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It Is Officially Fall, After All...

7 Fireplace & Mantel Decor Combos for Every Style

Emily Henderson Fireplace & Mantel Styling Ideas
Photo by David Tsay | From: Mantel Styling Tips

***Written by Lauren Taylor

Growing up, my family routinely decorated for the fall and winter holidays, so come October, the inevitable who’s-gonna-climb-into-the-attic-and-get-the-Halloween-decorations-down conversation would come to light. This was a task that almost always fell on my Dad, but we had the conversation nonetheless. If for no other reason than to use as a scare tactic against my brother and me, like “you better do your homework or you’ll have to go in the attic” which is a serious threat to children, as it’s common knowledge that all attics are filled with mold, spiders, the zombie from Hocus Pocus, and all the horrifying scenes from scary PG-13 movie trailers (or at the very least, a few scenes out of Are You Afraid of the Dark?).

But well before the holidays showed up, and before the holiday decorating was underway, (and even before the talks of climbing into attics had begun), there was special attention paid to the fireplace. I don’t know that my mom planned it this way so much as her eyes naturally turned to the fire, the moment the temperatures dipped in September. It was as if we had ignored the mantle and all it’s working parts for the better part of the summer, and then in a flash, our living room became a parade of candles, twigs, strange objects, and frames of all sizes.

Year after year, I would sit on the sofa, watching in awe, as she placed objects, one after the other. Tall, short, geometric, abstract, up and down, up and down, until she decided her work was complete. Every year, our fireplace looked just a little bit different. One year she even went so far as to paint the red brick white. A decision she belabored for months before finally committing <“You know you can’t go back once it’s painted” she said, over and over “But the red brick is super ugly” I said… And then a few years later, she had sheetrock put in which she promptly painted…“white” “No, Lauren, it’s cream.” “Mom, it’s white.” And then many years later, she just went wild and gutted the whole thing. Our fireplace then became a rare stone masterpiece wrapped in a custom gray-painted wood frame “Purple” “No, Lauren, it’s painted grey.” “Mom, it’s like, purple with maybe a hint of gray.”

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Emily Henderson Mantel Styling Ideas
Photo by Zeke Ruelas | From: Silver Lake Hills Living Room Reveal

…Hold on, I need to call my mom and apologize…

Emily Henderson Mantel Styling Ideas
Photo by Zeke Ruelas | From: Silver Lake Hills Living Room Reveal

Ok. I’m back. She still loves me.

My whole point here is that she’s not alone. Many of us turn to our fireplaces once we realize fall is approaching, or (as with our current case) has already crossed the threshold. So it’s time to shake things up a bit and beautify that warming focal point for the cool seasons to come. Below are a few ideas to help you get inspired with your own parade of fireplace decor.

Emily Henderson Mantel Styling Ideas
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Sara’s Living Room Reveal

But first, this wouldn’t be an EHD-approved roundup without a bit of advice and some “rules.” When creating a vignette atop your mantle, remember this phrase: Something tall, something short, something shiny, something dull. Oh yeah, and something “organic”. We need not only a balance of heights but a balance of textures to create interest. And be sure to stick to odd numbers. For example: If you wind up with four things on the mantle, you probably need to add one more (five) or remove one thing (three). It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s usually right. Okay, that wasn’t so hard, right? By all means, go rogue, but if this is your first go ’round on the fireplace decorating circuit, this is a good place to start (and stop if you’re happy with what you cook up).

Now, let’s dive into the combos we came up with: seven styles all with the same relative elements. Our basic formula here was lighting, focal point, mantel decor, fireplace accessories, textiles where applicable and a place to perch in front of the fire. Each fits the tall/short/shiny/dull recipe, you just need to add in the “organic” bit. Be it flower clippings, greenery (like the wispy vine in the lead photo of this post). It breaks up the structure of solid pieces, making things feel more personal and livable. Another note: let’s say you don’t have a functional fireplace…just something more decorative. Try filling the inside with pillar candles, or even just birch logs or firewood in a log holder to fake it ’til you make it.

Alright, let’s dig into these combos, shall we?

Okay, let’s start with the most cozy, fall-inspired combo: what we’re calling traditional lodge. Most of us have visited a lodge or two in our lifetimes, and the percentage of those lodges that were styled right are approximately 3% of the lodge population (I made up that statistic, but I took stats in college so you can trust my numbers). This vignette plays to all my favorite things that create a traditional lodge: rich, dark woods, cozy wool blankets, old prints, and a healthy balance of shiny glass and metallics with matte blacks.

