Styling the Fireplace Mantle 101


From a homeowner in Atlanta~

What a great offer that you posted on your blog about helping people edit rooms. What about fire place mantles?  I have always kept the fireplace as you enter our home fairly simply, but I have always felt that what I have placed on our mantle does not create a strong presence as one of the first items that you see when you come into our home. I have a rectangular mirror propped up against the wall (slightly boring, but had nothing else to put there) and then created a small grouping of items against the side – not wanting it too look too cluttered but think I am on the too sparse side looking at these pictures.

I received two prints at Christmas that I love and have been toying with where to hang them/ how to frame them.  I can only grab a ss from the photographer’s site posted below. This particular image is probably a little larger than 16x22 alone. There is a smaller print that is black and white  and shows a stretch of farm countryside with a lot of movement as well.  Do I remove the mirror and put these prints up- does the mirror offer more openness to the room?

I am open with any ideas – they do not have to be around the print below (just thought I’d mention I have it and don’t know where to hang at this point).

My questions would be:

*How can I alter what I currently have to make the most out of the space? Add items, take away, scrap what I have all together?  I love the idea of all white groupings or one color scheme of groupings, but am afraid of getting too cluttered. I am open to any ideas though –doesn’t have to be around grouping either. I am thinking of the Domino story they did on mantles and showed a lot of groupings so my mind is stuck there.

*The long bench melts into the floor. I am totally aware. I had a lot of great art books that covered this bench at one point and the dogs took a liking to chewing on them – so they were quickly removed.  Have considered a runner to go underneath the bench to make it pop...

*Have you seen any affordable items while out and about on your shopping excursions that you think would make a good home on this mantle or near?

Any thoughts/suggestions are greatly appreciated. I wish I had you for a day to comb through my home and help me edit items/offer suggestions.

Okay so here it is my first installment in my style chat with homeowners.

The fireplace mantle,  this is a great example of a really pretty mantle , the wall color is great, love the white contrast on the trim, mirror is great. Nice bench. There is artwork displayed, so why does it look so bare and lonely. This fire place is located at the entry, and the home owner feels that it is nondescript , no drama, no pop.

Well it just needs a little extra styling that's all so here are my style ideas, if I were to style this for a magazine here is what I would suggest.

My suggestions~ I have 2

1. A collection, the homeowner did say that the idea of a collection appealed to her. I always say go with your gut~ this is your home after all and if you think that a collection would appeal to you make you happy, well heck go for it! I think removing the mirror, and putting a wonderful grouping of cream~ and green and brown plates would be fantastic. all sizes and shapes ( flea market finds), would work beautifully. Don't be afraid to take the plates all the way to the ceiling,and beyond, take your time and collect the perfect plates.
I would then add a larger scale vase in cream with large branches on the mantle, maybe one small green plant or moss in a natural or concrete pot would be a great touch.
I would put white birch logs into the firebox ( which by the way I always suggest you do if it is not a fireplace that is lit regularly)
I would flank the mantel with 2 small scale chairs, Restoration Hardware has chairs that are wood and have linen cushions very affordable @ 150.00 each w/cushion. The Madeleine Chair
as for the bench, I would have a cushion made for the top of the bench out of the same light linen.
a great resource in Norcross, GA is Budget Upholstery on Wesley Chapel Road, great fabrics, great workmanship.

2. If the homeowner wanted to leave the mirror, I think that a larger print, framed in an off white chunky frame (like the mantel) would look great leaning on the mirror on the right side. I would add more various sized vases maybe just 2, and an interesting object to the mix already on the mantle. Like a lantern from Wisteria Catalog
I would put 2 large pots or urns on either side of the mantle with with ferns, or moss on the top. You could also use these ceramic Palmer stools from Z-Gallery in white. If the homeowner chooses to use the pots I would keep these pots simple and heavy as the homeowner has small children and nothing that would be easily pulled over would be advisable. This could be something from a garden store, maybe in white or green.
Again I would suggest a light color cushion for the bench, and perhaps a small area rug right under the bench like this one from Anthropologie
put those white birch logs into the firebox,it makes a huge difference.

I hope these suggestions help, I would love to see a photo once you style up your mantle, I know which ever style path you choose, there will be great improvement and your entry fireplace with sing and greet your guests with a bang.