Chillier temperatures are on the way, and there’s nothing better than sparking a cozy blaze in the fireplace when there’s a snap in the air. The mantel is a visual focal point of a room, and it should be treated as a piece of furniture rather than a part of the room’s architecture. The design specialists at Gary Riggs Home have collected a few of their favorite ways to warm up a mantel during the chilly months ahead.

Three Plus One

There’s a simple rule decorators use for mantels called “three plus one.”

Start by selecting a group of three similar objects—such as candles, framed pictures, or figurines—that are of different heights but are aesthetically alike. Group the three objects on one end of the mantel by layering them rather than lining them up. Leave some space between the objects so they don’t appear to be crammed together.

Now take one large object—such as a vase, pot or plate—and place it on the opposite side of the mantel (but not up against the very end). This item should have the same visual mass of the three objects on the other side.

Between these three-plus-one objects, include an eye-catching piece of artwork, a mirror, a large clock or something similar as the central focus of the mantel.

Change is Good

When you change your mantel’s décor, you can transform the feel of an entire room. Sometimes the change can be as subtle as swapping out the flowers in a vase.

Coordinating your mantel décor with the seasons is another way to spice up a room. For fall, pair up organic elements such as branches of colorful fall leaves with decorative gourds. Accent these with accessories like brass pots, rustic baskets or amber glass containers or mason jars filled with unshelled nuts and winter berries. Hang strands of acorns or crabapples across the bottom of the mantel for an extra-autumnal touch.

Decorating Around Your TV


Many people wish to hang their flat-screen TV above the mantel, which can make it a challenge to decorate without obstructing your view. The best way to approach this dilemma is to keep the mantel décor symmetrical.

If your TV does not take up the length of the mantel, you can place large matching items on each end of the mantel. Decorative, large candles, glass vases and potted plants are good choices. Fill the empty space below the television with a long, narrow tray of wood or pewter.

To give the mantel some balance, you can place a decorative screen in front of the fireplace with large accessories—such as large wooden candleholders, wicker baskets, urns or perhaps even a few inflammable throw pillows—on either side of the hearth.