1. Sconce | 2. Framed Barn Painting | 3. Sconce | 4. Brass Hurricanes | 5. Stool | 6. Wood Basket  | 7. Fireplace Screen | 8. Fireplace Tool Set | 9. Throw Blanket | 10. Copper Ash Bucket

When I think of farmhouse decor, I either think of Joanna Gaines’ designs on Fixer Upper, or my mind spins straight to rooster wallpaper and checkered tablecloths. But, as with any style, the farmhouse look is dynamic and much more flexible if we just allow our minds to play around a bit. Here, we stuck to a black and white/neutrals theme (it’s almost like farmhouse minimalist! Did I just make that up?). The landscape diptych brings in some “nature” and sets off the rest of the peaceful, comforting look. Loose white candles set the mood, and an organic stump stool plays off the firewood and gives you a place to sit after a long day of tending to your cattle puppy.

1. Sconce | 2. Framed Diptych | 3. Sconce | 4. Candles | 5. Decorative Apple | 6. Pitcher | 7. Stool | 8. Log Holder | 9. Fireplace Screen | 10. Fireplace Tool Set | 11. Throw Blanket | 12. Basket

Mid-century modern has been such a buzz word (buzz phrase?) for about, um, a decade now, and why not? It’s a killer throwback, but I don’t commonly find that going 100% MCM is palatable for most homes. However, with a bit of consideration, you can easily add pieces of the look and balance it out with your dominant style. This MCM mirror had me at OH HELLO, so naturally, the rest of the design was built around it. Bubble sconces are funky and fun, the screen feels a bit Art Deco but it still totally works, and brass and camel accents phone this combo in with a fresh spin. And just like that, we have a perfectly blended MCM look.

1. Sconce | 2. Mirror | 3. Sconce | 4. Candelabra | 5. Fireplace Screen | 6. Two-Toned Bud Vase | 7. Faceted Blue Vase | 8. Wood and Brass Stool | 9. Log Holder | 10. Throw Blanket | 11. Fireplace Tool Set

I’m not sure when it happened, but the whole Scandinavian thing grabbed hold of the Internet and was like “YOU WILL LOVE ME!” and we were like “OKAY, I LOVE YOU!” and now we’re all running around looking for white oak, white finishes, and hints of soft color (well, maybe not Arlyn). Something about the simple, light lines (in both color, and stature) offers such a welcomed, calming sensation to the viewer. While I have many favorites in this combo (i.e. the blue print and the artful sconce), it was the log rack, of all things, that really inspired me. The design is simple, attractive, and highly functional—three things of great value to anyone in the process of decorating.

1. Tall Wood Candle Holder | 2. Short Wood Candle Holder | 3. Brass Snuffer | 4. Blue Abstract Art | 5. Black-and-White Geometric Art | 6. Sconce | 7. Two-Toned Vase | 8. Rocker | 9. Log Holder | 10. Throw Blanket | 11. Basket

You have great style, but you don’t need to SCREAM IT at everyone who walks by your mantle: you’re an artsy minimalist that leans into the whole California casual vibe. You know that using a couple abstract paintings layered over one another creates interest and an entirely new (and distinctly styled) look, for the art pieces. Insert narrow candlesticks, organic vases, and an architectural log holder and Ta Da! Signed, Le Artiste (ahem, that’s you).

1. Sconce | 2. Blue Abstract Art | 3. Neutral Abstract Art | 4. Sconce | 5. Candlesticks | 6. Brown Vase | 7. White Vase | 8. Round Log Holder | 9. Fireplace Screen | 10. Fireplace Tool Set | 11. Wood Stool | 12. Throw Blanket

The rich, romantic vibe of modern victorian (which team EHD originally introduced you to with all the accoutrements back in this post) is something we couldn’t resist styling around the fireplace. The trick is mixing old with new, or at least things that look old with things that look new. While I wish this ornate gilded mirror was actually vintage, it still achieves a luxe yet lived-in vibe. It also sets the stage for some shiny and new objects, like this dramatic urn and velvet lounge chair. If you can source a vintage white plaster bust that will fit on your mantel, it would definitely round out the look.

