Skip to main content
Advice for HomeownersDecorating AdviceFireplacestablescapes

Decorating your Mantle and Fireplace Surround

By 07/30/2013December 24th, 202043 Comments

Is it time to freshen up your mantle?  A well styled mantle is so pretty and at the same time, we might as well talk about your surround and what it should look like.

I love that I have two mantles in my new house to decorate! It’s so festive at Christmas to be able to drape garland around them.

Okay, so I’m just going to post images and talk about them for some inspiration:

Decorating Mantles and Fireplaces

This is a perfectly layered, asymmetrical arrangement. If you have items in a single colour scheme, this would be one to copy.

Decorating mantles and Fireplace Surrounds

I love the way the tiny antique books are layered to repeat what’s happening in the built-in bookcases on either side. Notice that the rustic and earthy stone totally relates to the gold, brown and gray tones in this living room.


Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surrounds

This is a lovely, simple idea for a more contemporary look.  I’m not a fan of the antler trend (might be because I’m a vegetarian) but a tree branch would substitute nicely.

Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surrounds

It starts getting hard to decorate the mantle when the ceilings get high. This mirror really fills in the space and the urns are perfect!

Hey, my best friend Tami has this ottoman in her townhouse!

Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surounds

Another tall mantle, I have shown this image to my clients many times. The simple and clean look of a full length mirror installed above the fireplace. The pendant light directed on the flower arrangements looks so well thought out.

Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surrounds

Love this simple idea. Spray paint a bunch of random vessels in white and fill with blooms from the garden.

Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surounds

This blue fireplace surround is so fresh coordinated with all the white and the artwork above. Here, the art is most definitely all that is required.

Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surrounds

This is my summer mantle (above). I just need some small seashells in the hurricane lanterns amongst the sand.

I recently had an email from in India who asked if I had any ideas on decorating to make a person feel cooler. Here I have two white penguins and penguin nesting dolls that I bought at for my nephews to play with at Christmas.

Do you feel cooler yet Bhavana?

Also in one of my colour training classes I learned that if you paint a room orange, people will feel warmer in it than a blue room for example. And it’s completely psychosomatic. Nothing to do with reality. Isn’t that fascinating? So perhaps blue room would simply feel cooler.

My Mom bought me that stunning orchid (above) for my birthday in June.

Decorating Mantles and Fireplace Surrounds

And here is a close up of my nephews nesting dolls.

Bottom line, I would go as classic and neutral as possible on your fireplace surround. Skip the earthy stone unless you are building a ski chalet or home in the mountains.

Which surround is your favourite?

Related posts:

How to Choose Colour around a Stone Fireplace

Which Stone Colour is Best for your Fireplace Surround?

What it Takes to have a Classic House

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk up to the front door, become a client. On-line or In-person.

Download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert. 

23 pins


  • Jann Newton says:

    I love these fireplaces, especially the blue one. (Blue is my favorite color!) I struggle with our fireplace and mantle. We have a brick that will probably get painted white soon, so that will help. Thanks for all of the inspiration!

  • StagerLinda says:

    Fireplace mantels are one of my favorite things to stage! You are so right displaying large urns on tall fireplaces. Your orchid is beautiful and your mantle is lots of fun. The penguins make me smile.

  • What do you think about marble fireplace surrounds, Maria? Obviously, I’d want to be certain the undertones of the stone related to my home, but I’m most drawn to marble so I’d love your opinion!

  • Sharon Abel says:

    Your mantel is my favourite of them all…….that floral artwork is amazing and I love that you move it around. (I have seen it in other rooms, yes?) And the best use ever of National Geographics. I love yellow and am now regretting every N.G. I sold in garage sales over the years!

    • Jules says:

      Sharon (and anyone else),
      I have years of National Geographic available. If you are interested, let me know. They definitely make a room pop!

  • Livia Drennan says:

    Hi Maria. I like all of these ideas, but I really love the mantle design by Sarah Richardson. I am so pinning it! I would love to use this idea for a client, or why not in my own house?… I think it will work just fine even with a regular height wall, with a mirror positioned asymmetrically on one side and a tall arrangement on the other side highlighted by a pendant. Brilliant! Thank you for this thoughtful inspiration.

