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The mantle is usually the focal point of a room, and it is a place where your sense of style and personality can really shine. It can also be a tricky part of the room to decorate because you want to keep it sentimental but at the same time pleasing to the eye, prompting many questions to be answered. What is the right number of items? What about height differentials? What about decorating for a party? I contacted my friend, Kate Jung, a Chicago-based interior decorator, to help me tame the mantle and keep it looking great year round. Here are some of her best tips:

When thinking about decorating the mantle, it’s best to start with a neutral color palette and work from there. By starting with neutral colors, you can easily change out objects or colors throughout the year to decorate for seasons or events. For example, tapered candles can be changed for each season. Try to find larger pieces that can easily be viewed from 6 feet away, and it’s best to have an odd number of items of varying heights. The size of the pieces you have chosen and how they fit together will dictate the number of items, but try to shoot for no more than 9. When thinking about items to avoid placing on the mantle, Kate suggests steering clear of smaller things and too many similar items, such as decorative candles. She also suggested saving family photos for a more personal space, such as a nightstand or bookshelf. 

Here is an example of some staple pieces I found at a discount decorating store. I decided to go with grey and white as a neutral color palette. I can easily change the colors of the candles, fill the glass jar with colorful objects for each season, and hang something festive on the grey board.

Simple Mantle using Staple Pieces
After you’ve purchased your staple items, it’s time to have some fun and decorate! Keep in mind that everything does not need to look symmetrical. You can place the largest item in the middle or even slightly to the left. Also, consider leaning an item against the wall rather than hanging it. 

I decided to lean the grey board against the wall rather than hanging above the mantle. Once you have your staple items in place, you can have fun filling in the rest of the pieces.

I was also curious what Kate thought about the mantle color coordinating with the rest of the room. She suggested that by keeping your mantle’s staple pieces in a neutral color palette, they would go well with the other decor in the room as well as compliment celebratory and seasonal colors. In this picture, I added the egg garland, pastel candles, easter eggs, and a OneTinyHeart banner to complete the Easter mantle.

Easter Mantle

Now that you’ve decorated your mantle for everyday use, you may wonder what you should change when hosting a bridal shower, engagement party, or baby shower. This is where you can really have some fun decorating for the theme or color scheme, and this is also when it’s okay to add more personal touches. For an engagement party, for example, it would be really neat to have a few baby pictures of the couple displayed. You can also add other things from around the house that would be appropriate and useful for the party (ie, a cute beer bottle opener!) And of course....adding a hand made banner from OneTinyHeart would be the perfect touch!


Kristin Lewis is the creator of OneTinyHeart, offering handmade banners, cake toppers, and gift bags for all occasions from weddings and showers to birthdays and holidays. Every item listed in her shop is completely customizable and arrives ready to use on your special day. Visit Kristin's shop and email her at to learn more!

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