Our living room was the second room that we fully styled in the house - our dining room was first, but only because it was the result of simply moving in everything that had been in our dining room in Houston (ta-da!). Even so, I left the mantel undecorated for a year, because I wasn't sure what, if anything, belonged up there. Especially since our shelves on either side of the TV are so styled. I didn't want the space to feel busy or cluttered. After a year of leaving things be and many hours of Pinterest board exploring, I finally knew what I wanted (ish). While every space is different, I think there are a few tricks I learned along the way that would be helpful to anyone. So, here are my tips and tricks for mantel styling.
1. KNOW YOUR VIBE
This was key for us! I tried replicating some mantels we had loved (Fixer Upper, I'm looking at you!), and we ended up being underwhelmed and disappointed. You see, our style isn't cottage chic. It's not rustic. It's clean-lined eclectic, with some old world charm and a splash of surrealism. Once I took everything back and started looking for pieces that fit with that vibe, we started to win.
2. TIE IT IN
There are some motifs in our living room that we used to make our mantel feel like it was part of the space. Surrealist-inspired high-gloss white porcelain pieces are prevalent in our space, so it made sense to include one on the mantel. We found what we were looking for in a half bust that doubles as a vase. We also have a lot of black ironwork in the space, so we went that route with our candlesticks. We love our wax flameless candles, so we added three to the mantel. I collect old books, so we placed a few of those on the mantel. The art is all personal (we call our home the natural history museum of us). I hand stitched the voice pattern, and it's me saying "Olive Juice", our code for I Love You.
3. PAY MORE ATTENTION TO LINES THAN COLORS
Those candlesticks? They were gold when I got them. But I knew I could easily change the color with some spray paint. $7 later, they were perfect. Don't be afraid to purchase pieces you can easily customize.
4. PLAY WITH HEIGHT & SETS OF THREE
I picked this one up from Pinterest/aka every design blog in the world, but it's true: our mantel looks best with three varying heights on each side, and the tallest object in the middle.
5. KEEP EVERYTHING ODD
If you want your mantel to be balanced but interesting, keep everything an odd number. Three on each side (which makes six!) so we have the mirror as our focal point (bringing it back to 7).
My last tip? Rules were made to be broken, and my rules aren't really rules anyway! Do whatever feels the most like you in your space, and you're bound to love it.
You can shop some of the pieces I used in this space below (including the gold candlesticks I painted black).
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