Mantel scarves; large pictures and mirrors; and vases filled with flowers, feathers, or other small items are often considered mantel decor. It is also not uncommon to use random objects, like fruit or plates, to decorate the mantel. Many people combine all of these different types of decor to create elaborate displays above their fireplaces. These items can be arranged based on existing decorating rules or on the whims of the homeowner.
A mantel scarf resembles a slender, decorative table cloth. It is made specifically to be placed on a mantel, and can be extraordinarily simple or extremely complex in design. The length and width of scarves vary, so one can choose to purchase a mantel scarf that only slightly hangs off the sides or drapes much closer to the floor. This type of mantel decor is especially popular around holidays because it is typically easy to set up and remove.
For many people, a large picture or mirror hung over the fireplace serves as traditional mantel decor. The picture can be of family or a landscape or any other subject, but is usually large enough to draw attention when looking at the fireplace. Normally, it is centered somewhat above the mantel; however, many homeowners opt to simply prop the picture or mirror on the mantel and against the wall behind it. Some people consider the frame of the picture or mirror to be just as important as the subject, while others prefer no frame at all.
Not all mantel decor must be specifically created for the mantel or even widely considered mantel decor, however. Bowls of real fruit, vases filled with feathers instead of flowers, or anything the decorator finds appealing can be used. These items are then arranged in an eye-appealing way on the mantel.
Some people follow the “three plus one” rule when dealing with mantel decor, which can work well when dealing with random, loosely related items. Essentially, the decorator chooses three pieces that are similar in at least one way and places them on one side of the mantel. Then, he or she chooses a large object that has something in common with the other three and places it on the other side. Ideally, all of these mantel decor pieces are of varying heights but nothing is significantly shorter or taller than the rest.