1. Sconce | 2. Mirror | 3. Sconce | 4. Marble Candle Holder | 5. Black Urn with Handles | 6. Purple Glass Vase | 7. Fireplace Screen | 8. Log Holder | 9. Fireplace Tool Set | 10. Accent Chair

Most of us own a TV and a lot of us have no other option but to place it above the fireplace. So how do we make that look right? In researching for this post, I found a multitude of “camouflage” options, like putting doors in front of it, or hanging a painting on top of it with a sort of shadow box behind it, but if you just want to be real and live with your TV on display, but also want to have a good looking fireplace/mantel situation, we hope this helps. You own that shiny TV, and you love that shiny TV, so just let her freak-flag fly! And in the spaces surrounding her, we will do our best to distract, deflect, and style it up. So for this combo, we went with a “rustic glam” theme. The lighting balances the black box that is your TV, being brass and rounded. I also liked the idea of balancing out the dark frame of the television with a brass screen (otherwise you risk getting two big black boxes to stare at).Wood and leather through the vase and log holder inject that warm, rustic vibe. Oh, and no TV would be complete without a lounge chair (which we kept super modern and sculptural to shake things up a bit) and cozy blanket (which leans to the more “rustic” side of this vignette).

1. Sconce | 2. Sconce | 3. Medium Tea Candle Holder | 4. Short Tea Candle Holder | 5. Wood Vase | 6. Accent Chair | 7. Fireplace Screen | 8. Fireplace Tool Set | 9. Log Holder | 10. Throw Blanket 

***Thank you to Lauren, a new contributing market research, for helping to pull this post together. Here’s a little bit about Lauren, since she’s new around here: Originally from the Oregon Coast, Lauren spent the past decade in Portland working in modern furniture and eventually starting up an interior decorating business. She believes that good design requires patience and that the right coat of paint could actually change your life.

 

  1. I’m in the process of stripping years of paint (and even I’ll-thought two-toned orange peel!) off my 1930s wood mantel, so this is a timely post. Love that Mid-Century eclectic fireplace screen. Mostly, though, I’d love to know what the “dramatic BLAH BLAH” is! Placeholder?

  2. I don’t chime in often, but I thought Lauren did a great job! 👌 Loved the story with her mom decorating at the beginning—totally endeared me to her! And the roundup was fab too! Thanks for all the great reads/content. Love your blog and your team. ♥️

    1. Thanks for your kind words!

    2. Thank you, Melissa! It means a lot 🙂

  3. Loved this! I’ve bookmarked several things to buy, but it was nice not to feel that was the whole purpose of the post.

  4. I love these style roundups! I was starting to miss them.

  5. Hmmmm…. I really like the idea of the sconces. But they need to be hard-wired to a place that is not super easy to get to. Any other suggestions for the “light” part of the equation?

    1. Check out Modern Lantern for awesome cordless lamps you could use on your fireplace when you don’t have a plug in the right spot! https://www.modernlantern.com

  6. “dramatic BLAH BLAH”

    Hehe

    1. Friday oversight! Haha fixed!

  7. Great and timely post. I’ve been procrastinating about the brick around my fireplace. Beautiful white carved mantel with ugly red orange brick. Embarrassed to say I’ve lived with this too many years. You’ve inspired me. I’m painting it black and never going back 🙂

    1. Yes! Do it! We never regretted it after finally painting ours 😉

  8. Great post, and very timely for me, as it is feeling quite fall-like out West. Really appreciate Lauren’s voice (welcome!) and her personal anecdotes.

    1. Thank you Emily! It means so much!

  9. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!

    1. We love when someone proclaims their love for a post, in all caps no less. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! 🙂 Happy Friday!

  10. Nice post Lauren! Now I only have one question… what are my options for a fireplace with NO MANTEL? Ours is painted brick (veneer) straight and flat right up to the ceiling. Someday we will attempt to install a mantel shelf but for now there is nothing! Luckily it has a knee high bench built in around the main stack so there is a surface to place my bucket of wood and my iron tools, but it lacks that surface to prop art, candlesticks, and greenery. The only thing I can think of is using a command hook to hang a wreath over the fireplace, but there must be other options you creative decorators can think of!

    1. A shelf sounds like a great solution! But until then, command hooks could working for hanging anything – The wreath, artwork, mirror, cute garland/bunting, etc. You could hang plants from the ceiling to bring in greenery. And use plug-in sconces for light on either side of the fireplace. Utilize the build-in bench as a styling surface by adding candlesticks, a basket, or even leaning art down low! Hope that gets some ideas flowing 🙂

    2. Hi Julie! So glad you liked it 🙂 I would just go big on the wall hanging art and maybe a couple candle sconces on the wall for a touch of Romance. Keep at it!

