NOW THAT THE hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, I’m feeling a little bit off kilter.  If you’re like me, your schedule has slowed down, holiday vacation is over and you are already looking forward to spring.  You might also be feeling like your space just isn’t quite right after having packed away all of your Christmas decor.  Surfaces that were recently covered with glittery beaded garlands and the corner that housed a Christmas tree wrapped in sparkling lights are empty.

Having just moved into our new place at the beginning of November our house now looks like Whoville on Christmas morning, complete with the nails sticking out of the walls at random.  Not that this wasn’t the case before the Christmas decor went up, but I have to say that I was pleasantly distracted by the shininess of the season and was able to totally ignore the fact that this place is empty for about a month.

Recently my friend, Kari, expressed a similar concern.  Kari specifically asked me for some ideas on how to spruce up her now-empty mantel, thereby sending me into a Pinterest-induced mantel mania.  Perhaps my tendency to take a research project by storm is a side-effect of my semi-former life as a law firm associate.  “Please, go find an answer to this question and a needle in this haystack, and, while you’re at it, herd these cats through a waterfall.”  But, I digress.

Instead of driving yourselves into a similar mantel-madness, please enjoy the fruits of my (free) labor – an inspirational collection of some fabulous mantels.  I’ve divided my favorite mantels into categories to help your focus.  Decide which style you like best, then start collecting the accessories you need to complete the look!  Have fun!

MIX IT UP – If you are drawn to eclectic, asymmetrical designs, you might want to try mixing it up above your mantel.  Use mirrors, photographs, candlesticks, seashells, vases, fresh greenery, wooden boxes, wire baskets or anything else you love to create organized chaos above your fireplace.  Anchor your display with one large piece (e.g., a mirror) or collection of smaller pieces (e.g., a stack of boxes or a set of candlesticks).  Surround your anchor, which can be centered or off to one side, with smaller pieces directly on the mantel and on the wall above.

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Photo via: Houzz.com

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Photo via: Curate This Space

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Photo via:  Better Homes and Gardens

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Photo via: Design Sponge

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Photo via: Lonny Mag

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Photo via: CK and Nate

HIT THE BOOKS – Your bookcase need not be the only surface in your home with the duty of corralling your book collection.  Add a couple of books, stacked vertically or horizontally, to your mantel to achieve a collected look almost instantly.  Since most of us have books lying around, you’ll already have a great start to your design.  If you love color and pattern, layer books with interesting spine labels on your mantel.  If the monochromatic look is more your speed, turn the spines to face the wall to achieve uniformity in your stacks.

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Photo via:  My Blessed Life 

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Photo via:  Houzz.com

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Photo via:  HGTV.com

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Photo via: Better Homes and Gardens

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Photo via:  Nibs Blog

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Photo via: Lonny Mag

MIRROR, MIRROR - A mirror above the mantel is a foolproof method for creating interest and adding light to your space.  Choose a mirror with a simple frame and layer glass bottles or other collectibles in front of the mirror to create depth in your design.  Alternatively, go with a mirror that has an ornate or chunky frame that can stand alone!

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Photo via: Windlost

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Photo via: Belle Maison

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Photo via:  Better Homes and Gardens

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Photo via:  Kiki Monkey

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Photo via: Houzz.com

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Photo via: Lonny Mag

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Photo via:  Coastal Living

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Photo via: Craftiments

SHOWCASE YOUR ARTWORK – Whether it’s a single piece or a collection of smaller pieces, artwork is a great way to make your fireplace the true focal point of your space.  Lean and layer artwork on the mantel for a casual look or hang artwork in even rows if your prefer your space to look tailored.  Remember, art doesn’t necessarily need to be centered above the fireplace.  Hang a print off to one side and balance it out with a collection of vases or fresh greenery to achieve a contemporary feel.

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Photo via:  StoriBook Designs

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Photo via:  Lonny Mag

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Photo via:  Lonny Mag

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Photo via:  Better Homes and Gardens

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Photo via:  Houzz.com

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Photo via:  Style by Emily Henderson

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Photo via:  Maria Killam

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Photo via:  Curate This Space

CURATE YOUR COLLECTION – Most of us have something that we’ve collected over the years.  Use your mantel as a place to put your collection on display.  Strength lies in numbers.  Seemingly simple pieces can create quite the impact when a large collection is displayed together.

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Photo via:  A Merry Mishap

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Photo via:  Architectural Digest

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Photo via:  Lonny Mag

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Photo via:  Wayfair

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Photo via:  MRK Style  

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Photo via:  Houzz.com

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Photo via:  Better Homes and Gardens

Alright, everyone, it’s time to man(tel) up and get crackin’ on that space above your fireplace that is oh-so-full of potential.  Which style is your favorite?  Is your mantel already in top form?  Tell me about it!

xoxoSara

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