than ok to utilize floor space to keep this setup going. "To create balance from floor to ceiling, consider accessorizing both the hearth and the mantel," designer Liza Kuhn advises. "Heavier accents like fireplace screens, tools, and decorative baskets are great foundation pieces for the hearth, while the mantel can be dressed with lighter accents like candles, books, and small vases."
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Keep it Luxe and Classic
One can never go wrong displaying a brass ornate mirror above a mantel. The bigger the better, especially if you're looking to recreate a dreamy Parisian space, so don't be afraid to think tall. "Adding a show-stopping mirror above the fireplace is one of my favorite ways to elevate your mantel decor," designer Danielle Chiprut notes. "Not only does a mirror pack a punch visually, it makes your room appear larger and brighter by bouncing light around it."Continue to 27 of 51 below.
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Smaller mirrors are fair game when it comes to mantel decorating, too, so don't be shy! "Consider the mantel the visage of the room," Kuhn comments. "Much like we dress our own faces with coordinating makeup and jewelry, the mantel is embellished with well-balanced accessories and decor."
Style a duo of mirrors beside a large piece of art and watch light flicker around the room.Continue to 28 of 51 below.
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Set Out That Page Turner
Turn books facing the opposite direction if you're looking for some textural accents that aren't too busy. All of the pieces displayed on this mantel are likely items you have on hand throughout the house—small art prints, a flower pot, and some greenery—making this look ultra easy to recreate.Continue to 29 of 51 below.
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Map It Out
Framed antique maps are always enjoyable to look at and are a great way showcase a love of history or a passion for a particular area of the world. Vary frame types and sizes for a show-stopping display.Continue to 30 of 51 below.
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Say Hello to Boho-Style Bliss
A fringed garland, wooden mirror, and windowpanes make for a perfect boho-style mantel setup. Layering is the name of the game!Continue to 31 of 51 below.
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Go on and Set Sail
A collection of ship figurines are perfectly at home on this mantel in Maine. If you're hoping to go beyond typical pieces like candlesticks and vases, think about your surroundings and how you can pay tribute to them in your styling.Continue to 32 of 51 below.
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Let's Hear it for Happy Hats
"If you want to give a simple refresh, you can revitalize an old mantel by painting it white and decorating simply," Arditi suggests. Here, straw hats look darling above this minimalist mantel and contrast perfectly with the white shiplap backdrop. A vase filled with sunflowers only makes the display look more cheery.Continue to 33 of 51 below.
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Let Sculptural Shapes Shine
Horn sculptures complement the dominant colors used in this space filled with wood and white tones and add height and intrigue to this mantel top—win-win.Continue to 34 of 51 below.
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Embrace Muted Magic
Sometimes muted hues are all you need to finish off a space. If you're looking to keep your living room looking sleek and simple, a dramatic abstract with gray and white tones is a smart solution. "A large sculpture or piece of artwork can do a lot for your space without overwhelming the mantel," explains Gina Silveri, procurement manager at Vertical Arts. "The sculpture is sure to draw the eye and add texture, while a piece of art can bring in multiple colors from the room into one cohesive piece."Continue to 35 of 51 below.
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Grab a Shell
Consider this a reason to go ahead and book that warm-weather vacation: One of the prettiest accent pieces can actually be found while strolling alongside the shore. "For a coastal touch, we love using a natural shell," Young comments. "Place on top of a stack of vintage blue books or decorative boxes for a subtle coastal nod."Continue to 36 of 51 below.
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Make Room for a Cherished Collection
Why display one clock when you can set out three? This setup adds instant vintage vibes and is full of charm and character. You could even set clocks to different time zones if you're looking to get creative (or just keep tabs on your favorite cities across the globe).Continue to 37 of 51 below.
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Just Layer It
You don't need to invest in gigantic art pieces if you prefer collecting a few smaller framed works and grouping them together. Arditi agrees. "Layering is always a good idea—I love leaning large pieces of art, and then mixing them with smaller objects in the front. This will create depth and dimension," she says. But she offers one quick tip: "Be careful not to over-layer, and make sure to give the pieces room to breathe. You always want pieces to stand out and not blend in together."Continue to 38 of 51 below.
