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Decorate a Mantle Like the Pros

When it comes to decorating, there are no rules, just merely suggestions. And even those suggestions can be personalized to fit your needs. For those of you where the idea of decorating gives a chill down your spine, I'm here to break it down in a simple, easy, and fun way. Let's start by learning some basics when it comes to decorating a shelf or mantle.


Since a mantle is basically a large shelf that is usually the focal point in the room, it provides an easy way to showcase items that reflect your own unique touch, creativity, and interests. Be as creative as you'd like and/or tie in elements from around the room to keep the look cohesive.

Decorating a mantle or shelf can be tricky if there are height restrictions, so before you start buying anything, take measurements so you know what you have to work with. I also recommend taking pictures of your shelf or mantle so you can easily reference them when at a store.

When decorating a mantle, you can make it as simple or complex as you'd like - both can be effective and memorable. Arrange and rearrange the items until you are content with the overall look and feel. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and add interest to your mantle and/or shelf. Choose a few points to focus on to create the mantle of your dreams.

  • Incorporate a variety of heights

  • Combine objects with various sizes and shapes

  • Add a plant, multiple plants, branches, or faux plants / trees

  • Create small groupings that combine items with different sizes, shapes, and colors

  • Even though items grouped into odd numbers keeps things ironically balanced to the eye, sometimes having items in pairs can be aesthetically appealing as well

  • Overlap items to allow for more space as well as add visual appeal to groups

  • For multiple shelves, tie in elements that coordinate into each shelf

  • Incorporate a statement word, quote, or inspirational sign

  • Carry the theme throughout the shelf/shelves

  • Incorporate different textures and designs

  • Adding multiples of the same object spaced on opposite sides and ends (ex. top right and bottom left) can add symmetry and provide balance

  • Sometimes less is more so that the shelf doesn't become overcrowded and too busy

  • Space between objects can add to the overall setup

  • Think outside the box and use your creativity to showcase your unique interests and style

  • Whimsical or unique items can serve as a conversational piece

  • Keep scale in mind to choose objects of the right size that are visually appealing and fill up the space

  • Picture frames placed in various orientations (horizontal and vertical) are an easy way to bring in a variety of shapes and sizes

  • Use stacked books to create height, elevate items, and add color

  • For a large shelf or mantle, hanging a mirror or piece of artwork can add a nice backdrop with which to work with

  • Use a repetitive color throughout to create harmony

  • If still needing ideas, think about your location, history, and scenery (such as the coast, mountains, lake, desert, etc.) to incorporate those elements to tie in your location

In many homes, a mantle or statement shelf may be the first thing guests notice upon entering a room, such as a living room. Because of this, keeping some items neutral while swapping out other items to reflect the different holidays and seasons is a fun way to keep things interesting and fun.


To paint you a picture of how some of these ideas are implemented, I'll feature a few of my favorite mantles, as seen on After all, they do it best!

Thanks for reading! To check out additional ideas and inspiration for decorating shelves, check out my post, How to Decorate a Shelf or Ladder Shelf like a Pro. For more design ideas and inspiration, click the link to check out a tour of our Newlywed Home Makeover or click the link to check out fun and festive Christmas Decorating ideas!

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This lifestyle blog is a sampling of my many passions and interests that are a reflection of my soul essence.
There's something for everyone here to inspire and channel their inner soul essence.
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