Let’s talk about fall mantel decor! One of the first things I do at the beginning of a new season is decorate my mantel. It sets the tone for the rest of the decor in my home. I have tons of easy ideas for decorating this important focal point in your home!
Today’s post is a guidebook for creating the best fall mantel using tried and true interior design concepts that I have broken down into easy-to-understand, repeatable processes YOU can use to create the best fall mantels!
This is a huge post and you can almost use it as a mini decorating course. Work through each topic, one at a time, and read all the relevant posts I suggest and this post will give you lots of decorating know-how and confidence to decorate a fall mantel and more!
These ideas can work on any flat surface in your home like a table or buffet! You can see how to use this fall mantel to decorate other places in your home further down the post!
This post is loaded with ideas and lots and lots of pictures and different ways to style a mantel with just a few changes. So grab a drink and let’s decorate a fall mantel!
There are a few things to remember when decorating a mantel that will help you create the prettiest seasonal one!
LET’S START WITH A DEFAULT MANTEL
This year’s early fall mantel is about adding fall-inspired branches and pretty lanterns to the living room. I’m saving the more quintessential fall decor until a bit later.
August and early September are a great time to style a fall default mantel.
Default, meaning a preset mantel in this instance, is one that most of the elements on the mantel stay the same.
Once you create a default mantel it will work through Christmas and with just a few changes and tweaks as the seasons change! I’ll show you how I changed my default mantel for each season and holiday in upcoming posts!
Up from the basement came some curated fall decor to put together a default fall mantel. I found the branches at a local shop and knew they world work this fall. Then I found the white ginger jars that I have had for-ever! And I thought they would be the perfect vase for the branches.
Every year I go through my fall stash and cull everything! Those things I no longer want I usually give away or sell. And I buy a couple things every season that will add tons of beauty to my home! I try to buy things that will work with the season at hand and others too!
So with a few decorating attempts, I came up with what I call my early fall default mantel!
It’s simple and checks all the decorating best practice boxes.
So let’s talk about how to decorate fall mantel decor and create something special… and easy!
GIVE A NOD TO THE SEASON
Make sure to add a little fall magic to your mantel this year! There are so many beautiful things you can use to create a mantel to get noticed!
Go easy on fall mantel decor in August to mid-September. Then start adding things like pumpkins and gourds later in the season.
Below I used orange candles instead of white in the candleholders on the mantel! A small but interesting change.
And here is the same default mantel with a few pumpkins…
You might like the things on the list to decorate a mantel or long flat surface. If you think of more please share them in the comments at the bottom of the post.
- fall leaves and branches
- fall faux flowers
- wheat sheaves
- pheasant feathers
- cat o’ nine tales
THINK ABOUT THE WALL BEHIND YOUR MANTEL
Before you put one thing on your mantel you should consider what you put on the wall behind it.
Notice the little goldtone candle next to the ginger jar. So sweet, but I digress!
The wall behind the mantel is prime decorating real estate! So make it count and put something on the wall that is big and pretty and works with the rest of your home.
I have a “gather” sign (see it HERE) and a white tobacco basket on the wall behind my mantel. It is light and has very little visual weight making it nondistracting. You should know about visual weight when you decorate anything including a mantel.
Whatever you choose to go on the wall behind your mantel, hang it low and close to the mantel. One mistake home decorators make is they hang things over their mantel way too high which makes the item look like it’s floating and odd and not part of the whole mantel look. (A little tough love!)
The idea is to make the mantel and what you hang over it look like one piece! If there is too much room between what you hang on the wall and the mantel your hanging piece will look disjointed!
If you have thought there was something that looks not quite right about your mantel this may be it! And what an easy fix!
THE MAGIC OF THREE
I mention the magic of three so often. It is one of the best ways I know to create instant beauty and it’s so so simple. Grouping three items together will create a very happy synergistic relationship between them and a decorating home run!
Here is the trio using an orange candle. I’m sure you have your favorite but just look how three simple objects can create beauty!
Our eyes love items grouped in threes and perceive those groupings as something worth looking at!
So use the magic of three on your mantel!
SYMMETRICAL FALL MANTEL DECOR WILL ALWAYS LOOK BEAUTIFUL
Another thing our eyes just love is symmetry.
Symmetry is easily described as things that are mirror images. There are several in the picture below…
In other words, symmetry is styling decor on one side of something, like a wall or mantel, or table or fireplace or bed so it looks like a mirror image of something you styled on the other side.
Doing this will create instant appeal!
I tend to buy things in twos just for this reason. I’ll buy two pillows or candles or lanterns or vases or chairs or pictures that are the same because I know creating symmetry with them in a room is so easy and will look fabulous.
Don’t miss this decorating tip, friend… Buy, collect or borrow two of the same item when you can!
Symmetry works wonderfully on a mantel. Actually, I like the symmetry on my early fall mantel this year. It looks clean and pretty.
A LITTLE ASYMMETRIC FALL MANTEL DECOR CAN LOOK ATTRACTIVE TOO
Asymmetry is a form of symmetry, did you know that?
