How to decorate fireplace mantels

Written by karenna cochrane
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How to decorate fireplace mantels
A mantel is an ideal backdrop for your holiday family photo. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Make the most of an elegant asset like a fireplace by decorating the mantel for everyday enjoyment and of course, for holidays. Although how you decorate for daily life varies considerably from decorating for a special occasion, there are several decor items you can use for each mantel display. Invest in a few glass vases, bowls or other sturdy glassware. Add seasonally appropriate items to each vase as a simple, elegant mantel decor item. Keep candles and silver candle sticks for an added touch of elegance in every festive display.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rags
  • Cleaning fluid (for your particular kind of mantel -- use wood cleaner for wood, brick cleaner for brick)
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • Candlesticks (ideally, silver)
  • Assortment of glassware (bowls, vases and trays)
  • Mantel/table runners cut to your mantel size
  • Decorations (assorted, seasonal)

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  1. 1

    Clean and dry your mantel thoroughly. Make your mantel fresh before decorating it ensures your decorative display has a crisp backdrop. Mantels are made of many materials: brick, ceramic, wood and even stainless steel. Clean your brick mantel carefully with light soap (or brick cleaner, if you have it) and water; clean grooves with a toothbrush. Ceramic and wood can be cleaned with a gentle cleanser, water and a warm cloth. Stainless steel can be sprayed with window cleaner and wiped dry.

  2. 2

    Set up your everyday living display by laying a piece of fabric, often called a mantel runner, on the mantel. A mantel is typically narrower than a table, so if you do not have a mantel runner you can make one by tailoring a table runner to the width and length of the mantel. Lay silver candlesticks on the mantel and fill them with candles. Place several glass vases of varying sizes on the mantel. Fill each vase with dried or fresh flowers. Add several family photo frames to the display. This creation is for everyday living. Each item on the display is also functional: candles add elegance, the photo frames serve as conversation starters for dinner parties, and the flowers add warmth to the room.

    How to decorate fireplace mantels
    Everyday decorations can add much to a mantel's visual appeal. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  3. 3

    Having a mantel for the holiday season is something many people can only dream of. Take advantage of your mantel and deck the halls for the season. Lay a piece of felt on the mantel in a traditional colour such as red or green or in a modern holiday colour like white, and have this serve as the replacement for a mantel runner. Fill glass vases and bowls with assorted coloured ornaments. Add holiday-coloured candles to the silver candle holders. Finally, weave bows of holly through the display.

    How to decorate fireplace mantels
    The mantel can be a holiday focal point. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  4. 4

    Add a pink, red or white satin or lace mantel runner close to Valentine's Day. Keep your mantel appropriately styled with pink, white or red candles, and fill glass vases with rose petals or dried flowers. If you're living with kids, fill the glass vases with assorted Valentine's Day candy, such as candy hearts and jelly beans.

    How to decorate fireplace mantels
    String a birthday banner for your loved ones from one side of the mantel to another. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    String red, white and blue bunting from one side of the mantel to the other when you celebrate the Fourth of July. Keep the top of the mantel patriotic with red, white and blue candles. Spread an American flag on the wall above the mantel for a decorative frame.

Tips and warnings

  • Think quality, not quantity: Selecting a few pieces, including glassware and candles, as the primary design tools for the mantel ensures you don't stock up on unnecessary, trendy items for every occasion. Get creative and reuse items for other holidays and special events.

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