Ideas for what to put on a fireplace mantel

Updated April 17, 2017

An empty fireplace mantel can leave a room feeling stark and boring. Placing a few items on the mantel can add warmth and character to the entire room. Although there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing items for the mantel, you must consider the size of the mantel, anything hanging above the fireplace and the decor of the rest of the room.

Foliage and Candles

Decorate your mantel with a large flat planter full of lush artificial greenery paired with tall candlesticks. Choose a planter in a metallic finish that matches the decor of the room. For instance, if your fireplace accessories are brass, choose a brass planter. Pick a planter wide enough to fill the centre of the mantel. Greenery should be full and lush, standing a few inches taller than the planter. On either end of the mantel, place tall candlesticks or pillar holders with coloured candles. Since the planter is metallic, avoid candle holders with metallic finishes and choose crystal, wood or ceramic instead.


Whether they are family photos, vacation photos or scenic shots, photos can easily personalise the fireplace mantel. For a symmetrical, clean look, choose frames that are identical in colour, style and size arrange the frames on the mantel equally spaced apart. For an asymmetrical look, choose photos in several sizes and a different frame for each photo. Arrange the frames on the mantel, staggering the heights. Add small votive candles or decorative accents between the frames if you like.

Mirror or Artwork

Choose a large mirror or piece of artwork that complements the existing decor of the room and place it directly on the mantel. When selecting the piece, consider the width of the mantel as well as the height of the wall above the fireplace. Center the piece on the mantel and place a pair of matching vases, figurines or topiaries on either end. The items do not have to be identical, but they should be the same size so they appear balanced.

Seasonal Items

Decorate the fireplace mantel for the seasons or holidays. Choose a mix of seasonal items, including a floral centrepiece, candles and several decorative items such as ceramic figurines for your display. Use candlesticks that will match any holiday decor and change the candles for each holiday.

Collection Display

Display a collection of items such as glass apothecary jars, retro coloured glass bottles, wooden figurines or decorative boxes on the mantel. You can use several identical items, or choose items that are similar in design but have different colours, shapes and sizes. For instance, glass bottles come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Rather than purchasing items to display, you might have a collection of items you are already fond of, such as figurines, crystal pieces or trip souvenirs.

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About the Author

Mary Ellen Popolo began writing freelance articles online in 1998. She has published numerous how-to articles specializing in home and family and many other topics.