Do you ever wish you didn’t have a fireplace in your home, simply because it’s such a decorating mystery? A new mantel shelf could change your mind. It may not be the mantelpiece, but how to dress it up with inspiring wall decorating and accessories that is so confounding. The following tips will help you arrive at that perfect arrangement around your fireplace..
Furniture should acknowledge the presence of the fireplace, and never bar access to it. An easy furniture arrangement is a U shape, with the fireplace at the top of the U. Though the fireplace is the focal point, you don’t have to point every piece of furniture toward it. For instance, you can place wing back chairs on either side of a fireplace, facing into the room at a diagonal. Place an occasional table in between for cozy fireside reading and board games. Position a small couch and loveseat opposite each other and perpendicular to the fireplace. In a small room, place a flat screen television over the fireplace mantel.
A peek inside an interior decorating book at wall décor around fireplaces will affirm the many ways pictures or art can be displayed on a wall. But not every arrangement and wall decorating idea is pleasing to the eye. For those of us who are not designers, here are a few suggestions:
The simplest solution is a single, large framed work of art, a print, or photo. Center it slightly toward the mantel.
Position equally sized framed pictures close together to form a larger shape.
Hang a decorative wall mirror in a frame that complements the motif.
Install decorative wall sconces on either side of the mantel to set off framed art.
Line the fireplace mantel shelf with framed black and white photos of different sizes, with the unifying factor of a single color frame.
Before you bedeck your fireplace mantel, consider what you want to show off, and the impression you want to give. Since the fireplace is your focal point, what do you want visitors to see? What do you want to enjoy looking at day after day?
Your fireplace mantel should also reflect the general feel of the room. Is it:
Formal? Consider candlesticks, vases, a mantel clock, and brass wall sconces.
Lived-in-casual? Use natural, eclectic elements like fresh flowers, a silk topiary, or drift wood. Incorporate glass in a less formal vein with lanterns, a clock under a glass dome, or a collection of antique bottles. Wrought iron wall sconces add a valuable grounding color for neutral palettes and highlight any wall decorating display above the mantel.
Victorian? The Victorians were fond of their collections. Feel free to busy up your mantel with a doily runner, figurines, decorative plates, and perhaps a vase with peacock feathers.
Minimalist? Place a single sculpture, either centered on the mantel or on a side of the mantel that faces a corner while the other is open.
Cottage-by-the-beach? Arrange a collection of similar colored but varying sized shells across the mantel. Or select items you treasure, like a jar of sea glass or a cast iron anchor.
Follow the 3 plus 1 rule for easy mantel displays: Place 3 similar items close to one end, and one larger item on the other (as large as the collective 3, but no taller than the center of the picture or mirror over the mantel). Another easy arrangement is to place one item in the center of the mantel, and flank it with pairs of items on either side. One of the pairs can be similar, but not identical.
Don’t feel bound by rules when arranging your fireplace mantel. Experiment with some wall decorating ideas and arrangements and layer items so they overlap. The analytical mind will prefer symmetry, and the creative eye will prefer asymmetry. Both types need some sort of balance, so play with the items until you are satisfied. If you are ever in doubt, it is better to err on the side of simplicity. Begin with an interesting mantel wall art piece, and build around it.
A fireplace is an enviable architectural detail in any home. Properly adorned with a suitable mantelpiece, wall décor, and other accouterments around it, your fireplace will become a magnificent focal point and a favorite gathering spot in your home for family and friends.