There are certain special things about our ranch house that I really love. Having a long mantel above the living room fireplace is one of them. Not too long ago a friend asked me about decorating their mantel. In all honesty, I’d never thought about actual composition. I hadn’t had a mantel before, but I figured it couldn’t be a whole lot different from arranging treasures on a shelf or sideboard. Usually I just put stuff out, move it back and forth, take stuff away, add more stuff in and then it just “looks right.” But I did find out after some googling that there is a theory behind mantle composition.
Here is a simple illustration and 5 tricks I took from Jenna @ http://www.sasinteriors.net/2011/10/how-to-decorate-a-mantel/
1. Center 1 big piece: Begin in the center and choose something that is of a substantial size, maybe a mirror or artwork that you love. This will be the main focal point of the mantel and will “ground” the other accessories in front.
2. Movement: Choose items that “move” the eye. Whether it be candles which move from the flickering flame or items of varying heights which make the eye move up and down, include accessories that are intriguing and add vision interest.
3. Visual Weight: A secondary focal point that isn’t as big, but still gives a punch, is a great addition to a mantel ensemble. When pulling together a mantel, it’s best to layer one piece in front of another. Choosing a vase with flowers or branches that will sit in front of your “big piece” starts the layering effect.
4. Layering: Whether it be art, photos, candles, or accessories, layering and staggering different sized items in front of each other is a must to create a cohesive composition.
5. Vary Heights: Along with layering, adding accessories of varying heights is more visually engaging. It helps the eye move up and down and across. Between layering and varying heights, you want to create a wave effect with your mantel. It starts out low, then goes up, comes back down, then up again, and finishes low.
This was my mantel at Christmas. My center focal point is actually two large stained glass windows hanging above the mantel (there to stay for now). At Christmas I kept things simple with garland and candles staggered in different heights and groupings. To be honest, I’ve not really done anything decorative with the mantel since Christmas other than remove the garland, so I’m in a bit of a quandary. In fact, I think I’m in a decor dilemma and need help with this long yet narrow space.
Below are a few pictures I took from the internet which show excellent composition and decor. Oh and in the meantime, I am open to suggestions for my own mantel.