The mantel is the centerpiece of the home, the focal point of the living area, and the culmination of home décor.  No pressure. Because this area of the room is of upmost importance, most of us have trouble pulling everything together to create just the right look.

Copying mantel ideas off of Pinterest or the pages of Good Housekeeping is one way to create a cohesive look, but you can decorate a mantel using the items you already have by following a few simple tips from the pros.

Decorating a mantel correctly is somewhat of a science and once you get the formula correct, you have yourself a work of art. Throwing items on a mantel won’t create the look you are going for, you have to have the right item in the right space, but it’s easier than you think.


It starts with the triangle. Imagine a large triangle that sits on your mantel. The center of the triangle is the highest point, anywhere from 3-4 feet above the mantel itself. Either side of the triangle may reach all the way to the mantel edge, or may sit 8-12 inches in from each side. This imaginary triangle gives you the framework for décor that will look best in the space.


Focal Point

The first piece for any mantel is the focal point. This is a large centerpiece item that reaches the top of the triangle and fills nearly the entire shape. It shouldn’t reach to each end, but should be large enough to fill the middle of the space. Clocks, mirrors, and family portraits are common focal points. If your mantel is deep, this piece can sit on the mantel itself, otherwise it is going to need to be hung on the wall.




Next, you have anchors, which sit on either side of the triangle. They should include some element of visual weight, movement, texture, color, and height. Candlesticks, vases, pillars, and other décor elements work well for anchors. The anchors should be shorter than the focal point, to keep the overall triangle shape, but don’t have to be identical.


At the base of the triangle is the perfect spot for fillers, picture frames, mementos, knick knacks and the like. This is where you can also add fillers like floral stems, garlands, or banner. The bottom of the triangle should not out-balance the top, but should create a nice foundation for the entire look.

Your mantle décor can fill the entire space, with a large anchor, substantial weights, and overstuffed fillers, or it can be more simple and symmetrical. Whatever fits your style can be pulled together for a cohesive and beautiful look.


Learn how to decorate any mantel for your home. Great tips on placement and sizes of objects!