  11. This is a really useful post! I have always struggled with trying to find pieces to style with and there is something I will or would use in every one of these vignettes. And best of all, many of the objects displayed in the round-up fit into my budget. Yay!

    I also enjoyed the narrative accompanying the images. Thanks for gathering all this together for us.

  12. Such a fun post! Thank you! I love when you include accessories in posts like these.

  13. Common spelling error: mantel, not mantle!

    I am doing rustic, rustic, would love to see more ideas.

    Love the rules!

    1. *thwop* DId you hear that? It’s me slapping my forehead 😉

  14. I really enjoy when you do posts like these and name the different looks along with a list of accessories. It’s like so many posts all in one; Roundup, how to style, where to shop etc. This is so helpful.

    1. Glad to hear these are helpful!

  15. I love your site. I get so many wonderful ideas from it each day and it has expanded my library for resources. One thing I’d like to know it what computer program you use to display each collection.

    1. Hi Anne! We put these together using Photoshop!

  16. This was fun to read!

  17. I love changing up my mantelscape! But none of the examples here look anything like mine. Ha.

    Everything in our townhouse was builder-grade when we bought it. About 15 years ago, we finally renovated the entire place. Our hideous ceramic tile fireplace surround (a kind of whitish glaze on terracotta — hideous!) with the single four inch square mantel was always a sore spot for me. The four inches was too narrow to do pretty much anything, and there was a raised hearth that just took up floor space.

    We took out the step completely (since we did our downstairs flooring in porcelain tile — we’re near the beach and the damp air is death to most flooring materials), so we didn’t need that hearth, clad it in doug fir, the surround in the same tile but cut smaller and arranged with a few decorative tiles we’d bought in the past, and made a nice generous six inch mantel surface. Finally room for actually making arrangements.

  18. I would love Lauren to come each fall and set a new scene upon my fireplace. She has such a playful and solid sense of design. I am happy that she is now contributing. She learned a lot from her mother…..i guess an eye for beauty can be inherited…

    Thanks! Lauren

    1. Thanks Dorothy 😉

  19. I know it probably breaks all the design rules but our TV is over the fireplace- we tried it everywhere else and just couldn’t make it work. Thoughts on how to make it look less… “tv over the fireplace-ish”?! Currently there’s not much room to do much so I have a vase on either side and that’s it.

  20. Love this! I love how your voice comes across in your writing! beautiful and timely post. We are getting ready to rip out our corner fireplace to center it on the wall instead.

    1. Thank You! I’m sure your new fireplace will be stunning 🙂

  21. I almost didn’t read this post because I don’t have a fireplace. Then I remembered I did…and clearly it’s neglected so maybe this post really was for me! Haha

  22. Would love a roundup related to gas fireplaces. Or just a design post. Not as beautiful as wood-burning but so many people have ’em!

  23. I love this post! Moving into my first home with a mantel as an adult so perfect timing!
    I’m obsessed with the artwork in the opening photo. Can you share any information about it?
    Thanks!

  24. One of my favourite posts. Sums up and simplifies current decor styles, will help with my decor paralysis. Regrettably many of the url links are dead.

  25. LOve your writing style and references Lauren! 😀 I’m glad they hired you! Also love the design aspect and diff style vignettes. Thanks! Forwarding to my sister for her new home.

  26. One of the things I love about EHD is the sense of *team*. Allowing each member to write posts, showcasing their own work and featuring them on social media – especially after they’ve moved on to new roles! – really makes the company stand out so much more than every other well-known eponymous firm. I don’t want to call out any names, but think for a minute – beyond significant others, what other designers identify and celebrate those who are important to their work?

  27. Great post! I so love the addition of the “Modern Victorian.” This is one of the few blogs where I see that particular style referenced. It is one I am always cultivating. My house is a great old Queen Ann. And I like to reference the era, but definitely do not want to live in an “authentic” period Victorian house. You nail it every time.

  28. I love your voice, Lauren! A great addition to the blog 🙂 I also totally needed this post. My mantle is too symmetrical, and I feel the need to graduate from high to low, starting with the far ends, working its way to the middle. BORING

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