Design Chick  

Creating the perfect mantel

I tend to default to a more organic and less stuffy approach when styling shelves and fireplace mantels.

I find that the looser, more casual approach gives my spaces a more relaxed and cozy feel. By not lining everything up perfectly, and worrying so much about equal-spacing your items, you too can style your mantels to perfection.


I begin by sorting out the items I'd like to display, picking out the taller, larger, items first and place them at the back of my mantel.

If you only have one tall item, that's just fine too. In most cases, less is more when it comes to larger decor pieces (too many big items can look overwhelming). Embrace some asymmetry here; placing these anchor items off-centre sets things up for a more interesting finished look.


Next comes your medium height pieces. If you have one large picture or photograph that you've placed slightly off centre, layer in a medium height piece or object just in front of, and slightly to the left or right of your main piece.

They can overlap slightly. Having them completely not touching doesn't always look right, so overlaying them a bit will help create more of a cohesive vignette.


Next comes your smaller items: these can be candles, vases, picture frames, stacked books, a clock or two, a shallow bowl. Really, anything that has meaning and holds interest with you will do.

I like to have a grouping made of large, medium, and then small items placed relatively close together on a mantle, and then off set everything with a single (or maybe a pair of) medium sized item on the opposite end.


Creating the perfect flow of items on your mantle isn’t rocket science; it just involves a little bit of balance. If you decide to rest your pieces predominately to the left side of your mantle, be sure to offset that group with something heading toward the right.

You don't want your mantel to be left or right side-heavy, so adding that extra piece for counter balance is important.


Some of the most successful mantels I've styled included a wide variety of objects and genres. There isn't a rule that states you must have everything matching for it to look tasteful.

Maybe you have a family heirloom, a photograph, some hand painted pieces you’ve picked up on one of your travels. You can get creative with the items you choose to put out.


If you go all out and mix your items, use this little trick I employ to help create cohesion with differing objects. Pieces that share similar shapes, lines, colour, form, texture, and medium will visually meld together easier than those that remain completely unrelated to one another.

Pull together a combination of round objects, or tall and skinny, or even one all done in sleek glass and mirror. The relationships between your items will visually strengthen by grouping pieces that share some of these elements.


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About the Author

Crispin Butterfield is the creative force and mastermind behind Urban Theory; a graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, her engaging personality and design-commerce savvy make her a valued and well-respected professional and mentor within her field.

She’s able to uniquely see the parameters and vision of each project in ways her clients often cannot, and has honed the process and proficiency required to grow incredible long-standing client relationships. 

Crispin embraces a life full of ingenuity and imagination, fueled by raw ambition and a desire to leave her mark on the world. Her impeccable design style, expertise, and a rock-solid business acumen is the foundation which allows Urban Theory Interior Design to provide full scale services with authenticity, innovation, and ample amounts of personality.

Featured in Style At Home Magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and The National Post – www.urbantheoryinteriordesign.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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