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Expert Holiday Fireplace Decorating Tips

After installing tin tile on her three-sided fireplace, we asked designer, Jennifer Lindsley, to decorate hers and give us a few tips. Here’s what we learned.


Collage of living room and dining room three-sided fireplace with black matte tin tile.
Pattern #3 in Black Matte

Start with a Beautiful Background

Having a black matte tin tile in the background was the perfect place to start. It meant that the mantel décor could be simple but the overall effect would be elegant and sophisticated. A black background also made it easy to choose colors that would stand out.

Jennifer chose white, silver, and gold—opposites of the black background—so they would pop on her three-dimensional fireplace layout.

Background Tips

Many fireplaces have neutral backgrounds, which give you a lot of leeway to work with your fireplace décor. Then again, the fireplace can often be the centerpiece of a room and have some unique features that will need to be blended with your décor.

The key to working with unique backgrounds is to balance them. If you have lots of color or pattern on the background, stick to neutral décor. If you have a highly textured background, simple and smooth décor will balance it.

If you want to amp up your fireplace, the surround or the wall around your fireplace is a good place to start. You’ll get year-round décor that makes your fireplace the visual center of the space. Consider tin tile. It comes in various colors with elegant patterns and understated texture. Learn more about tin tile on the fireplace!

Tin Tile for the Fireplace

Grouped arrangements of stockings and glass trees on a holiday decorated mantel.

Create Vignettes

Group objects together to tell miniature stories. Get out Grandma’s holiday carolers figurines and tuck them into a corner together. Strategically arrange all your favorite holiday candlesticks in one area or break them up into two symmetrical placements.

Whether you go with a symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangement is up to you. Each is equally beautiful when your guiding design is about creating little moments across your fireplace mantel.

Vignette Tips

“The key to getting vignettes right is to leverage different heights,” Jennifer told us. If everything is at the same vertical height, nothing will stand out and your vignettes will get lost. Using different heights will create distinction that will draw the eye and have your guests asking about your décor.


Brass items nestled among a pine garland on a fireplace mantel.

Work the Depth

With a three-sided fireplace, Jennifer had a unique depth challenge. The fireplace juts out into the middle of an open format space, separating it into three different spaces. “Essentially there were three mantels to decorate and each featured prominently in a different room, yet the whole mantel had to work together as one,” Jennifer said.

She used very different items for each side of the mantel but there were threads of commonality between each side that cemented the design together. Use the same principle to bring the various elements of your fireplace mantel design together.

Depth Tips

Similar to adding different heights, different depths are important to fireplace decoration so it doesn’t blend into the flat wall. You are somewhat limited when it comes to depth on your fireplace mantel, as most aren’t more than four to six inches.

If you have room for it, place objects at varying distances from the wall to create more depth. The more depth you create, the more your décor will stand out. If your mantel is shallow, don’t be afraid to place items in a line but try to vary other elements like size and shape to substitute for depth.

A mix of textures on a fireplace mantel decorated for the holidays.

Mix Textures

Another design principle that brings a design together and adds loads of interest is texture. Jennifer used a pine garland with smooth “winterberries” as the foundation then added other smooth metallic and glass accents to further offset the highly textured garland.

The knit stockings bring a bit of soft luxury that adds a third textural element that rounds out the design.

Texture Tips

Textures, both tactile and visual, go a long way to creating mood. Metal (matte or shiny) with aged or rustic items balance the texture and introduce an elegant-cozy vibe. Glass alongside warm woods also balance the texture and bring a sense of festivity to the occasion.

Be Practical

As much as any designer hates to admit it, there are some practical limitations when it comes to decorating the fireplace. But undaunted, Jennifer found plenty of ways to work around that. She used heavy metal objects to help hold the garland and lights in place.

The garland itself can be useful in holding items in place. Simply wrap the wired branches around your decorations or nestle smaller items in amongst the needles.

Practical Tips

To have your beautiful fireplace décor interrupted by an extension cord running down the wall is a let down but all too common an occurrence. