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Just In Time For Fall: 10 Step Guide To Decorating A Mantel

I developed this method for decorating my fireplace mantel after years of mantel makeovers that took hours. Now, my mantel decor only takes minutes. You can use these tips to decorate your mantel for any season.

Do you have a mantel that needs decorating? Or maybe you don’t have a mantel? No problem. You can use this guide to decorate a wall shelf, coffee table, or kitchen counter.

Guide To Decorating A Mantel

how to decorate a mantel for Fall

I’m not an interior designer, just a homeowner who loves to decorate. These are my steps in putting together creative and sometimes whimsical mantel decor. The ninth step is very important.

Step 1. Start With An Empty Mantel

how to decorate a fireplace mantel

Remove everything from the mantel and hearth. It’s best to start your mantel decorating with a clean slate.

Step 2. Decide On A Theme

Fall mantel decorations 

This is the most important step. Choose a theme. If you are going into a new season like Fall, choose pumpkins, mums, dried leaves, etc. If you would like your mantel decor to be original and something that can stay up all year, then personalize it with your favorite things. Maybe you collect flamingos. Choose that as your theme. You get the idea. 

Step 3. Choose The Color Scheme

flamingo mantel decor

Now that you have a theme, the color scheme would be easy. Select three colors for your theme. Say you selected pumpkins for your Fall mantel theme. You could go with traditional Fall colors or maybe decorate with white pumpkins only and your color scheme could be white, brown, and turquoise. The flamingo theme colors might be pink, coral, and black.

Step 4. Shop Your Home For Decor Items

shop your home for items to decorate your mantel

Go through your home, workshop, garage, and other storage places searching for decor items. Choose objects in varying shades of your color choice. Grab things you wouldn’t necessarily think of as “decor” and add them to the pile. Think about dishes, fabric, bottles, silverware, lamps, architectural pieces, etc. Gather more items than you will need because you don’t know what will work.

Step 5. Select The Focal Point

Christmas Wreath

Now that you have shopped your house for mantel decor choose your focal point. You might want to use a wreath, framed photo, painted canvas, or even a game board as the focal point. The focal point can be placed in the center of the mantel or off-center. How you choose to place your items will depend on your decorating style. 

Step 6. Add Decor Around The Focal Point

decorating a mantel

Next add other things…. taking away, adding to, and swapping out as you go, working different items around the focal point. You could also use multiples of the same item as a focal point. This idea works great. Vary the size and scale of the items to create a balanced display.

Step 7. Add A Floral Element.

add flowers to your mantel decor

Flowers brighten up any setting and the mantel is a great place for flowers. Add a wreath, a glass with faux flowers, a vase with real flowers, a potted plant…. or you decide.

Step 8. Add Texture

decorate a fireplace mantel with unexpected elements

Fabric is a great way to add texture to the mantel decor. Throw in a velvet pumpkin or add a simple bow to a wreath. Try different surfaces like metal, glass, or paper. Texture adds warmth to any display. Use candles to add romance to the look.

Step 9. Take A Photo Of The Display

woman taking a photo inside of house
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Although this is the last tip…it’s the most important. Taking photos as you go along…or when you think you are done…is the secret to the whole display thing. Have you ever looked at a photo taken in your home and thought, “Boy, that (fill in the blank) needs to be moved…or…”That blanket throw does not match the couch”. You get the idea.

I first noticed this when taking photos of projects and editing them for posts. I would think all my staging looked great, but after looking at the photos, I realized something was out of place or there was too much going on. 

Step 10. Tweak The Mantel Display

Thrifty Finds Spark A Mantel Makeover

So, after looking at your photos if everything looks great then…hoorah! If not, tweak the decor by moving items to different places, taking items out, or shopping your home for more decor.

You will be a pro at decorating your mantel once you try this system a couple of times. It used to take me hours to decorate the mantel. Now I can do it in 30 minutes.

Rustic Mantel Decor

Rustic home decor sign made with Chalk Couture transfers and paste.

This is one of my favorite mantel makeovers. I made a rustic home decor sign using Chalk Couture transfers and paste. Blue and orange was the color scheme.

How To Decorate Your Mantel For Fall

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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