How To Style Your Fall Mantel

by Maxwell Tielman


This week, the temperature finally dropped below 50 degrees and there were even whispers of snow (!!) up here in the Hudson Valley. As such, I’ve been quickly pulling out my sweaters from storage, donning the thickest socks possible, and spending my time huddled in front of my home’s fireplace. The fact that the fireplace does not, in fact, work is only slightly besides the point—the hearth (functional or not) is still where I head to when the chill of fall starts to pick up. It’s because of this annual migration from the front porch to the front of the fireplace that I also find myself pondering the best ways to decorate it around this time of year. Halloween is upon us and after that, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years—all perfect excuses to whip out the ole nicknacks and spend some time making the mantel look snazzy. If you’re in a similar mood but at a loss for where to start, fear not! Our pals over at Target have teamed up with us to bring you a few fall mantel-stylin’ tips using some seasonal pieces from their Home collection. (Also—Special thanks to my friend John McKinney for lending his fabulous mantel for this shoot—my own is not quite photo-ready!) —Max

This post is sponsored by Target. Shop Home Décor for modern luxury made easy.


Tip #1: I find that a mirror or a rectangular piece of art that is slightly less than the width of your mantel does a great job of anchoring the space, especially if it’s hung an inch or two up on the wall. This provides a focal point for your arrangement and gives you something to style things around.

Tip #2: I find that playing with heights is a great way to add visual appeal to your arrangement. Overall, I arrange taller items, such as vases and hurricanes, towards the sides of the mantel and taper off towards the center. This can also help to visually “frame” the art or mirror that hangs above the mantel.


Image above: We incorporated a Smith & Hawken Dome Cloche and a Threshold Copper Cocktail Shaker (used as a vase).


Image above: Threshold Gold Hammered Tray holds special objects.


Image above: Antique finials are nested in a Threshold Gold Hammered Tray.

Tip #3: Shallow trays and dishes, such as the hammered brass tray above, can be used to congregate collections of nicknacks, ephemera, or candles.


Image above: A Target Home Gold Lantern provides a moody, soft glow. Graduated ceramic pumpkins create a sense of the season.


Image above: A thick weave basket holds a cold weather necessity.

Tip #4: The top of the mantel doesn’t need to have all the fun! Try arranging objects at various levels on the floor, as well!

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  • Love this. I have a mantel that spans the entire wall and two built in bookcases flanking our fireplace. How would you decorate 12+ feet of mantel? I do have a mirror in the center and there is small window above each bookcase (Craftsman style home).

  • I have the same mantel as Chelsea describes above. Craftsman home with MASSIVE mantel. I bought a big mirror, but I can’t fill the entire space with it. Bookcases and windows on each side. How to fill it/decorate it but not have it feel cluttered?

  • I believe with a mantel as massive as you describe and with the bookcases on either side, a bit of negative space is actually a positive — so that the wall can breathe and not feel like a run on sentence of items. You could still use the ideas above just fine as long as the size of the items are appropriate for the size of the mantel.

  • Please, please share the color of paint used on the mantel wood….thanks so much and beautiful, warm decorations!! :)

  • Love this feature!! I’m always at a loss for how to style vignettes throughout the home. Would love to see something similar for coffee tables..? I never know which items would go well together!!

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