Styling a mantle is not overly hard. Sometimes it may take a few trial and errors, but as long as you keep these tips and tricks in mind, your mantle will turn out beautiful no matter how you decide to style it.
Here are few rules to consider:
The items displayed should obviously match the décor in your room, but they do not have to be perfectly matched. Using objects in various shades of colors in your room and/or adding neutral colored items can give the space more depth.
Adding items of various textures creates visual interest and diversity to your mantle. Consider adding items like patterned vases and frames, mixed metals, organic elements like branches or greenery, finials, and candles.
Creating balance is similar to using a weighted scale. If you place a large item on the right of the mantle, then you need to visually balance it out with another item on the left. For example, if the item on the right is tall and wide, then you should balance the left side out with a long and low item (or group of items).
While you could perfectly balance the layout in a traditional symmetrical arrangement - where every item on one side of the mantle is mirrored on the other side – I prefer asymmetrical looks of height, with one side higher and the other lower. This look tends to be more interesting and dynamic.
Also use groups of odd numbered objects. This work best when it comes to styling in general, unless you are styling a symmetrical look like a pair of topiaries or sconces. Also remember to balance the colors, materials, and textures. You do not want all items of the same size, texture, color, etc. grouped on one side of the mantle.
The visual triangle is one option to create an aesthetically pleasing arrangement that defines balance and cohesion among a group of objects. You simply arrange your items in a way that visually creates a triangle. You can have one large triangle arrangement on the mantle, or a series of smaller triangle arrangements. A common use of the visual triangle is to put a triangle grouping at each end of the mantle with a large anchor element in the middle.
Stacking items is another visual technique that brings interest to a vignette. Stacking looks best when you start with flat items like a tray and/or books, and then place a contrasting item on top of it like a round vase or organic shaped sculpture.
Layering various items like mirrors, trays, photos, or framed artwork vertically in front of each other is a great way to create an engaging mantle. Experiment with different sizes, shapes, and textures until you find a combination you like.
An anchor is a large element that visually grounds a group of smaller items. The large item helps to balance out the smaller objects around it by visually connecting them to each other. A large mirror, old window, huge vase, large artwork or framed photo work well as anchors. If you use large artwork, don’t lean it. Instead hang it about 4” above the mantle. Also, if you have a big mirror elsewhere in the room, use art above the mantle. And vice versa.
If you have to hang your TV above the mantle, stick to something simple so it doesn’t block the view. Either a pair of tall skinny items flanking the TV or a row of low smaller items underneath the TV.
Using as many personal items - like a photo you took, a memento from a special occasion, travel souvenirs, etc. - as you can not only creates a story you can tell about each item, but also serves as a reminder of a special memory every time you walk into the room.
Styling your mantle does not have to be expensive. Shop within your home for items you already own. Shopping at thrift and consignment stores and giving new life to items is another budget-and eco-friendly way to style your mantle.
Stay tuned for the final reveal of how we styled this mantle. In the meantime, here are some inspirational vignettes of how you too can transform your mantle from drab to fab. Sources are also provided in case you are interested in purchasing any of these items for your own mantle. (Note: I am not affiliated or compensated by any of these companies to endorse any of these products)