Cozy Up with These Fall Mantel Decor Ideas
Fall is many people’s favorite season, and even if it’s not, you can’t deny all the great decorations that hit the shelves before the first leaf even drops. Decorating your home for fall is exciting, and one area, in particular, can really make the living room pop: the mantel. However, the constrained dimensions of the mantel can also make it difficult to decorate, especially if you’ve never done it before. Below, we offer nine tips that will help you design the fall mantel decor of your dreams. Then, we offer 10 ideas that you can mix and match to create the ideal fall mantel decor–from live pumpkins to apple scented candles.
Think about the space as a whole.
Your mantel isn’t an isolated space. It has to work with the entire living room. Even if this is a seasonal display that you plan to change out regularly, you still want it to work well with the rest of your decor instead of clashing with it. Take a look at your living room aesthetic to see if there are any colors or design motifs that you can incorporate into your fall mantel ideas. For instance, if you have a lot of oranges and reds in your rug, you can use those colors as a basis for your mantel decor. If the artwork has a lot of plants and other natural motifs, you can make that your theme for your fall mantelpiece.
Measure your mantel.
We know you’re excited to buy things to decorate your mantel, but before you go on a wild buying spree, you need to measure your mantel to make sure that everything fits. Grab a tape measure and measure both the width and the length of your mantel. You should also make a note of how much vertical space you’re working with. Keep in mind that you probably don’t want to take things all the way up to the ceiling, which will make the mantel look crowded. Jot down these measurements and refer to them as you shop for fall mantel decor.
Choose a color palette.
Before you begin to buy things, you should also choose a color palette. Popular fall colors include reds, oranges, yellows, browns and muted greens, all of which mimic the colors of changing leaves. However, you can also make more unusual hues work, such as blues and purples. It depends on the other colors you already have in your living room, as well as whether you want a more traditional fall look or you’re looking to be adventurous. There’s no right or wrong color palette for a fall-inspired mantel. It’s whatever you like best!
Decide on a focal point.
Most mantels, especially large ones, have one single big object that acts as a focal point. In some houses, this will be the TV, if you have it mounted over the fireplace. In other homes, it may be a large mirror or piece of artwork. In bigger spaces, having a focal point helps anchor the eye and takes up more space so the mantel doesn't become cluttered with a bunch of smaller objects. You don’t have to have a focal point. In fact, if you have a small mantel, you might not want a focal point so you have more space to work with. However, if you decide to go with a focal point, you should choose that piece first so you can coordinate everything else with it.
Work with different heights.
As you purchase decor for your mantel, make sure that you’re buying objects in different heights. If everything's the same height, it’s all going to blend together and your eye won’t know where to land. For maximum visual appeal, place objects of different heights next to each other to create contrast and interest. If your mantel is wide enough, you should also style in horizontal layers, putting shorter objects in front of taller objects (for example, a candle in front of a framed print). Not every mantel is wide enough for this, but if yours is, working in layers is a great way to add some visual interest to your fall mantel decor ideas.
Go symmetrical or asymmetrical.
As you decide where to place everything on your mantel, you’ll need to decide whether you want a symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangement. Both can look fantastic, so it’s up to you which look you prefer. A symmetric arrangement is a good choice if you have multiples of the same object, while an asymmetric arrangement works if you have an eclectic bunch of different objects that you want to display. If you decide to go with an asymmetric arrangement, make sure that it still remains balanced overall and that you don’t have too many objects clustered to one side. Asymmetrical doesn’t mean lopsided!
Don’t over-decorate the mantel…
When decorating any space, it’s tempting to overload it with as many objects as possible. After all, you have tons of cute decorations and you want to show them off! But if you clutter your mantel with too many things, you won’t be able to see all of them or properly appreciate them, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of decorating your mantel. Choose what you want to display on your mantel carefully, and find homes for the other objects in different areas of your house. They deserve to have their own space to shine on a shelf or buffet, rather than being thrown together with a bunch of other stuff on the mantel.
...but don’t under-decorate it either.
