How to Decorate Your Fireplace Mantle & Bookshelves


A fireplace is a natural focal point in any room, especially when flanked by built-in bookshelves. Decorate your fireplace mantle and surrounding bookshelves to accentuate the entire room with items that you enjoy looking at. The decor should include functional items and decorative items, as long as they match the style, color scheme and tone of the room. For example, an ultra-modern room with a contemporary fireplace would incongruous if decorated with over-sized floral arrangements and doilies.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Accessories
  • Paint the wall behind the fireplace and shelves to draw more attention to the wall if the shelves aren't backed by stained wood. For example, paint the wall a deep red or cool blue if the color complements your decor.

  • Hang a mirror, painting, photograph, artwork, wall sculpture or sconces above the fireplace. Add complementary pieces above the bookshelves if they don't go all the way up.

  • Put a candle arrangement, group of vases or a plant on the mantle. The items on the mantle should be off-center to avoid detracting from the artwork, pictures, mirror or whatever is hanging above the fireplace.

  • Spread out your hardcover book collection evenly among the shelves if you have books and want to display them. Stand some up and lay some down as long as the books are distributed amongst the shelves in a balanced manner.

  • Arrange knickknacks, vases, plates, statues and candles in groupings of odd numbers. Odd numbered groupings tend to be more pleasing to the eye. All of the items you decorate with should have something in common, such as the material, color or a theme. For example, use lime green and white vases and glass sculptures on dark brown shelves to accentuate a modern lime green, chocolate brown and white room.

Tips & Warnings

  • Include houseplants or flower arrangements that fit the style of the room to add a fresh "live" element to the room.
  • Consider using track lights or spotlights to highlight your artwork or other notable pieces.
  • Avoid packing in so many items that the mantle or bookshelves appear to be cluttered. Having too many objects can detract from the the beauty of your items.

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  • Photo Credit wall niche image by Leticia Wilson from
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