Simple and Sophisticated Fireplace Mantel Ideas

Fireplaces tend to be instantaneous feature points of a space, whether it be a living room, family room, kitchen, home office, or bedroom. Sometimes, though, homeowners forget that the fireplace surround itself is the natural focal point and, while the mantel is a natural place to decorate, it can become too much very quickly. Here are some scaled-back fireplace mantel decorating ideas where less really is more, and simple and sophisticated (but not stuffy!) reign supreme.

Fireplace mantel design

Things Are Left to the Imagination

Fireplace mantel shelf decor

In a gorgeously unexpected twist on fireplace mantel décor, this refined living area offers plenty of white space for visitors to mentally fill. A few pieces keep the above-fireplace space warm and inviting, while traditional “mantel-filler” items such as a large piece of art or an oversized mirror are intentionally omitted. This low-profile, simplified approach is as refreshing and lovely as that white back-painted glass it showcases.

Natural Simplicity

Natural simplicity fireplace mantel

A single solitary mirror is a perfectly acceptable, nay, a beautiful and satisfying, way to decorate simply above a fireplace. Keeping the mirror unframed completely or with a narrow frame will help the look to feel as naturally fresh and simple as it can be. The addition of a large-leafed plant and/or some rocks are an option for those who just can’t feel like a single mirror could ever be enough (even though it could be and is).

Visually Balanced but Not Matching

Balanced fireplace mantel design

Symmetry certainly has its place of honor in design, but when symmetry is expected or predictable, it’s a good time to consider the use of a-symmetry. A tall, branchy vase looks well on one side of the mantel while a short, solid creation holds its own weight on the other. A simply framed square mirror serves as a lovely non-partisan connector.{found on platemark}.

Monochromatic Vases

Monochromatic vases for fireplace mantel

While this particular fireplace mantel isn’t set up like a traditional fireplace mantel, the concept behind its décor is universal and versatile. Choose jars or vases of the same color of varying heights and silhouettes, but make sure they are of comparable visual weight. Or if you have a collection of jars already that are of different colors, paint them to be the same so the emphasis is on their silhouette. It’s subtler and cleaner-lined and quite aesthetically effective.{found on hacin}.

Stack of Books

Stack of Books for fireplace mantel

Books are stacked on coffee tables, book cases, end tables, even the floor…but it’s not often that we see them stacked tastefully on a fireplace mantel. This simple academic decorating move sets the tone for the entire space, where the residents obviously value that place where gaining knowledge and natural comforts collide. And what a beautiful, welcoming collision it is.

A Single, Small Pop of Color

Small Pop of color for mantel fireplace

When a fireplace itself is subtle in its color palette, such as this one painted white to match the walls of the living room, the smallest bit of color will stand out dramatically. Center a smallish object of whatever color you’d like on your mantel; if you’re lucky, some architectural feature will help to emphasize the object, but if not, that’s okay, too. The effect is minimalist and chic.{found on shapirojoyalstudio}.

Pair of Candlesticks + Art

Pair of Candlesticks + Art

Your mantel really can be as simple as can be while still looking sophisticated and stylish, as this elegant cream living room evidences. Notice that the décor has characteristics that are directly opposite the mantel itself – the mantel is chunky and rustic, the décor is gilded and refined. The combination works beautifully because both are of muted tones within the room’s color palette.

Off-Centered Sculptures.

Off-Centered Sculptures

Particularly when the fireplace mantel falls below the fireplace itself, the mantel should be kept minimally decorated so as not to create visual imbalance between the lower, mid, and upper thirds of the fireplace wall. A small grouping or two of interestingly-silhouetted sculptural elements resting unimposingly to the side of the fireplace itself is a cool, nonchalant nod to the expectation of fireplace mantel décor.{found on deanalewis}.

Colored Glass

Colored Glass for fireplace mantel

A chunky wooden mantel below the fireplace does wonders for a large white wall…which happens to have a fireplace situated perfectly centered between two windows. Because these three elements are each, in and of themselves, a focal feature, the long-running bench-as-mantel brings them together. In this instance, where eyes are drawn to multiple places at once, less is truly more in mantel décor. A sea-colored oversized glass vase with green cuttings is a great balance of the window views and flames.{found on micheleleewillson}.


Low fireplace mantel decorated with pillows

Depending on the setup of your fireplace and mantel and its size and space, comfortable pillows might be the perfect functional décor. Everyone likes to cozy up to the fireplace with a good book and a soothing beverage, so make this an inherent aspect of your beautiful fireplace feature’s offering. This is a sophisticated blend of form, and function in a contemporary, invitingly unassuming way.{found on destilat}.