  • Marcia Bivens says:

    I love the MANTELS. Please correct the spelling. 🙂

    • Linda says:

      Both spellings are considered correct. Depends on the locale.

    • Roberta says:

      Yes Marcia. You are correct in your spelling of MANTEL! It is a common mistake. For years I had a ‘Mantel of the Month’ feature on my website

    • Barbara says:

      Wow. I am always amazed when someone is snippy about an “error” when they are the ones who are wrong. I am sure you are aware Maria is Canadian and the correct spelling is mantle. I have never seen the word mantel before.

  • Gilda says:

    don’t like antlers? aren’t they naturally shed? do you not like animals> or is it just a ‘body part’ that grosses you out? just wondering because it sounded odd/interesting….

    • Bhavana says:

      Maybe ’cause they seem so ‘pokey’. ..and ancient. For me, beautiful flowers or images of alive animals trump dead animal parts anyday.

      Thanks for remembering me Maria…so thoughtful. You must be getting a gajillion queries and yet you bothered to ‘call’ me out. 🙂

      But hey, your mantle looks homey and warm, because your penguins are wearing scarves and hats! And that painting behind has very summery, red colours.

      The one that looks cool to me is ofcourse, the blue fireplace. I wish, I wish I could paint our living room a gray blue.

    • Yes, antlers naturally shed. They’re not ONLY removed after the animal has been hunted. And hey all you vegetarians…if the reason you’re not eating meat is because it was once alive, you did know that vegetables were once alive too before you ate them, right? 😉 It’s, true ya know….

      OK..back to topic these mantel photos are all wonderful! Great ideas for inspiration! I just staged a house doing a very simple white mantel with blue and silver items from the owner’s belongings….It was designed very much like the yellow mantel shown, however I used fewer items because the mantel was rather small/narrow. I also love the all white vases with pink flowers…so pretty, so cottagey!

    • Jules Moore says:

      I also was confused by Maria’s comment on not liking antlers because she’s a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian and an animal lover! Antlers are shed naturally by deer. We are lucky enough to live on 25 acres that is home to many deer. We collect their fallen antlers and display them in our home.

      • Maria Killam says:

        OK so I did not know that. The trend I’m not in love with are heads on the walls, those are not naturally shed, haha. Thanks for clarifying. Maria

  • Donna Frasca says:

    … as long as the TV doesn’t go over it 🙂

  • joanne says:

    Congrats to Paula Diekoff for being the winner of the Traci Zeller candle. Enjoy!

  • Bhavana says:

    Are those orchids real?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes they are! Amazing right? Maria

      • Bhavana says:

        So jealous! Im lusting after Ikeas orchids..faux ones ofcourse. Otherwise, true orchids might just shrivel and die if they hear they are going to schlepped to my city!

  • Franki says:

    That yellow made me smile! Really like your art work above the mantle! franki

  • Ivy Lane says:

    Great post! I have a corner fireplace …. it it very difficult for me to figure out what to display on the “shelf”… as it is not flat against the wall..but takes up the whole corner…

  • Mary says:

    I like mantels that have the artwork and/or mirrors
    layered. To me it looks casual. Love it!
    I struggle with my mantel because it has a top section that prevents me from adding anything with height.
    I like the idea of painting different vessels. That I could do!

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Mantels, Mantle’s, who cares how it’s spelt!
    Think the latter is the British spelling for those who do care:)
    Anyhow, those pics are gorgeous and inspiring.
    Anyone out there have some ideas for a corner Mantle?

  • Arlene says:

    My preference is yours. BUT I would put items abit taller opposite the orchids. I have a fireplace in the corner. What ideas do you have for that? At present time I have a group of artificial white roses in an elegant charcoal vase which I love. There is a pot light above on a dimmer switch. I am going to put an orchid on one side with candles on top of books shorter than orchids. What do you think?

  • Angela Taylor says:

    In response to Arlene, I also have a small corner fireplace which makes it somewhat limiting when it comes to decorating. However, I have a model sailng ship on the mantle presently which works because it is triangular (if you can picture that).
    Would like to change that out for holidays though.
    I usually do candles in graduating heights.
    Would really like to see some pics of how others decorate a corner mantle. Maybe I’ll go online and see what I can come up with.

  • I like them all, which ever way you spell them.

