Easy steps to decorating a mantel

So right before Christmas last year (a whole month ago), a sweet friend texted me a picture of her mantel and asked what I thought.  Well a story book of my opinions later, she made some changes.  This got me to thinking about mantels and how I decorated mine (this week) on the upstairs landing.  So today I’m going to share a few easy steps to decorating a mantel.

Chippy mantel added to wall for a cozy look. CountyRoad407.com

This is our upstairs landing.  Yes, I still despise the gold wall color but totally love the mantel the Mister mounted to the wall.  Found it half off at a going out of biz sale.  Hello deal of the century!  I can’t get enough of anything that’s old with thick layers of chippy paint.  And as you can see, I totally mix my styles in the house in Highland Village.  There’s a bit of rustic mixed with traditional decor in this area.  On to the good stuff.

Easy Steps to Decorating a Mantel

Step 1:  Find your key piece or main focus:  This is the object you’ll add first.  It could be a clock, a piece of artwork, really whatever you like.  (Hint: Mirrors are not the best choice for mantels unless it’s reflecting the other side of the room. Most of the time they reflect the ceiling – not pretty!)

I chose a large metal piece that has a painting in the middle.  To me, it looks wintery and serene but not dreary.  This first piece will also set the theme for the rest of your decor.  Honestly, this large focal piece shouldn’t be this big.  It should be smaller and not meet the edge of the mantel.  But since when do I do what’s normal?  LOL

Easy Steps to decorating a mantel by CountyRoad407.com

Step 2:  Choose a color scheme:  The majority of color in this painting is black, green, and white which will dictate the other items I use on the mantel.  Also think about sheen.  This painting is dull so I don’t want to add bright shiny metals like brass, chrome, etc.  I feel they would look out of place.  And while looking for ways to add texture, keep your various color palette to about 3.  It will keep the mantel from looking chaotic.

Layering is one way to decorate a mantel. Check out the east steps by CountyRoad407.com

Step 3: Choose either symmetrical or balanced:  Symmetry is having the same decor items on both sides to keep it even or equal.  Like the same candle stick or vase on each side.  Balance is having items on each side but the items are different yet still visually weighted the same.  Does that makes sense?  For example – if you folded the mantel down the middle, both sides would look the same if symmetrical.

You can see this mantel is balanced, not symmetrical.  Both sides have the same type of items but the items are different.  Two candle sticks, two birch bark candles, two items of greenery.  But since the ironstone pitcher on the right has a larger surface of white than anything on the other side, I added white books to keep it “weighing” the same on the left side.

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Step 4: Making a visual triangle:  This little trick makes your mantel look expertly crafted!  Along with your key piece, work out toward the edges making triangles on either side.  Remember when I said this metal piece shouldn’t actually be this large?  This is why.  If it were smaller, you’d actually see the triangle (see white triangle).

But don’t fret, it’s perfectly fine to have layers instead and have triangles on the outer edges (see red triangles).

How to decorate a mantel in 4 easy steps! By Countyroad407.com

When decorating your mantel, keep in mind these 4 simple steps and you’ll be a pro in no time!  Soon you’ll find yourself thinking about triangles, color and balance when you’re out shopping.  😉  Most importantly, have fun.  If you like a full mantel or one that is over the top – go for it.  If you are minimalistic and only want 3 items on your mantel, that is pretty too.  Heck, you may like only 1 thing up there.  It’s all good.  You do You!

4 easy steps to decorating a mantel by CountyRoad407.com


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County Road 407 - Easy Steps to Decorating a Mantel


  1. Patricia
    January 24, 2018 / 6:55 am

    Awesome advice. I like the graphic with the triangles… that makes it all click in my mind. Thanks for breaking it down like that.
    Here’s a hint of my own. After your very sweet, adorable, talented, creative friend decorates your mantel for you, take a picture of it. Then after Christmas when you put the holiday decor away you can use the picture to put things back like she had them and not have to call her in February and make her come re-do it because you can’t get it to look right and you’re in a funk because your mantle decor is a mess and you wish you had just left the Christmas stuff on it but you don’t want to be “that person.” Not that I’ve ever done that, I’m just guessing.

    • January 24, 2018 / 4:08 pm

      LOL. I thought you talked about taking a picture of the “before” Christmas decor? I’ll be happy to come back in February and help with the mantel or whatever else you need. Signed, your very sweet, adorable, talented, creative BFF. 😉 Oh and so glad you liked the graphic! James had to do that for me. Ugh

  2. Laura Peyton
    January 24, 2018 / 8:06 am

    Oh! I do love this unexpected mantle! I bet it adds character to your landing! Thanks for the helpful tips. It looks so pretty!

    • January 24, 2018 / 4:10 pm

      Thanks Laura! I’ve had lots of compliments on it. It is unexpected. I’ll love it even more when we finally get the walls painted – someday.

  3. January 24, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    Your mantel looks great! Yes to that fantastic graphic. It always helps to be reminded of little ideas like that.

    Pinning. 🙂

    • January 24, 2018 / 6:42 pm

      Thanks Stacey! I’m still learning PhotoShop. The hubs did the graphic for me. 😊

  4. January 24, 2018 / 6:30 pm

    Its so great! I have one also but its just to big to fit on any of my walls so I may have to wait until I get my store someday to have a spot for it. 🙂

    • January 24, 2018 / 6:43 pm

      Thanks! I just got another that’s like 9’! I’m going to use it in the dining room as a shelf. Hope it works out!

  5. Kathy A
    January 24, 2018 / 6:53 pm

    I am a visual learner so those triangles were great for me–and easy to remember! Wish I had a mantel; limited wall space with other furnishings. Woodstove mantel in the cellar just isn’t the same! What a cozy looking spot your landing is! I can imagine curling up with a book, a cuppa with a saucer full of cookies!

    • January 24, 2018 / 6:58 pm

      Thank you Kathy! I’m so glad the graphic is working. It’s cozy but i don’t think I’ve ever sat down there more than 3 minutes. Hmmm 2018 goals?

  6. January 25, 2018 / 5:09 pm

    These are really great tips Cindy. I always have so much trouble explaining it, but I know when I see it if it is all wrong. You have a wonderful way of explaining why it has to be this way. Am I even making any sense?

    • January 25, 2018 / 8:06 pm

      Yes of course you make sense! I was thinking it would be difficult to understand! Thanks for visiting Mary. 😊

  7. January 25, 2018 / 6:57 pm

    Wonderful tips. And I do love your focal point painting! So moody and evocative. I come from Katie’s!
    ~ jeanie from Marmelade Gypsy

    • January 25, 2018 / 8:07 pm

      Yay Jeanie! Thanks for visiting and the sweet compliment. 😊

  8. January 26, 2018 / 2:14 pm

    This was so helpful! I always new there needed to be balance but I love the triangle rule! Thank you for sharing. Pinning for later!

    • January 26, 2018 / 2:36 pm

      Yay Kelly! Glad it was helpful. Hope you have a great weekend. Thanks for reading! 😊

  9. Katie
    January 30, 2018 / 11:03 am

    This is fantastic advise. I’m an asymmetrical fan. I’m glad to know the triangle trick. This chippy mantel is fabulous. Great find.
    Thanks for linking up to Keep In Touch.
    Katie @ Let’s Add Sprinkles

    • January 30, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      Thanks Katie! I go back and forth with asymmetrical and wanting things to be balanced. Nothing wrong with liking change. Hope you have a great week.

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