I’ve had a few requests for help accessorizing mantels so I thought, why not today? Mantel accessorizing is something that is easiest to do in person- I like to gather lots of objects, art and candlesticks and play around until it feels right. The tricky part is finding a balance between too many and too few things.
Above and below is my mantel in my formal living room and I’ve been very happy with it since I found the right balance. There’s a little symmetry in the pairs of candlesticks and blue small jars, but then the leaning etching and antique bird sculptures keep it from getting too matchy.
For this project we went all in on asymmetry- balancing the tall horn on the left with a leaned sketch (and it’s cool to see the reflection of the horse photograph over the sofa in the mirror- see the rest of the space here). Odd numbers are your friend when accessorizing a mantel.
This was simple and easy– a gorgeous original landscape, a small sketch and a set of three candlesticks of various sizes. Not too much, not too little.
Use what you have too– all these objects were the clients that we arranged the day of the shoot– and play with scale- this painting is “technically” too small for above the fireplace– but the heavy ornate frame makes it work in my opinion because it lends so much weight to the work on the all white walls.
This was an alternate shot of my new book cover (with art as opposed to the black wall version we chose). The mantel here is small and the wall above is square so the circe mirror was a great choice given the sconce placement. Again, a little symmetry in the topiaries, but the offset grouping of three blue and white jars makes it feel right.
I do fine that when you have sconces (unless you have a VERY long mantel) round mirrors are a great choice. We kept this historical mantel VERY simple given all the texture and depth going on in this room.
Another simply adorned mantel- given the modern lines and shallow depth as well as the very large mirror, a pair of candlesticks and an orchid was all we needed to finish this off.
Here are six arrangements of accessories for a mantel that might help get you thinking about how to arrange your own. As you can see, I strongly favor asymmetrical looks and certainly layering of art/ mirrors and objects.
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All imagery by Michael J. Lee and Sarah Winchester for my books.