In this post: Looking for fall mantel decor ideas? Here’s how to bring seasonal flavor to your autumn mantel in three easy steps.⇒
There’s something about a mantel shelf that just begs to be decorated.
And what better time to do that than the fall season?
Sure, it may not require the lush garlands, stockings and baubles of Christmas, but it’s still prime time to feature the colorful gifts of autumn.
If you want to refresh your living spaces with a nod to the current season, follow these simple steps for mantel styling, no matter what decor style you favor.
Fall Mantel Decor
The very first step, before choosing even one item to present on your mantel, is to think about your vision and zero in on a concept. This is the time to select a color story, choose any key pieces or collections to feature, and decide on the tone and character that you want to project.
For this mantel, I chose a palette of rich berries and mossy greens, and immediately knew they’d best be showcased using lush velvet pumpkins. I decided, as well, to reflect the colors through a range of florals, and those two ideas became the essence of my approach.
But once you have a concept, what comes next?
Tall End Pieces
When styling any mantel, I typically break up the space into 3 distinct sections and then select the decorative components based on my visual concept. I generally start with either the center focal point or statuesque end pieces.
In this case, I opted to work with the vases that I keep on the mantel all year long, adding seasonal elements for character and flavor. So, I began with the tall amphora vases that flank the gilded mantel mirror.
I chose tall berry-toned flowers to emphasize the vases’ stature, taking advantage of their narrow top opening. These delicate blooms provide lighthearted movement at the outermost ends of the mantel. The light-colored vases balance the rich colors in my palette.
Low Fill-in Items
I love to play with varying heights and levels, and almost always keep the tallest pieces at the outer ends.
Next I built a low, irregular “runner” or garland type effect, using velvet pumpkins in varied sizes. I love these little gems for the gorgeous way they display color, with a rich sheen and delightful slouch supplied by the bean bag stuffing. The pliable filling allows for flexibility in layout, and I layer the items in based on color variety and assorted sizing. I try to ensure no two pumpkins are facing the same direction, propping some up against the backdrop or leaning them against each other.
I included two birch bark candles for their rustic attitude, then tucked in lovely pale pink roses for a note of feminine chic.
Center Focal Point
At the center, I once again elected to use the antiqued vase that typically sits there, as I delight in its rugged personality, especially when played off the rich velvet pumpkins. I love the contrast of rustic with chic and the pairing keeps the whole enterprise from getting too precious.
I filled the vase with pale lilac stems (I meant to make a note of the flower names, but alas, I forgot to…) and let them fall naturally with an occasional charming lilt.
It’s rare that I keep the centerpiece the same height as the tall ends, and I could easily have removed the wooden box that the vase rests on, but I like the light wood tone and respite it gives the eye, so I kept it in place to break up all that dark color.
If you break up your mantel into these three zones, you can fill in the areas with any decorative items that you like. It doesn’t have to be completely symmetrical, as long as you have balance. If you don’t have two of the same vase, use different ones that relate in a balanced way. In that case I would vary the heights slightly, but keep them similar to ensure harmony.
This is the same tactic I used for the bark candles, and even for the layout of the velvet pumpkins. The overall impact is one of symmetry, but the sides are actually varied for more interest.
Framing the whole scene is the most formal component, an antique French mirror with delicate detailing. I like using a mirror as my mantel backdrop as it reflects the items without adding too much background color. If you have artwork above your fireplace, your mantel display will have to be a good bit quieter.
The rest of the room is quite neutral, which is what makes it so easy to add seasonal decor in. I could have selected any color palette for my mantel display and it would have worked in the space.
I tossed a few more velvet pumpkins amid my textured tonal pillows, to spread the theme out a little more beyond the mantelscape.
I also brought out of storage a faded linen floral pillow, as it fit well with my palette of moss and berries. The nubby throw blanket is at once tonal and textured, working with the general aesthetic of the rest of the room.
The textures and colors really benefit by the light and this room is blessed with many windows throughout.
I left the coffee table styling as it always is, as the vintage pastoral pieces define the character of the room, and in fact my entire home. They mirror the bucolic aspect of the vases on the mantel and help lend a cohesive touch.
If you want to bring a taste of autumn into your living spaces, consider decorating a mantel by breaking it into the three zones. Then pick your palette, choose elements that highlight your concept, and get to work styling the surface with these easy steps.
No mantel? No worries! The same concept can be applied to a shelf or console table, as well!
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