20 Great Fireplace Mantel Decorating Ideas


fireplace mantel decorating ideas

source unknown (love how you barely even notice the TV! brilliant!)

Remember the professor that I had at the New York School of Interior Design?

Mrs. E? You can read the story here, but if you don’t feel like it, you may recall that she accused me of “improvising” my fireplace mantel decor. My response some 25 years later is…

soooooooooooo??? Oh, and I had actually put a LAMP on my mantel. She crucified me for that one. I am here to tell you, that I think that lamps on a mantel are way cool (as long as the mantel shelf is deep enough) as are sconces– an enduring classic and actually anything that you want to put up there… but…

Ideally, it should make sense within the decor of the room. Minimal room. minimal mantel. Crazy, quirky room. Crazy, quirky mantel.


(Sorry, I had the source for this, but lost it, but it’s someone English. [I know that’s extremely lame, but it’s getting late]. This was actually one of the more tame rooms in the home! There’s a part of me that kinda likes this because it’s real and feels very personal and that to me, is a wonderful home! But yes, even so, that mantel is a bit too much, I think!)

Well, you get it. However, especially since the fireplace is usually the focal point of the room, there are some principles which I think will help you. If you heed these it will hopefully not make you feel like you are “improvising” when it comes to decorating your fireplace mantel.

fireplace mantel decorating ideas

  • it’s not brain surgery– display what you love!
  • but do not over-crowd!


some layering is good, but this is over-kill! No?


too much going on here and too much stuff. (although, a lot of it, I love!) The clock doesn’t work either, IMO

  • do not make overly symmetrical


  • do not over-mix materials, such as glass, with pewter, with gold, with driftwood, with porcelain
  • less is always more
  • one fabulous mirror might be all you need
  • or one fabulous painting might be all you need
  • or one fabulous TV :]
  • OR maybe the mouldings will be so incredible, that you won’t need anything else! (except lighting, of course!)

I did not credit those images  (above) because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. These are only my opinions and if you like the way they look, that is fine. (If other photos below are uncredited it is because I could not find the original source.)

Alright… here are my do’s  and some wonderful fireplace mantel designs!



Here is one of my all-time favorite rooms. Everything about it is sheer perfection. It is the work of the incredible Alexa Hampton who has really come into her own in the last few years. If you don’t already know, she’s the daughter of the legendary, late Mark Hampton. Obviously, she inherited every ounce of his enormous talent!

20131128101523721Gil Schaefer

No need to gild this lily!

fireplace mantel decorating ideas

This room is by Sarah Richardson, a Canadian Designer who you may have seen on HGTV.  I love her rooms! They are always fresh, inspired, rooted in tradition, but with a slight twist which makes them very interesting. I love all of the architectural detailing and that she left the mantel largely bare. Perfect!

Bernan House_hunterbarnes2

Fabulous room by  Hunter Barnes (sorry, I could only find their twitter feed)

Bernan House_hunterbarnes

I adore mercury glass!


and Venetian Mirrors!


Detail and room above by one of the best there is, the  McGill Design Group


DIY-Accent-Wall-Anne Decocco Design

Anne Decocco



***Lamps on the Mantel***

fireplace mantel Jessica Goranson in Lonny magJessica Goranson via Lonny

Lovely styling with just enough layering


Love, love, love the murals and the simplicity of her mantel design by  Phoebe Howard


Lonny Magazine

I love the mirror built into the mouldings and the entire feel of this sophisticated space.

Carmody Groarke architects

Modern living room with one smashing piece over the fireplace by Charlie and Bunny Turner and Carmody Groarke Architects


Dujardin Design

A bit of whimsy is always a nice touch.

Lonny Magazine

Simple, clean and fresh. It reminds me of San Francisco, for some reason.


Michael S. Smith

Alright, I confess… the antlers might be growing on me. I dunno. I never use them, however, I don’t mind them here. I adore everything that Michael Smith does. He’s a true genius!

Alexandra and Michael Misczynski

The team of Alexandra and Michael Misczynski are not only the most brilliant designers, but cleverly call themselves, Atelier AM

fireplace mantel decorating ideas

Victoria Hagan

Another gorgeous Victoria Hagan design. Love the fireplace and the stone! oh, while I’m thinking of it. You know those awful, cheap, shiny brass thingy inserts you see so often? Ya know with the tacky doors that turn brown? Well, you can yank all that out!


This is one of my most popular pins on pinterest by Leta Austin Foster


New England Home Magazine  Fresh modern-traditional-New England style living room.

For more terrific fireplace mantel decorating ideas please click here, here, here, and here.

