Fireplace mantels command attention in your home so what you display on and above them is critical to the design of your room.
In earlier times, the fireplace was the center of family life. That isn’t surprising, since the fireplace was the source of food, light and warmth. Times have changed, but a fireplace is still an important decorating element in most homes.
In fact, it is usually the focal point of a room, and it deserves special attention. Collect an interesting assortment of artwork to decorate the wall above the fireplace, and then add other coordinating items to the mantel to complete the look! I just switched these two paragraphs around and altered a few words.
When you decorate a fireplace, you are really decorating two distinct areas—the wall above the fireplace and the mantel. Before you begin, study the decor in the rest of the room. The theme of the room should help you determine the types of accessories to use. These items should reflect the style and color palette of the room and coordinate with the dominant theme.
Traditionally, the wall area above the mantel is used to display a large piece of artwork. When choosing artwork for this space, scale is very important. If you are living in a home where the space above the mantel is four feet or less, a large painting or mirror is a good choice. For a different look, place the artwork on the mantel and lean it against the wall instead of hanging it.
In newer homes, choosing artwork for above a mantel can be a challenge. Great rooms with soaring two-story ceilings are the norm in most new construction, which means this wall space above a fireplace can be about 15 feet tall!
A single piece of art can work in this instance, if the piece is very large—huge, in fact. Since art of this size can be pricy, you may wish to consider the alternative of creating a grouping of smaller items.
Obviously it is possible to create a large group of small paintings. To unify the look, they should share the same theme or perhaps be matted and framed in a similar manner. But who said the only thing you can hang on a wall is a picture? Almost anything can be used to create a grouping. Interesting textiles, including tapestries or quilts, can make an eye-catching collection above a fireplace.
Many people hang a large mirror above the mantel, but what about hanging a collection of different sizes of mirrors instead? Architectural pieces, including antique windows, shutters or gingerbread trim can be combined for a unique grouping.
Groupings of pretty plates and platters are another option. Whether old or new, they provide color and depth to a plain wall.
Creating a grouping can be quite time consuming, so it is important to have a plan. Unless you love filling in holes, the place to plan the grouping is on the floor, not the wall. Mark off an area of the floor which is the same size as the area above the fireplace. Experiment with the placement of the items in the group, balancing larger items with several smaller ones.
When you are satisfied with the arrangement, make a sketch of the items, noting sizes of the items, spaces between them and location of hangers. Using these measurements, mark the placement of the items on the wall. Or, another easy method is to cut the shapes and sizes of the items you plan on hanging out of newspaper or brown paper bags. Then you can move them around the wall space, taping them in place to stand back and get a better feel for your arrangement. Then just measure off of the templates to place the nails and hooks!
Make sure to check the weight of each item to determine the proper hanging method. Apply the hangers to the wall and place the items on the hangers. Hopefully your plans were accurate and the grouping looks just like you envisioned. But wait, you still aren’t finished. You still need to decorate the mantel!
Once again, the mantel arrangement should support the style of the room. In a traditional room, it is common to use a symmetrical arrangement, while in a more casual or modern setting, an asymmetrical design may be preferred.
Since mantel accessories should complement the wall grouping and not compete with it, you’ll be happy to know mantel decor can be kept to a minimum. Candles, candle sticks, vases and greenery are all good choices for a mantel. To create visual interest, vary the size and elevation of the objects you choose.
While today’s fireplaces are no longer used as the primary source of food, heat and light, they still can be the family gathering place in your home. With a beautiful wall grouping and mantel display, the fireplace will become an area that naturally attracts attention!