How to Create a Stylish Mantel for Fall



The fireplace is the focal point of any room, and most of us love decorating our mantels for every season, but mantels can be challenging to style.




I styled our guest room mantel for fall, and  I hope you will find some inspiration in this post to jump start your mantel styling and to encourage you to switch things up for this coming season. When we were looking for a new home, my one “must” was a large fireplace in the living room. {confession, ok…there were a few more “musts” but that was a major one!} I really wanted a fireplace in our bedroom and guestroom too, but that didn’t happen.  A few years ago on a buying trip in Europe, Mr. FGH fell in love with this carved antique mantel, and promptly bought it, saying he would make that fireplace happen in our bedroom. For now, it sits in the guest room, waiting.




Which suits me just fine, it’s another place to decorate!  Anyway, the thing about mantels is that they are fairly significant, they anchor and center your whole room. I played around with our guestroom mantel and came up with a few tips to make styling your mantel easier.




Balance.  I am most drawn to  symmetry in design. Most of my favorite French Country designed rooms often have perfectly symmetrical decorations on the mantel. But you have to take into account the rest of the room. If there are already lots of other pairs in the room {lamps, topiaries etc.} then an asymmetrical mantel will create a huge statement, and feel less matchy.




For this mantel the potted French Lavenders create a symmetrical look. I liked this arrangement, although it’s a little busy. The lavender color adds a pop of a different color, it’s a perfect “transitional” mantel.  I leaned a painting against the wall, stacked a few antique French books to elevate the French ironstone tureen, and added white pumpkins, and a favorite wispy faux garland. {Of course after I took all the photographs, I realized that the pumpkins behind the squirrel should be a little more to the right of him!}


Leaning the painting against the wall gives the mantel some dimension. Because I like to change things quite a lot, I try not to hang things over this mantel with nails. Technically you could leave the area in front of the painting empty, and only style the sides.  Or, only add other things to the front of it like this. Most of the time, when you are layering, uneven numbers of objects look the best. I love how the colors in this mantel arrangement all compliment each other, although it’s busy, it still looks relatively calm.




Vary Heights.


Any mantel will look more interesting if you vary the height of the pieces you arrange on it. If your chosen decorative pieces are somewhat the same height, you can use a stack of books, like I did here to elevate the Limoges Tureen, or a little stool or chair. Anything can be used to elevate your decorative objects.






Use things with different textures to create a seamless, interesting arrangement on your fall mantel.  On our mantel, the ironstone is glossy, the twiggy garland adds lots of fall texture, and the feathers add another textural addition to your fall design.




This isn’t difficult, and should be fun! Just move things around until you get the look that you love, it can be a little quirky, as long as it best expresses YOU!  Creating a home that you love isn’t about being perfect, it’s about creating a place that feels authentic to you and your family, it should evolve as you do.  I hope you start creating a little fall magic at home, and if you have a mantel, it’s a great place to begin!  Once “real” pumpkins become available, I will buy those, and add a larger white one to one side of the arrangement.




Which of these mantel arrangement do you like the best and why?  I’d love to know, I haven’t settled on one yet and could use your help.


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15 thoughts on “How to Create a Stylish Mantel for Fall”

  1. My favorite is the mantle with the feathers in the creamer on top of the books and to the side of the painting. I like the asymmetrical arrangement and the coloring is strictly all Fall! I think I prefer seeing the stack of books somewhere other than right in front of the painting. Truth be told, though, all three arrangements are very attractive!

    1. Vicky, I love the asymmetrical arrangement too. If I’m honest, it’s what I usually end up with on my mantel in the living room too.

    1. I do too, which is why I used them. They remind me of your beautiful France!

  2. Ginger Valdes

    I’m with Vicky too. But I think a third taller pumpkin on the right would look great, and still read as an odd number of items. The contrast between the dark wood and the stoneware and pumpkins makes it “pop”, and the softness of the painting as a backdrop is sublime.

    1. I agree, Ginger. As soon as there are “real” pumpkins available, I will switch these out and add a larger, taller one.

  3. John Paul

    I like all three, but I get that you are just giving us an example of playing around with objects in the post. Mantels are hard to style, as you know, we have a mantel in almost all of our 12 rooms here at the farm! Many of them sport some kind of antique piece we purchased from your FrenchGardenHouse. Love the last one, but we prefer the styling with the squirrel and compote on the books center front, feathers on side.

    1. John Paul, I think I would adore 12 fireplaces, but I know it’s a challenge to make all of them look good. One day we’ll be able to accept your invitation and visit you at the farm, I’m looking forward to that.

  4. Barbara Warkentin

    I love the one with the squirrel and the feathers. It seems to be complete. The others look like something is missing. I also have numerous things from you and love each and everyone. Thank-you…

    1. Thank you Barbara! I love that squirrel, I bring it out each fall and give him {or her!} a new place of honor. I remember you bought one of my favorite 5-o’clock spoons ever a while back, I hope you are still enjoying it.

  5. Nancy Bailey

    I love the last 2 pictures in which you use the ironstone with the white pumpkins and add some of the twiggy garland to the tureen plate. How did you attach the garland to the mantel without it showing or damaging the wood?

    1. Nancy, because the garland is on covered wire, I was able to bend it around the corner and it stayed. I gently pushed a tack into the space right under the “join” of the top shelf and the flat part of the mantel {hope that’s understandable} and wrapped a tendril of garland around that to keep it up. This garland is really lightweight.

  6. Lidy, I am in love with all, but if pressed to choose, I would pick the asymmetrical . You have great styling tips! Pam @ Everyday Living

  7. Hi, Lidy,
    I like them all but my favorite is the painting, love her, but the layer mantel is nice, hate to pick, such great taste~~Enjoy, Happy Fall~~~~~~~~~~

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