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One of the most requested items on the home buyer’s wish list is a fireplace, especially in northern climates. Who doesn’t like to curl up by the fire on a cold winter night? As the focal point of the living room, we orient our furniture around the fireplace even when it’s hot out. Whether you have a traditional wood and brick setting, a full stone fame or a simple mantel, see how to decorate it for maximum appeal.
Mirrors and Symmetry
There are endless options when deciding what to hang in an empty space. A framed mirror is a classic fireplace mantel decorating accessory. Make sure that whatever is reflected in the mirror is interesting—you don’t want to expand your view of the neighbor’s garage! When I think classic design, I think symmetry and even balance. Whatever you place on one side, do the same on the opposite side. In this photo, I centered and laid a runner with three triangle points and tassels (very traditional). The accessories are simple: four etched candle shades (two elevated on cut-glass jars), a pair of majolica vases in the same color as the runner, and a glass bowl. Although this arrangement is symmetrical, it’s far from boring. The color and textures keep it interesting.
Focus on Art
A painting over the mantel is just as popular as a mirror. Artwork is personal. Choose something that speaks to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s an original work of art or a print—whatever you hang should reflect your personality. The ceiling in this family room is a little lower than standard, so I hung the painting horizontally. The center of a painting should be placed at eye level. It’s better to hang a picture too low than too high. You want a relationship between the painting and whatever is below it. The same advice applies when hanging something over a sofa, table or chairs.
This abstract oil is bright and bold. It commands attention, so the objects on the mantel should coordinate, but not over power the picture. I collected items in similar colors found in the art and arranged them asymmetrically. There is balance, but the two groupings are not mirror images of each other.
Hanging a sculpture is another way to decorate the fireplace with three-dimensional texture. It doesn’t matter if it’s old or new—it just needs to be big. I found a faded, rusty, curly-cue piece. I think it might have originally had a clock in the center and was bright pink. I love the dimension and energy of it, as well as the old chipped paint!
The theme for this display is color. I gathered everything I could find in shades of white and off-white. Some items are new; most are vintage. The secret is to make sure you use items in various heights, sizes and textures. Together they create a lovely collection.
Finally, hanging the TV over the mantel is becoming more and more popular. It frees up the floor space the TV takes up and your seating is already facing the fireplace. But there are pros and cons. Be sure to consult a structural expert before deciding. Not every fireplace wall is conducive to holding a TV!
Wisconsin interior designer Merri Cvetan writes on home design for The Home Depot. Merri's fireplace decor advice is aimed at stoking hours of additional enjoyment as you're cozied up to your fireplace on upcoming winter days and nights. For Home Depot's own selection of fireplace mantels, you can begin your research online.