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Baskets of all shapes, sizes, and styles make for fabulous decor when grouped together above the mantel. If you love to collect objects while traveling or at flea markets, make it a mission to build your basket arsenal that way. And you can never go wrong with displaying books or bottles, as we also see here. "If your mantel needs more to make it look filled, but not cluttered, try a vase with real or fake flowers, a stack of books with a plant on top and a grouping of candlesticks," Silveri suggests.Continue to 39 of 51 below.
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Welcome Familiar Faces
Grab those portraits and lean them on the mantel top—then ask guests to make up a story about each individual when they come over. Vintage portraits have a way of livening up a room immediately and are a classic decor must.Continue to 40 of 51 below.
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Live In a Wicker Wonderland
An assortment of wicker vessels adds textural interest to this mantel while contributing to the space's rustic style. Pair like with like and you can never go wrong when styling.Continue to 41 of 51 below.
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Get Plant Happy
Topiaries and small plants look delightful on this mantel and prove that simple green touches can liven up any area in no time. So go on and get plant happy!Continue to 42 of 51 below.
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Try a Pop of Blue
If you prefer a neutral look, you can still experiment a bit with pops of color in the form of practical pieces like ginger jars, which can double as vases. A bit of blue and white never hurt, after all. "Don't be afraid of open space," Kuhn shares. "It is tempting to fill the entire length of the mantel with accessories, but the most successful arrangements come when there is space between each decorative element. This allows each item to shine on its own, while ensuring that the fireplace as a whole doesn't look cluttered."
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Say Yes to Scholarly Chic
A globe atop a stack of books isn't just for the classroom, promise! Such a setup can look ultra stylish on a mantel and bring that old world look to your own living room. Stick with titles that all feature the same color so that your setup looks purposeful, not haphazard.Continue to 44 of 51 below.
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Prop a Pretty Plate
Prop a favorite plate up on a stand and let it serve as a piece of art. There's no reason that our favorite china has to hide away in our kitchen cabinets and only see the light of day once a year—let it become a permanent part of your home with this simple solution.Continue to 45 of 51 below.
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Modernize your mantel with geometric art prints and terracotta vases filled with pampas grass, all items that are majorly on trend as of late. This setup would be excellent for a boho style space and is super easy to DIY (the art is homemade!). "Decorating with natural accents such as tall branches or fluffy pampas adds just the right amount of drama to your mantel," Chiprut says. "I love the organic shapes and texture that these pieces bring to the design, it helps to balance out all of the harder elements used for decor."
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Be Matchy Matchy
We love the idea of matching your mantel decor to the art you have hanging—especially when the theme is florals. Two vases flank this vintage painting for a beautifully symmetrical setup, which is a no-fail. "If you don't like layering, creating symmetry is the most classic way to style a mantel," Arditi comments. Designer Kim Armstrong agrees. "A simple symmetrical design keeps you focused on the architecture of the mantel—which if done correctly, should really be the star of the show."Continue to 47 of 51 below.
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Tea for two, anyone? This adorable teacup display adds so much charm to the above mantel. There's no need to limit displaying colorful cups and saucers to the kitchen when they can bring lots of life to the living room! Plus, such styling is a winning choice, designers say. "Another key design element is the use of repetition," Armstrong explains. "A mantel is not a large area, and if you repeat similar objects in your design, that is a surefire way to help you create harmony on your mantel space."Continue to 48 of 51 below.
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Lean Into Lake Life
Celebrate your home's location by decorating your mantel with items that pay tribute to your surroundings. A lakeside home isn't complete without boat-themed accessories, for example.
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Style Your Heart Out
There's no reason you can't style the top of your mantel the way you would a shelf on one of your built-ins. Just add a stack or two of books, some colorful trinket dishes, and other favorite finds, and you're good to go.Continue to 50 of 51 below.
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Love That Little Lamp
Try a tiny lamp atop the mantel—both to brighten up your space and as a sweet piece of decor. Little lamps come in all colors and styles, so have fun choosing the one that speaks to you.Continue to 51 of 51 below.
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Designers love hanging the Samsung Frame TV above a mantel, as seen here. "I love the Samsung Frame, as it looks like a piece of art," Young comments. "There are hundreds of options for digital art to choose from, and you can change the look and feel of a room easily for each season."