Asymmetry is when one side of something (like a mantel) looks a bit different than the other side. And often has some of the same elements on both sides.
Can you see what things are the same and what items are different on the mantel? It’s not quite a mirror image it?
This difference causes a little decorating tension! And our eyes pick it up immediately because they are always trying to make sense of all the surroundings.
And sometimes a little bit of tension is wonderful! Our eyes can read a bit of asymmetry as creative and a little different in a good way! Just remember a little bit is good. Lots of asymmetries will look confusing and literally hurt our eyes, decoratively speaking,.
Asymmetric fall mantel decor is a bit harder to pull off well and takes a little more effort than symmetrical fall mantel decor. But it’s worth the effort!
I used the default fall mantel and styled one side a bit differently. The goal, for me, was to have a balanced and asymmetrical look.
You can read about asymmetry in my post The Elements Of Decor… Balance.
Start styling an asymmetrical fall mantel by creating a symmetrical mantel first and then change out a few items on one side. Strive for a balanced look. The things on each side may be a little different but one side does not read heavier than the other. Again, it’s important to learn about VISUAL WEIGHT!
Think of an old fashioned scale. When you weigh the visual weight of one side of the mantel it should be close to the visual weight of other side, hence balancing the scale!
Arranging and rearranging your fall mantel decor is the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t.
And here’s another great tip: TAKE PICTURES WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE! I say my smartphone is my best assistant! It often tells me what I can’t see myself!
BE CHOOSEY WHERE DECOR IS PLACED ON A MANTEL
Even a mantel needs a little breathing room or negative space. You don’t need to decorate the entire mantel.
I like to decorate with large fall mantel decor and that usually means mostly decorating the left and right sides of the mantel.
I like a less-is-more approach to mantels most of the time. You might want to read about Less Is Best Decorating here.
A crowded mantel, unless a very artistic one, just looks messy!
Here’s how I’m decorating the mantel as fall becomes cooler and the pumpkin fields are dotting the countryside and the leaves are just starting to dress in saturated colors…I’m adding a few pumpkins to my symmetrical mantel.
I used the same fall default mantel and added three pumpkins to the middle of the mantel. There is still lots of negative space on this mantel so it looks clean and attractive.
You will see this mantel again later this fall!
You might like to read about Negative Space HERE.
VARY HEIGHTS ON A MANTEL
Another thing our eyes love is to see different heights. Our eyes read this as interesting.
So when we are talking about beautiful fall mantel decor we want to put things on our mantels that are different heights!
Choose the decor carefully for your mantel!
And if your decor is somewhat the same size, no problem, create a riser with books to help them become a little taller.
THINK ABOUT TEXTURE
Our eyes read how everything in a room feels! When we look at something we can say, oh, that’s bumpy or smooth or shiny or fluffy or rough. When we vary texture in our fall mantel decor it is a delight to our eyes!
You might like to read about Texture, The Best Kept Secret.
BRING YOUR DECOR DOWN ON THE HEARTH
Here’s a very easy little tip that will up your fall mantel’s good looks! Bring a bit of fall mantel decor down to your hearth. That will direct our eyes to look around a bit and pick up other interesting things!
It will also give your mantel a finished look.
I’ve been collecting goldtone decor since last Christmas. I had this sweet little lantern so I used it on the hearth. You should see how pretty it looks when the battery timed light goes on and flickers!
USING THE SAME FALL MANTEL DECOR ON A BUFFET
I’m so over the moon about showing you how I use some of the same fall items on my white buffet!
I did this to gently repeat and repeat again that when you see “mantel decorating” in the title of a post you should pay attention. Don’t say, “Oh, boy (sarcastic) another mantel. I’ve seen a thousand”. Really, I know you wouldn’t say that but it helped to make an important point!
You can use mantel ideas to decorate any long flat surface in your home!
You might have to edit them to fit your surface but all those great mantel ideas are so easy to transfer to a table or buffet or credenza and more!
Here is my white buffet dressed up for early fall with some of the same decor I used on my mantel…
And here’s how pumpkins on the white buffet would look…
So next time you see ANYTHING about styling a mantel perk up! You can use these ideas even when you don’t have a mantel!
USE WHAT YOU LOVE
This is YOUR home so use the fall mantel decor YOU love!
Who says you need to use orange pumpkins? You might love pinecones and they can look very nice on a fall mantel.
If you want to use faux branches filled with colorful leaves then make them the star of your mantel!
It’s all about decor that looks nice to you and makes you smile every time you see it! And that my friend, is my best fall mantel of all!
Now think about collecting what you need to create a beautiful early fall default mantel that can easily be turned into a late fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas mantel too!
Send pictures of your fall mantels using these tips to my email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share some on my Facebook page!
GET THE LOOK
Here are the sources for the items in this post. When I could not find an item I substituted something similar.
This post contains affiliate links. That means when you click on some of the links in this post and you make a purchase I earn a small commission at no cost to you. All my opinions are my own.