  • Pat says:

    On antlers and other animal parts in my living room or anywhere in the house. Nope. Stuffed peacocks? No! I don’t even care for the benches and tables with little hoof feet. It’s just not for me.

    Might go for a papier mache elephant or collage something a little crazy fun. Photos and paintings are great too. I understand that you may think me odd and that’s okay.

    Decorate your home with style and color and I’ll look right past the … and see the elegance.

    I love animals, living ones that is. My cats perch wherever cats love to perch which is just about anywhere they can reach. I have Bengal/Tonkinese mix and calico decor at present. If I had a mantle they would probably be up there.

  • Paula says:

    I love your artwork! Who is the artist?

  • I have the dreaded TV above the fireplace scenario. No way around it, unfortunately, in our room. I have hung 2 round mirrors on each side to help fill the empty wall space and help detract from the monstrous TV, but I’ve never been able to figure out what else to layer on the mantle itself that won’t partially block the TV. Ugh.

  • Hollie, I have to do a TV up there too, but we managed to work it in with small objects underneath the TV and a buffet lamp on either side. Also the lamp bases are black and many of the little objets d’art are black too, so I think they help blend in the TV. Feel free to track me down online if you want a pic; everyone compliments our arrangement and/or fails to notice the TV so I feel like I’ve succeeded, haha.

  • Betsy OShea says:

    I love the blue and beige room w mantle mirror and blue/white ginger jars but how can u not love those beautiful beams and high ceiling! Your mantle is very pretty too. Would live to see the winter version. Re the sky blue tiled surround, yes the painting is enough but the actual mantlepiece is too shallow to hold objects. For the woman w the imposing black tv check out Marias solution… Instead of hiding the TV she installed black shelving flanking the fireplace, a black coffee table and other objects. Embrace the black and use it. It works quite well

  • Betsy OShea says:

    Oh btw Maria, it could be fun to request your followers to send u pics of their mantle scapes and do a webinar on accessorizing living rms/dens and mantles. Just an idea…like the front door webinar

    • Monica says:

      Great idea! The yellow mantle scape especially highlights how often mantles are color opportunities missed. The mantle could be an exclamation point, but is too often left as an ellipsis . . .

  • mimi says:

    You are so lucky, Maria, to have two mantles to decorate- such fun at Christmas!


  • Monica says:

    The question of the corner fireplace seems to come up again and again. I, too, have one of those strange corner fireplace mantle/shelf configurations. To make things a little more interesting, there is a cathedral ceiling. The firebox surround is white marble and a painted white surround and mantle. The fireplace is set into a corner wall which extends only 8 feet up the wall. (Basically, the purpose of the wall is to hide the vent stack for the gas fireplace.) This corner wall simply stops at 8 feet, creating a shelf way up in the air . . . or about 3 feet above the mantle. The rest of the corner is just an empty corner to the top of the cathedral ceiling. The architect claims it adds visual space. I feel like the room is looking for its missing piece. No idea, although I am thinking of just continuing the wall to the ceiling. What does one do with a corner fireplace?

  • Tawna Allred says:

    I’m glad people shared about antlers shedding naturally every year! You can find shed antlers all over our mountains. My husband would hike with his brothers when they were growing up, gather the shed antlers from the forest, and sell them to earn money. I don’t usually use them in decorating either (unless it’s a desire from the client), just because they are so over-used in this area. I had to laugh when I attended market a few years back, and the “lodge living” area said they were chastised by a man from China for “killing all those animals.” I didn’t realize so many people were unaware of this cycle of nature….I hope the word gets around!

  • Tammy says:

    Problem! I have a set of mounted elk horns above the mantel that my husband insists stays and since they were there before we married I haven’t yet been able to get him to let me take them down. Help!.. What can I do to mantel that will blend with the elk horns?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Add some smaller ones to create a grouping and make it look intentional, there’s lots of animal heads dipped in gold or silver out there these days!

  • Daphne says:

    Mantel and mantle are two entirely different words with different meanings, and I don’t care what country you live in. That’s all there is to it. Think of it this way: The one on your fireplace can serve as a shelf, and the word shelf has the letters el in it, just like the letters in the word mantel. One meaning of the word mantle is cloak. Look that one up in a a dictionary, or just remember the first one when you’re talking about fireplaces. There’s nothing difficult about this.

Leave a Reply