Less is More: How to Declutter a Mantel

Mantels can easily become overcrowded with stuff. Things. Junk. I’m not sure why this is so, other than the mantel provides a practically perfect surface on which to display things. Which means that when you acquire or create a new decoration, it will often find its way to the mantel…regardless of whether or not it belongs. This is unfortunate, because a well-edited mantel is the foundation of a well-edited room overall.

View in gallery

View in gallery

In this article, we’ll look briefly at how to declutter the mantel while still leaving your space with plenty of seasonal charisma.

View in gallery

Here is the “before” of this mantel. Plenty of layered objects (which is a look I happen to like when it’s done strategically and intentionally, unlike has happened here), and everything strewn across the mantel from side to side. No visual breaks.

View in gallery

A mantel really needs to have a focal point; everything on the mantel should either be part of that focal point or be playing a supporting role (e.g., balance). Simply spewing objects from left to right does not a decorated mantel make. So much visual clutter here.

View in gallery

While it’s not technically on the mantel, these hanging objects are at the top of the mantel vignette and add nothing but aesthetic chaos.

View in gallery

Step 1: Remove everything. If I were to walk out of this living room and leave it like this, it would be an improvement.

View in gallery

Step 2: Clean any surfaces. Dust and wash the mantel, scrub the mirror (you can use this DIY natural glass cleaner for good results), and vacuum the cobwebs near the ceiling. Just, you know, spruce up the place.

View in gallery

If you have any wall art or wall hangings that should go on the wall, get them mounted.

View in gallery

This reader board has been propped on the mantel for months, but it has never been secure. I’m always worried that it’s going to fall onto one of my children’s head. Decluttering is for peace of mind as much as it is for cleaning out.

View in gallery

A single potted plant on the mantel gives it a fresh overall vibe. Adding a copper component onto the pot brings in a subtle fall flair, which I love.

View in gallery

To balance the mantel as a whole, consider incorporating a collection of visually lightweight objects OR one object that’s similar in visual weight but different enough to not fail at symmetry.

View in gallery

These vintage lab beaker leaf vases are just the thing – seasonal yet unique, colorful yet spare, tall yet slender.

View in gallery

It’s interesting to note here that clutter is not necessarily about the number of objects. There are probably more objects on the mantel now (with those six beakers) than there were at the start of this process. However, decluttering IS about lightening the visual (and physical) load of a space, removing the unnecessary, and editing down to the all-important core of the thing.

View in gallery

These are the objects removed during the declutter process. Just because they’re not on the mantel doesn’t mean we don’t love them. A time and a season for everything.

View in gallery

We hope you’ve picked up a tip or two on how to declutter a mantel, but even more, we hope that you can use those tips to create the clutter-free mantel of your dreams this fall.