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The Easiest Way to Style a Fireplace Mantel

By 11/09/2017December 24th, 202025 Comments

If you agonize over styling your fireplace mantel, then I have a simple formula for you. Simply copy this look for the easiest way to style a fireplace mantel. In no time at all, it will look like a designer visited your home. #yourwelcome

The room in my house where I switch up the vignettes the most is my family room. Probably because it’s the room where we spend all our time and I’m always staring at my tablescapes and vignettes.

I’ve really been enjoying the thin frame round mirror trend. I found this one (below) from HomeSense but they are available everywhere right now.

I also installed one in my master ensuite when I renovated it this past summer. 

When I took photos of this room for the blog, it occurred to me that this vignette is so easy, anyone could duplicate it without a lot of effort.

But first, a design tip for a sofa chaise

In one of my Fall Specify Colour with Confidence workshops, one of the participants laughed when she told me it was such a lifesaver when she read my post about keeping a permanent throw at the end of the chaise (below). Not only does it keep it cleaner, but it also softens the look.

I go one step further and underneath this Pottery Barn fur throw, I have a queen size fleece blanket that I fold in half lengthwise and then fold it again like a sleeping bag. It’s the coziest spot ever, to crawl inside, keeps the chaise clean and this is where I usually fall asleep before I go to bed.

I have talked about this before, but now that we’re discussing furniture arrangement, a designer will RARELY if ever specify a loveseat. A loveseat can only seat one person comfortably. If you hire a designer to decorate your house, you’ll usually get a recommendation for a sofa and two chairs, two sofas, or a sofa and four chairs.

The same advice applies for a sofa with a chaise. You’ll rarely see this in a shelter magazine. I would ONLY install a sofa with a chaise in a room where it was the ONLY configuration that makes sense. It makes installing a coffee table awkward just for starters.

Also, you should only buy a sofa with a chaise with a tract arm style (square arm), I cringe when I see a sofa with a chaise with a traditional rolled arm (for example). It mostly looks bad and they shouldn’t even make them.

However, since my family room is narrow, I would have nowhere to include a second chair. So in a pinch, the chaise adds another seat, especially for TV watching.

Don’t miss this: 10 Ways to Make Your Home Look More Expensive

Okay so back to my mantel-scape tutorial.

The easiest way to style a mantel

1. Hang a Round Mirror

First you need a round mirror with a thin frame, here are several you could choose from:

1. Wayfair  |  2. West Elm  | 3. Target | 4. Williams Sonoma Home

2. Add 2 Ginger Jars (or temple jars)

You’ll also need two ginger (temple) jars like the orange and white striped ones you see here. I’ve had them for a while and they are not available anymore but here are some lovely ginger jars you could coordinate with your colour scheme. Place them on either side of your mirror.


1. Wayfair  | 2. Wayfair | 3. Wayfair | 4. Overstock | 5. Overstock | 6. Overstock (good for a tall mantle)

3. Add a Vase of Flowers

You can never have too many vessels to hold potted plants. I bought some pretty faux white and orange roses to coordinate with my temple jars but you could also buy some Kalanchoes, which are my favourite potted plant.

If you buy them from the grocery store when they are just starting to bloom, they can last over two months.  Don’t forget a couple coffee table books to give your flowers some height. I also inserted some limes for filler.

Read more: How to style a vignette if 5 easy steps

Here are some arrangements you can purchase already made:


1. Joss & Main  | 2. Joss & Main3. Joss & Main4. Joss & Main  | 5. Joss & Main

4. Use Coffee Table Books to Add Height

Place your vase of flowers on a few coffee table books. It looks better if there are some varying heights in your tablescapes and vignettes. I love to use coffee table books – especially when the book jacket or cover relates to the colours in my decor. 

Don’t have any books? There are lots of Etsy shops selling curated groups of coffee table books.  Style magazines stacked up work well too. But, you can find coffee table books on the cheap at HomeSense (Home Goods), thrift stores, used book stores, etc. Just start collecting them now so you’ll have them at the ready when you need to change up your mantel or tablescape. 

5. Fill in empty space with a few simple trinkets that reflect your style

I love these vintage brass cranes. They are skinny enough to tuck in between my decor and add a little height. You can easily find some at Etsy here.

I’m enjoying my art with a colourful city scene I recently picked up from HomeSense. Especially the gerber daisy potted plant that picks up the orange and yellow.

Pumpkin season made it easy to repeat the orange and yellow a little more.

I know a lot of people are already in ‘christmas decorating’ mode where I live but Thanksgiving for my American friends is still on its way so I’m sneaking in an autumn post a little late!

Have a lovely weekend!

Related post:

Add Some Brown to your Living Room Using Brown (I Did)

Fresh or Fake Flowers Yay or Nay?

Are Your Accessories Dated?



102 pins


  • gary says:

    Nicely done, What colors did you use on your walls and ceiling? provides a great canvass.

  • Sharon AJJ says:

    Maria, your posts always seem to be perfectly timed for something I’m thinking about! Styling mantels is no exception.

