The Easy Way To Decorate Your Mantle For The Holidays—Even If You Don’t Have A Fireplace

A foolproof way to master holiday decorating, plus tips on how to fake the look of a fireplace on a budget.

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Of all the holiday stressors—dealing with the in-laws, buying gifts for fussy friends or finding the perfect New Year’s outfit—decking the mantle should be the least of it. To get started on your holiday decorating, follow these simple, stylist-approved steps to creating a cozy, festive scene.

holiday hearth decorations-beige hearth with paper garland and light decorations
Photo, iStock.

Designers swear by what’s called a “decorating triangle”. Start by placing either the largest or most cherished object on the mantle. Think of it as the star on the top of the tree—it’s the focal point. Then, arrange other objects in descending height away from the central object, creating the sides of the triangle. This might sound a lot like geometry, but there’s plenty of room to have fun with your display. Stacks of your favourite holiday books, festive family photos, jars of candy—anything goes. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can apply this principle to floating shelves, sideboards or anywhere else you want an eye-catching festive decor display.

Coveting the warm, inviting look of a decorated mantle in a small space? Here’s how to fake a fireplace, no matter your budget.

Tape it up

Buy a roll of washi tape and outline your dream fireplace. Because washi tape doesn’t stick strongly to surfaces, it will peel off without leaving a mark come January. Bonus: a roll of washi tape in your pattern of choice will only set you back about $2.

(Photo: Courtesy of VinylWallAdornments, via Etsy)

Stick it on

A stick-on foreplace decal—like this one from Etsy—is another great way to give your living room some flair over the holiday season. This option will set you back around $60, but it’s perfect for people who might not be artsy enough to attempt their own washi outline.

a white mantel and wall decorated with a pink wreath, maroon and burnt-orange candles and vases, greenery and wooden ball garland
(Photo: Erik Putz)

Salvage it

Give a pre-loved object a second life by rescuing a gorgeous mantle from an architectural salvage shop and restoring it to its former glory. Mantles typically start at $200, and can cost upwards of $1,000. The mantle above is an original Art Deco piece salvaged by one of our staffers. This is the most realistic-looking option, but it also requires the most commitment, both in terms of cash and space. Fill the hearth with flickering candles, plants or stacks of vintage books to give charm to an old structure.