Fancy Fireplace Mantles

But not all fireplaces are created equal! Designers can take a quick glance at a room and instantly fix those little things that make it look incomplete.

Designer Lauren Oviatt gives tips on how you can make the most of your fireplace – including a custom mantle design she’s created right here on set.

To create a focal point for your fireplace you can implement some simple design techniques. Here are a few examples:


The single most important thing to consider when addressing the space above your fireplace is the scale and proportion. Do you have a small fireplace with a minimal ledge for display or does your fireplace command the most attention for the entire room? Taking a step back to look at the scale of your fireplace will help you determine the art and accessories you’ll need to make the unit look well-dressed and complete. Consider using multiple pieces of art instead of one gigantic piece if you have a large space to fill. Before shopping, use your existing art and accessories on the mantle to see what works in terms of size and scale. You’ll find certain things will disappear when placed on the mantle while the size of other pieces will suit your vision.

Tip: Do your homework first! Many people find art or accessories they love while out shopping, and then expect them to work simply because they like the piece. Most common errors in design revolve around the improper use of beautiful things. Have you ever said to yourself, “I love that painting, but I hate the way it looks right there!” Take a picture of your fireplace to keep with you on your shopping trips, and better yet, keep useful dimensions written down in your planner for reference when considering that piece of art for your mantle.


Traditional spaces lend themselves to a symmetrical balance, where eclectic spaces are more fit for the assymetrical. If you have a pair of candlesticks you want to use, try them on either side of your mantle… if it doesn’t create the impact you need, put them together on one side and find another object of equal visual width or height to balance the empty side of the mantle.

Reflective qualities

Fireplace mantles are a fantastic place to use mirrors or other reflective surfaces. Your first thought might be to use one large mirror to fill the entire space – what a great look! But if you’re looking for another option, use geometric groupings of smaller mirrors to create more energy and movement. (Use multiples of the same mirror, not mix n’match mirrors please!)


Simply resting artwork and accessories on your mantle is a great option for those who have a rock or brick fireplace or any other type of tricky surround. Also, it makes seasonal changes so much easier to manage. Some find that they just can’t commit to that solitary picture year round – I encourage you to use different accessories as your mood or the seasons change. It’s a great way to refresh the space and make things feel new to you!

Lauren Stimpson Oviatt

Oviatt-Pratt & Associates

Interiors & Design


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