Living Room Fireplace Mantel Decor (Layering Frames)

The fireplace mantel at our rental house is whack. Well, that might be a little harsh. But it’s kind of hard to work with… mantel, it’s not me… it’s you. Seriously.

If you remember from the rental house living room tour, the brick fireplace is halfway painted so it’s a ghetto shoddy nice mix of tan and antiquey white paint. Furthermore (ten points to me for using that word in a sentence!), the mantel itself is really bulky and really high on the fireplace. It makes for all kinds of awkward decorating, which is why it’s probably taken me three months to decorate this thing.

But, ta-da, a decorated living room fireplace mantel.


I decided to use a layering effect to give some dimension to the mantel. Because of how oddly high it is, a lot of three-dimensional pieces (vases, bowls, etc.) looked weird up there. So I stuck with frames, but got some depth by layering them.


I mixed together white frames to brighten the space with dark wooden frames to ground the vignette. Most of the frames have family pictures in them (ie. lots of HDawg!) as well as some art mixed in. I think it works!

On the left side of the mantel is an Etsy art piece we used to have hanging in our master bedroom at the old house. I got the sunshine art from the Country Living Fair last year.


I printed out this iPhone photo of H and put it on some grass cloth wallpaper for unconventional matting. I love the texture it lends to the space.


On the right side of the mantel, I have cute baby pics and a framed vintage dictionary page stamped with the letter “R.” The page is actually from the R section of the dictionary, which is super cool. I picked it up at the Country Living Fair last year, as well. I’m pretty sure it cost a quarter or something. Love it!


Here’s the view from afar.


Wonky paint color and awkwardly placed mantel aside, I love how it’s looking today! What do you think? have you ever had to work with an awkward mantel like this before? Share your tricks!


  1. I can't believe that one photos is an iPhone photo! What great quality! And the mantel looks great with the layers. Love it!

  2. I think this works really well! I can imagine how hard it was to figure out, but the layering of the frames looks great!

  3. I love it! We also have a highly-set mantle on our fireplace and it can be very difficult to decorate!

  4. I just recently started following you and I really enjoy reading your blog. I love that you take the challenge of decorating your rental and you make it your own. Thank you for the before and after photos details on what you love about the changes you are making. :) --M

  5. It looks great, just like a photo ledge! I've actually been admiring photo ledges a lot lately, so it may be time I invested in one!

  6. I really like this. Our mantel is strangely high too, and I feel like candle holders and things make it look taller and the ceiling then looks short. Maybe I should try this. THANKS!

  7. Great solution, Michelle -- I love layering frames and you've got the cutest pics!
    xo Heidi

  8. Incredible blog. Love it. Keep sharing more blog in future on this topic. Wall lighting

  9. Having a fireplace in the living room is a great addition to your interior design. From placing flowers in a vase to placing picture frames, you can have different arrangements on the objects on the fireplace.


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear what you think. I ♥ comments.

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