On the flip side, you don’t want a mantelpiece that’s too sparse. Yes, a minimalist mantel can work, especially in a small space, but it needs to be intentional. If you want a more minimalist mantelpiece, you have to choose your pieces with extra care because there are fewer of them, and thus they get way more attention than a more crowded decoration. Try going with a big piece of art as a focal point and then surrounding it with a few decorative objects to add some visual interest. With so little clutter on the mantel, the artwork will really pop and take over the space.
Create a fake mantel with a shelf.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a fireplace, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your fall mantel decor dreams a reality. A wall shelf of sufficient depth and length can be turned into a faux mantel with the right decorations. If you have very high ceilings in your living room, you can also extend the effect of the mantel by installing coordinating shelving about the real mantel and then decorating it accordingly. Make sure not to overload the shelf and check the weight limits for the screws and brackets before placing something heavy on it to prevent an accident.
Now that you know how to decorate a mantel, it’s time to browse fall mantel ideas for inspiration:
Pumpkins and Gourds
No list of fall decor is complete without mentioning pumpkins and their cousins, the decorative gourds. You can get the real thing at local markets and farms, or get decorative versions made of wood, fabric or other materials that you can use year after year. You can also incorporate pumpkins and gourds into other pieces of decor, such as creating a wreath from mini versions.
Pinecones and Branches
If you want a natural motif, but you’re looking for something a bit more original than pumpkins, then you can incorporate pinecones and branches into your mantel instead. You can collect them yourself or buy them pre-decorated from stores. Pinecones and branches are also a great complement to pumpkins, gourds, and other items on this list.
Another classic fall mantel decor idea is leaves. You can scatter these across the mantel or look for leaf designs on other items such as leaves and banners. Leaves die quickly once they’re off the tree, so if you want some to scatter around, you should probably look for fake leaves made of fabric, plastic or other materials that will keep their color.
This classic fall fruit is a highlight of pies everywhere, but it’s underutilized when it comes to decorating. If you want a natural element that’s unexpected, you can’t go wrong with apples. Real apples will keep at room temperature for a few weeks, or you can get some fakes one for a look that will stay fresh all season long.
Garlands and Banners
If you want to add some swag to your mantel, you can do it literally with a garland or banner hung from the corners. Use push pins to hang them up, or Command hooks for a temporary attachment. Make sure not to hang them too low if you actually use your fireplace. You don’t want them to accidentally catch fire, especially if they’re made of easily flammable material like paper.
Your mantel is the perfect place to display your best fall scented candles as soon as the weather turns. Place them directly on the mantel, or elevate them on pedestals to call attention to them. If you’re planning to burn the candles (and why wouldn’t you?), make sure to keep them away from drafts and don’t put any other decorations above them that might catch fire from the flames.
If you want to turn your candles into even more of a design statement, you can put them in a metal and glass lantern. If you’re planning to burn the candles in the lantern, make sure that you buy some that have good ventilation at the top. If you notice soot forming on the glass, take care to wipe it down regularly; otherwise, it will build up and obscure the glass.
If you don’t already have something hanging above the fireplace, a wreath is an excellent way to take up some of that wall space and create a focal point without having to rest something on the mantel and block shelf space. Choose a seasonal wreath made from other materials on this list, such as leaves, branches, pinecones and burlap. If you’re feeling especially crafty, there are also many tutorials that explain how to DIY your own.
Signs, Prints and Frames
Art is a great addition to any kind of mantel decor, no matter the season, and there are so many fall-themed pieces out there that you’re sure to find something that you like. Choose one big piece of art to anchor the whole thing, or do a cluster of smaller pieces for a gallery effect. You can even place empty frames for an artistic and unexpected look.
Choosing accents made from fabric can add texture and visual interest to your mantel. If you want more of a luxurious look, opt for velvet. Fabric pumpkins made of velvet are a particularly nice touch. If you’re going for more of a rustic aesthetic, burlap will fit the bill perfectly and is easy to make into banners, wreaths and other decor.
Creating a gorgeous fall mantel takes a little bit of advance planning, but it’s so worth it to see the end result. Follow this guide to create a fantastic fall mantel decor. If you’re still looking for inspiration, make sure to shop our fall favorites collection, which includes seasonal classics such as Pumpkin Picking and Apple Orchard.
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