    We have a narrow mantel (5.5 inches) on a gas fireplace we just updated, replacing some very ugly floor tile that was all over the surround and hearth with natural soapstone (ours has a very blue-gray tone, not green). We also painted our house BM Oxford White and had the mantel surround painted black. Here’s my dilemma: our living room ceiling is 18 feet high. I am being encouraged to put a large piece of art over the fireplace to try to fill (or at least partially fill) that space. But if I do that, I feel stuff on the mantel will look too busy. And I love being able to play with seasonal mantel vignettes, especially since our house has limited spots for display, and I have some interesting family and found treasures I like to look at.

    So, finally, here’s my question: although our house is very light-filled, could I put a thin-framed tall mirror over the fireplace so I can still have my mantel vignettes, or would I use a standard-sized mirror and ignore the unfilled wall above, or should I bow to conventional wisdom and put a big piece of art and nothing on the mantel? (I know you haven’t seen our house, but as a general rule, what is your advice in such a situation?)

    • Juliana B says:

      Hi Maria, I have a similar case to Sharon’s. I have a double faced gas fireplace that faces my living room and family room. We spend most of the time in the family room and I have a hard time styling that side of it as we have a large flat screen TV on top of the mantel. What would you recommend in that case? I appreciate your guidance! Thank you!

  • Téa says:

    Agree about the chaise NOT being optimum for “regular” seating – we put on in our vacation house – awkward when we have guests over for drinks before dinner and someone’s wearing a dress! I didn’t think it thru and am stuck with it for the time being…never again!

  • Margaret says:

    Do you know where I could purchase that colorful city scene or something similar on line?

  • Lucy says:

    Nice tutorial Maria! Your color scheme looks so clean and happy. Love your street scene picture. I tell my clients you need to start your pallet from a picture or a rug. Most people just choose colors at random with no thought of flow. Your room looks so inviting and coordinatd that it says come in and get comfortable! As far as the sofa chase subject, you are so right that it doesn’t make a good seating arrangement. That being said however, I have specified them several times this year for family rooms and especially narrow rooms. I guess they do have a purpose. They now come so that you can put the chaise on either end of the sofa or move it away and use it for an ottoman.

    I so wish I could see you when you are here on the 15th in California. Unfortunately I have a house that I am staging and it needs to be ready by the 16th so it can be filmed on the 17th. ?

  • Fran W. says:

    Beautiful! I love the addition of orange in the room! Also glad to see you’re not rushing Christmas. Fall is such a beautiful season!

  • Carol says:

    Years ago I bought a chaise. I purchased it from Germany; it is smaller in proportion, has a back on both sides, and the long side lifts up for storage underneath. I couldn’t find anything like that in the U.S. and it has worked out very well. My only regret is I chose a tweedy brown fabric rather than an off white.

  • Maria says:

    How would one determine what size mirror to place above a mantel?

    • Maria Killam says:

      That would depend on how fat your ginger jars were that you’re placing on both sides. However too big is better than too small. Hope that helps! Maria

  • Angela N says:

    I totally agree about a chaise. I typically specify an ottoman to use in place of a chaise, that way at least there is some flexibility in placement- it can be moved away from the sofa to offer additional seating or as another place to put a tray for serving.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I agree that a chaise there is the better way to go in the end. A sofa with a chaise is limited and could be at the wrong end when you move!Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    Your mantel looks great. I like that you added something vintage…the brass birds. I think vintage pieces give a space some soul.
    For the last year or so I find myself favoring an asymmetrical mantel. It feels more casual to me.
    Lookey there…I’m evolving!

  • Val says:

    Any tips on corner mantels?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well you could just prop up the mirror if you can’t hang it. If the round mirror doesn’t look good this way you could use a rectangular or square mirror! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Lorri says:

    Maria, I agree with every word you said about sectionals.

    They are not the answer, except for when they ARE the answer. My sister recently got a U-shape sectional with one end of the U as a chaise. The chaise juts out near the fireplace without blocking it, and the back of the shorter love seat section divides a very long family room/dining/kitchen configuration. She found a smaller coffee table.

    It was the perfect solution and I have rarely seen a sectional look that great in a room. It’s so appealing and inviting that you find yourself craving to lie on that chaise near the fireplace.

  • Pam Blodgett says:

    Thank you for your timely mantel post. I have been stumped as to how to decorate my two story brick fireplace mantel. I’d been thinking of doing a mirror, but hadn’t thought of a round one. I am wondering…does one decorate the mantel on a two story fireplace the same as any other or must the decor pieces be taller to fill more of the upward expanse?

    • Maria Killam says:

      I would go taller for sure but it depends, if you have moulding to break it up you could possibly get away with just the lower area! Hope that helps, Maria

  • Maria, I’m loving the round mirrors and have used several times. I don’t know if anyone else has this issue with using mirrors on mantles watching what it reflects into…in your case it works, but when you have a big ceiling fan that’s the only thing you see reflected into it! Makes me crazy to see that, but here in the midwest people are “married” to their ceiling fans!

  • irene fraser says:

    love that room Maria

  • Vicki says:

    I’m sorry to say I’m just not feeling the fireplace vinette. IMHO I think the mirror is too small and needs to be at least 12″ larger overall. With the two large bookcases on either side it makes the room height look much shorter. The two orange striped ginger jars are very overwhelming…one would suffice. Everything on the mantel is the same height across and needs a taller piece on one of the ends or the flowers could simply be moved to the right side with more books under it for height. I really like the table vinettte on the other side of the room…a nice variance of heights and colour. Thank you for inspiring us to all take an objective look at our mantelscapes.

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