7 Tips for Styling a Mantel

On today’s Wednesday Blog Day! I’ve enlisted the help of interior designer Joanna Carden’s professional interior design skill. Today she taught me 7 tips for styling a mantel! Read on for her expert styling tips below! – Christine

A fireplace tends to be the focal point of a living room, but too often it’s left untouched or is simply underwhelming and blends into the background. Don’t let this tragic waste of space happen to you.

These tips are incredibly easy to execute on, and you can probably find many of the pieces I’ll suggest around your house already. Also, keep in mind that there are innumerable ways to style your mantel—I haven’t been granted any universal style rule-making authority yet. But, hopefully you can mix my tips with your own personal style to create something unique and completely you.

Fair warning: I often prefer an eclectically-styled mantel. This way, you get a variety of different tones, textures, and colors; something that is cohesive and not overwhelming. It’s also my favorite excuse to use my favorite accent pieces, whether they are new or a family heirloom, to make it a little more personal.

Without further adieu, here are my tips for styling your mantel!

1. Anchor piece – Use an anchor piece 2/3rds the size of the mantel. Actually, you can reliably use that rule for almost anything you decorate. Christine’s gorgeous art was perfect for the mantel in my house, so that will be my example! It’s tall, so we’ll layer it with another piece in a minute to help even it out. Remember to place the anchor piece in the middle, but a little off center. It helps the mantel feel balanced and not heavy towards one side when you’re layering.

2. Layering art – Layer art that’s proportional to the anchor piece. If it’s too large, it will be overwhelming to the anchor piece. If it’s too small, it will blend in. Layer it to the side just enough to create a horizontal balance. And then, of course, step back and take a look to see how it feels!

3. Horizontal lines – Pay attention to horizontal and vertical lines. Horizontal lines give your eyes a soft jump to the vertical pieces. Both horizontal and vertical lines help create depth for your eyes and ensure everything seems cohesive. By adding a few books on the sides, you can create those horizontal lines. Then, add taper candlesticks in your favorite candlestick holders to create height.

4. Contrast/Tones – Try to always bring contrasting colors together. I love muted, light, and white tones, but I also always attempt to bring in warm and darker tones to contrast. Since they’re so many lighter pieces, the wooden, sculptural accent and dark vase help bring a little contrast to the mantel.

5. Sculptural accents – Bring in sculptural pieces to add visual interest. The wooden piece adds tone, sculpture, and height. Place it wherever there is negative space. I like to layer it in front of the art or anchor piece. I also love adding a few little pieces like this white glass knot paperweight.

6.Odd numbers – Always use odd numbers. I usually go for 5-7 pieces. The ‘rule’ is an odd number of items are usually more appealing to the eye. The books count as one, both candlesticks count as one, etc.

7. SizingAll of your pieces should be proportional. This is a corollary to Tip #4. If everything is tiny or everything is large, your eyes won’t know where to look and you’ll tend to ignore it all together. Mix them up to contrast! Tiny pieces are just as important as your large anchor piece in giving your mantel some personality. I love my small accent pieces.

I hope these tips will help you build beautiful spaces in your home. Please, please, please feel free to share how you’ve styled your mantel with one of Christine’s paintings, or whichever space where you choose to apply these tips. We’d both would love to see! Don’t forget to check out Christine’s paintings and prints to help start your styling process.



  1. Oh my goodness this is adorable and I LOVE all the tips. I adore interior design and find myself rearranging things all the time. Especially as an artist myself, the possibilities are endless. But this was so helpful to me. Also, I believe we have a mutual dear friend – Betsy! How fun to finally “meet” you….I’ve heard so many wonderful things about you, Christine. 🙂 Your art is stunning.

Leave a Comment