51 Mantel Decor Ideas and Tips from Experts

Living room with fireplace and wooden mantel with brown decor

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

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.
  • 01 of 51

    Floral Flair

    flower vases on mantel

    MJG Interiors

    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!

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    It's Lit

    pillar candle display


    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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    Precious Portrait

    portrait of man on mantel

    Geneva Hines

    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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  • 04 of 51

    Flower Power

    botanical prints on mantel

    Angela Lloyd

    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!

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    Dainty Doily

    doily on mantel

    Shamara Latham

    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!

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  • 06 of 51

    Plant Party

    plant pots on mantel


    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.


    When you have several items on a mantel, it's a good idea to layer items in front of each other. Layering creates depth, and that's important in every kind of vignette or display. Make sure that the items connect to each other in some way—be it through color, material, or theme.

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    Pick Two

    artwork and mirror

    Marcessa Terry

    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.

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  • 08 of 51

    Minimal Touches

    board and batten mantel

    Julie Ciampa Design

    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."

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  • 09 of 51

    Green Scene

    dried greenery on mantel


    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."

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  • 10 of 51

    Little Library

    vintage books on mantel


    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.

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    So Shabby Chic

    shabby chic mantel


    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.

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  • 12 of 51

    TV Time

    TV over mantel


    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.

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  • 13 of 51

    Go Glassy

    bud vase grouping on mantel

    Melea Markell

    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.

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    Ornate Mantel and Mirror

    coastal mantel

    Hannah Stevens Christopher

    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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    Monogram It

    monogrammed mantel decor


    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.

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    Go Gold

    gold figurines on mantel

    Kelly Collier-Clark

    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 It

    plants on mantel

    Laquita Tate

    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.


    A collection of like items is a great way to fill a mantel and create a visually pleasing display. Vases are a perfect example, as they're close in color and size but vary enough in shape to create visual interest.

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    Go Nice and Bright

    abstract art above mantel


    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.

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    Try an Eclectic Mix

    eclectic mantel


    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.

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    Hang It Up

    garland on mantel

    Christian Mulkey

    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?

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    Add Bit of Olive

    olive branches on mantel

    Patrice Stephens

    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.

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  • 22 of 51

    Display Some Artsy Accents

    gallery wall on mantel


    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.

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    Tick Tock

    clock above mantel

    Courtney FitzPatrick

    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.

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    Bring on the Vintage Vibes

    vintage floral print

    Anna May

    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.

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    Show Off Some Pretty Pots

    pottery by tv over mantel

    Doris Roberts

    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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  • 26 of 51

    Keep it Luxe and Classic

    gold parisian mirror on mantel

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    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."

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    Think Tiny

    smaller mirrors by artwork on mantel

    Amhad Freeman Interiors

    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.

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  • 28 of 51

    Set Out That Page Turner

    books stacked on mantel


    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.

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  • 29 of 51

    Map It Out

    framed antique maps


    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.

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    Say Hello to Boho-Style Bliss

    mantel with boho decor

    Samantha Sullivan

    A fringed garland, wooden mirror, and windowpanes make for a perfect boho-style mantel setup. Layering is the name of the game!

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    Go on and Set Sail

    nautical mantel with ships


    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.

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    Let's Hear it for Happy Hats

    hats hanging above mantel


    "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.

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    Let Sculptural Shapes Shine

    horn decor on mantel

    Jenn Pablo Studio

    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.

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    Embrace Muted Magic

    abstract art above mantel

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    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."

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    Grab a Shell

    coastal mantel setup

    Molly Rose Photo for Cailini Coastal

    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."

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    Make Room for a Cherished Collection

    vintage clocks on mantel


    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).

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    Just Layer It

    smaller artwork on mantel

    Kristen Gonzalez

    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."

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  • 38 of 51

    Basket Case

    hanging baskets above mantel


    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.

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    Welcome Familiar Faces

    vintage portraits on mantel

    Leanne von Arx

    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.

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    Live In a Wicker Wonderland

    wicker vessels


    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.

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    Get Plant Happy

    small plants on mantel


    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!

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    Try a Pop of Blue

    simple mantel decor

    Jas Shoker

    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

    globe and books on mantel

    Haneen Matt

    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.

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    Prop a Pretty Plate

    porcelain plate on stand

    Rhonda Vineyard

    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.

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    Think Terracotta

    boho style mantel


    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

    mantel with floral decor


    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."

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    Terrific Teacups

    tea cup display on mantel

    Sara and Lilly

    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." 

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    Lean Into Lake Life

    paddle themed decor


    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

    shelf-like mantel


    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.

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    Love That Little Lamp

    small lamp on mantel

    Hattie Kolp

    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.

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    Frame It

    frame TV above mantel

    Louis Duncan-He

    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."