Look­book: How to make your man­tel­piece look amaz­ing.

How to style your man­tel­piece so it an­chors the room and cre­ates a fo­cal point that re­flects who you are


Awell-styled man­tel­piece should tell a story – about who lives here and what they love. Once you’ve se­lected pieces that mean some­thing to you, an eye-catch­ing man­tel­piece ar­range­ment is all about bal­ance, con­trast, colour and avoid­ing clut­ter.


A stand­out piece of art, sculp­ture or a mir­ror hung above the fire is the best start­ing point when styling your man­tel­piece and will set the tone for the items ar­ranged below it. Scale is im­por­tant; make sure it’s big enough to hold its own. And be care­ful when hang­ing mir­rors. If you hang one above a par­tic­u­larly high man­tel­piece all you’ll be able to see is the top of your head, which is dis­con­cert­ing.

Then any­thing goes when choos­ing items to dis­play, says stylish home­owner Cathy Gould, a past win­ner of best liv­ing room in the NZ House & Gar­den In­te­rior of the Year awards.

“But do make it per­sonal – they should be trea­sured pieces.” You can use plants, small sculp­tures or some­thing from the nat­u­ral world – Cathy has been known to add a bird’s nest to her man­tel­piece ar­range­ment.

Think about con­trast – the art or mir­ror above the fire­place is likely to be shiny, so con­sider ad­ding matt or softer tex­tures. And con­trast­ing heights will add in­ter­est too. >


Bal­ance is all im­por­tant when it comes to ar­range­ment – but either a sym­met­ri­cal or an asym­met­ri­cal look can work. A col­lec­tion of items on one end of the man­tel­piece can be ef­fec­tively bal­anced by one strong item on the other end. Groups of three or five items work well in an ar­range­ment, says Cathy, but avoid clut­ter at all costs.

When styling a man­tel­piece it’s best to stick to a sim­ple colour pal­ette, but if you choose one or two items that tie into the colour scheme of the room, the whole thing will hang to­gether bet­ter.


If your fire­place is not in use, it’s a good idea to fill it. Cathy sug­gests lightly spray­ing pine cones with gold or sil­ver paint and trail­ing some ivy through them – there is some ex­cel­lent ar­ti­fi­cial fo­liage avail­able. Other op­tions could in­clude grapevine cut­tings wound into a ball or even a wreath.

THIS PAGE (from top) Light­ing sconces, either can­dlelit or elec­tric, can add at­mos­phere to a man­tel­piece ar­range­ment. The colours in this bold art­work are re­peated in both the man­tel­piece and the items on it, cre­at­ing a har­mo­nious com­po­si­tion.

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