Well… that’s all for now… Can’t wait to dig my car outta the snow—- again. :/




5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Oskar - June 26, 2017 - 9:02 AM

    Hi, great post, thank you for sharing all these great ideasReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 26, 2017 - 5:00 PM

      Hi Oskar,

      We removed the link to your website. Other bloggers, designers, design enthusiasts and vendors who bring meaningful comments to the conversation may link to their website/blogs. Otherwise, no. Thank you for your understanding.ReplyCancel

  • Doug Smith - June 8, 2017 - 5:30 PM

    Greetings, I wonder if you could help me with a problem. I have a red brick fireplace that is 71″wide X 52″high, and my ceiling is only 96″ high. This heavy mass ascending more than half way up my wall creates an imbalance. Any ideas on what I might do to better proportion the area above the mantel so that it is balanced with all this mass below?Thank you for any insight.
    Doug M SmithReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 8, 2017 - 5:58 PM

      In answer to your first question, the answer is no. Comments are intended to discuss the blog posts. We cannot help with individual problems that we cannot see and are not being paid to counsel on. And at this time, we are not doing any interior design consultations. Thank you for your understanding. ReplyCancel

  • Deedee Lewis - January 18, 2017 - 5:08 PM

    I also love all of the architectural detailing of the room designed by Sarah Richardson. The idea of having an eye-catching painting above the fireplace mantel seems intriguing. I will have to share these photos with my husband since we are in the process of redesigning our own fireplace mantel.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 18, 2017 - 10:02 PM

      Hi Deedee,

      I love that room too! Thanks for stopping by.ReplyCancel

  • Scotty - May 27, 2016 - 10:14 PM

    I adore the character in the second photo! So homely. 🙂

  • Scotty - May 24, 2016 - 6:45 AM

    The design by Alexa Hampton is amazing! The fireplace and the books are exactly how I’d like the setup in my house to be! Keep posting 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Betty - May 14, 2016 - 9:46 AM

    I love, love, love the Michael S Smith room. It makes me want to curl up with a book, hot steaming cup of coffee, a cashmere wrap with my feet curled up under me … sigh.ReplyCancel

  • Mia - January 18, 2016 - 6:41 AM

    Bold, bright and in your face!

    I love the designs! I do love getting ideas from Pinterest like yourself 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 18, 2016 - 1:06 PM

      Hi Mia,

      I LOVE pinterest! It’s not only great for photos, it’s been a wonderful FREE marketing tool for my business!ReplyCancel

  • TRADITIONAL BEAMS - November 17, 2015 - 6:22 AM

    Thanks for share it. I like your Blog very much. We are one of the leading suppliers of oak fireplace beams and shelves.ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - April 23, 2015 - 7:07 PM

    Hi Rosanne,

    Well, maybe you can tell… I’m not a fan of brick. It’s fine on the outside of a home. And 99% of the time, I think it should be painted. Actually, I prefer it painted on the outside too. If not painted, then the worst one can do is go too pale on the walls. In fact, a color similar to the brick would be very nice. If not that, then a deepish sage green also looks nice. It also looks nice to paint the fireplace the same color as the walls.ReplyCancel

    • Rosanne Menacker - April 24, 2015 - 6:52 PM

      Thanks so much. I was on the fence even though I hate the red brick. I’ll be researching white washing…there is a Swedish company I’m interested in..available in the U.S. Apparently one has to white wash twice a year because you cannot clean it. It is so beautiful that I think it is worth it! You rock Laurel!ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - April 25, 2015 - 2:35 AM

        Hi Rosanne,
        I know… I go through this all the time with clients. And the same thing with old paneled rooms. Just Paint It. No one has ever regretted it. The Swedish paint sounds cool. Do you know Annie Sloan Chalk Paint? It’s very cool and versatile.ReplyCancel

  • Rosanne Menacker - April 23, 2015 - 6:42 PM

    can I ask how you feel about red brick fireplaces? Paint or not… Especially if you are selling soon. I love your blog so much and have learned so much. Always appreciate every tidbit of advice!ReplyCancel

  • Tina Becker - August 23, 2014 - 2:53 PM

    Your ideas for decorating fireplace mantels are brillant! I love how each fireplace mantel has a timeless beauty about it. I agree with you when you say that some mantels have enough architectural charm that you don’t want to over do it with the decorations. This is so important! Be creative and have fun but be sure your decorative elements accentuate the natural design of the mantelpiece. I specialize in custom fireplace mantels and would love to share more about my collection with you: http://www.customfiremantels.com/mantels/ReplyCancel

  • Loi Thai - Tone on Tone - February 5, 2014 - 5:57 PM

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! Mantels are so fun to style. In Maine, our mantel shelves are all very shallow – from 4″ to 6″ max. It’s going to be a challenge so we’ll see. Wonderful post, Laurel!ReplyCancel