Skip to main content

The do’s & don’ts of decorating a gorgeous floating mantel (for every style)

No matter what kind of fireplace you have, the mantel is the most important part. The mantel is the focal point of the room which means you should decorate it with care. Decorating a floating mantel is not much different than decorating a traditional mantel, and there are specific guidelines you should follow to achieve the best results. Floating mantels have an added bit of character on their own, so decorating one is a matter of complementing your existing decor style. Whether you like vintage farmhouse, modern, or traditional, these floating mantel ideas won’t disappoint.

Mantel do’s and don’ts


  • Consider the shape, size, color, and structure of your mantel shelf before deciding how you’re going to decorate it.
  • Use things that are of different sizes and shapes. Place taller items in the back and smaller items in the front.
  • Use layers to create depth but don’t overdo it so that the space is cluttered.
  • Odd numbers usually work better than evens when creating a display. Place similar objects together in groups of three or five.
  • Don’t be afraid to lean framed art or mirrors against the wall.
  • Change it up. The mantel is the focal point year-round, so changing the display with the seasons keeps the room fresh.
  • Match your floating mantel to the overall style of the room. The items on the mantel should complement the rest of the room.


  • Don’t use a random mix of things on the floating mantel. The items you choose should be related to each other via style, theme, or color.
  • Don’t layer so much that you hide some items. There should be some overlapping, but not so much that the items in the back get lost.
  • You don’t have to match items to create a balanced display. A few lightweight things on one side will balance visually with a heavy object on the other.
  • Don’t use meaningless items. Since the mantel is the centerpiece of the room, the things on it should have some meaning to you.
  • Don’t use items that are all the same shape. Mixing it up with different forms will create balance.
  • Don’t use too many materials at once. For example, don’t mix glass, wood, and gold in one display. Be selective.


To achieve a modern floating mantel look, remember less is more. Modern looks are clean and minimalistic, so a few pieces of chic artwork and touches of gold will do the trick. If gold isn’t your thing, try a large mirror and a few plants. A small stack of books and a few candlesticks, or three modern vases and a wall map, will also look great. Remember to match the mantel to the decor in the room, and you will successfully pull off a modern vibe.

Related Videos
Floating mantle with farmhouse decorations.


A wooden sign, large candlesticks, an old wooden ladder, black-and-white family photos, a wooden crate, a few mason jars with sprigs of greenery in them — the possibilities are almost endless if you want a rustic floating mantel. To achieve a rustic look, think natural materials like wood and metal and soften those items with white and off-white colors. Old books also look great in a rustic display, and remember, the entire point of a fireplace is to burn wood, and nothing says rustic more than a few chopped logs.

Floating mantle with plants.


Traditional floating mantel decor can cover an array of decorating ideas. A ship in a bottle and a few old books can be traditional. The vases that your grandma passed down to you complemented with a few white candles can be traditional. A few potted plants surrounded by framed family photos can be traditional. An heirloom mirror surrounded by a few curiosities that you’ve acquired on your travels over the years will scream traditional to your guests. Ultimately, a traditional mantel should be filled with items that are meaningful to you and your family.


To pull off a vintage floating mantel vibe, you’re going to need some vintage stuff. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend tons of money on actual vintage items to get the look you want. Old windows from a second-hand supply store, antique candlesticks that you found at a garage sale, and your aunt’s old mirror will all do the trick just fine. Look for items that look naturally worn but not to the point of damage. Blue and white ceramics or an old clock can create a vintage look as well. Be creative and use items that make you feel at home.

Decorating a floating mantel is not much different than decorating a traditional mantel. There are a few general rules to follow, and you’ll be well on your way. Matching your mantel to the rest of the room’s decor is key, as is remembering that the mantel is the focal point of the room. Once you choose a style, with a little planning and maybe some shopping, you’ll have a brand new mantel display in no time.

Editors' Recommendations

10 stunning rustic Christmas decor ideas that actually feel fresh and modern
Copper, plaid, natural elements, and more: Check out these rustic Christmas decor ideas
Farmhouse-styled Christmas tree with pillows and chairs as decor

When it comes to decking the halls of your home this Christmas, the best way to achieve a rustic look while still remaining modern can be puzzling. For rustic Christmas decor ideas that are still fresh, there are a few approaches. From worn wood frames to natural elements, you can adorn your space with wintery pieces that are sure to wow your family and friends while still giving off that warm holiday vibe.

Of course, just because you're using plaid, natural elements, and wall signs, doesn't mean your decorating scheme has to feel like everyone else's. It's all about how you incorporate these elements into your existing decor. If you've been looking for some inspiration with your Christmas decorations this year, keep reading. We’ve collected 10 unique ideas that will appeal to your cozy country style in a fresh and modern way.

Read more
4 clever Christmas tree decorating ideas that will wow your friends and family
Your guests will be impressed with your unique Christmas tree
Christmas tree in living room surrounded by presents

If you want to shake things up with your Christmas tree decorations this year, then we’ve got just the list for you! Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the things we look forward to the most during the holidays. It’s a chance to show off your personality and blend tradition with items passed down through generations. So, if you’re struggling to come up with the perfect way to wow your friends and family this year, check out our top four Christmas tree decorating ideas.

Add your holiday cards to your Christmas tree
Each year, families receive holiday cards by the dozens. This tradition has transcended the digital age and proven to be a nostalgic and heartwarming experience for many. If you have a few holiday cards sitting around on your table or mantel, why not put them to use as part of your tree decoration?
Place them on your tree
One simple way you can use holiday cards on your Christmas tree is by nestling them between the branches. Scatter them around the tree alongside ornaments and garland to create a beautiful and cohesive look. This option is excellent for those who are running short on time but still want to add something special to their tree. And just think, when your family and friends come around for a holiday get-together, they’ll be overjoyed that you put their cards on display.
Turn them into ornaments
If you'd prefer something smaller — or are looking for a way to repurpose the beautiful cards you got last year, you can always turn them into ornaments. Pick up some flat wood discs from your local craft store, some glitter, glue, and twine. Cut the card a bit smaller than the disc, glue it, and trim the edge with glitter. Once you glue a loop of twine to the back, it'll be ready for your tree.
Create garland
Alternatively, you could create a fun garland out of your holiday cards. If you want to get crafty (and have plenty of cards and a little time on your hands), gather up the necessary supplies to create a holiday card garland.

Read more
5 ingenious hacks for beautiful and sustainable Christmas decorations
Be a part of the solution this Christmas with these renewable ideas
Woman shopping for live Christmas trees

The holiday season is upon us once again, and that means it’s time to start decorating. Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, and more have been popping up everywhere already, but what if you want to be a bit more eco-friendly with your Christmas decor this year?

Sustainable Christmas decorations are not as challenging to pull off as you may think, especially considering a tree is one of the central symbols of Christmas. But you don’t have to stop at a sustainably farmed live Christmas tree -- you can turn family heirlooms or vintage pieces into Christmas decorations, and you can choose wreaths and other decorations that are eco-friendly. With a bit of know-how and these five hacks, you'll have a Christmas the entire family can feel better about in no time.

Read more