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Published: Thursday, 1/15/2009

Mantel Magic


Have you tried to decorate the mantel, but with little success? Could you use a few pointers on dressing up a mantel?

Before you do anything, you must first study the room, fireplace and mantel. What is the feel of the room overall? Are you going for a casual or more formal look? What are the dimensions and style of the fireplace? Is it a small, round modern fireplace or a large, classic fireplace? What aspects of the fireplace do you want to play up? Do you want the focus to be on the chunky mantel or the polished stonework? The answers to these questions will help you decide what items to display on the mantel as well as how to arrange them.

There are several methods of arrangement. The simplest involves symmetry. Gather together the objects you would like to display and arrange them on the mantel so that each side mirrors the other. Set a large plate in the middle of the mantel, for example, and flank it on each side with brass candlesticks and smaller plates or picture frames.

If symmetry is not your thing, you could try creating an asymmetrical arrangement. For this, you don't need pairs of objects. Instead you can place one large heavy object like a candlestick on one side and balance it out on the other with a couple of smaller items like vases.

If you have a rather large item that would serve as a focal point and anchor the arrangement, you could try a radial arrangement. Set it in the middle of the mantel and arrange all other items around it, either symmetrically or asymmetrically.

Whatever method of arrangement you choose, keep in mind that you don't have to cover the mantel. While a few items will work well on some mantels, the reverse is true on others. Again, this depends on the feel of the room, the size and shape of the fireplace, and the emphasis you want to create. If you are looking to create a modern room and draw attention to the small but unusual fireplace, using a few items may work well, whereas if you have a homier room with a nice mantel, filling it with a wide array of items may be ideal.

Dressing the mantel is simply not a matter of tossing a few items onto it. For the best impact, you need to experiment with the selection and arrangement of items until you find one that complements and adds to the d cor of the room.

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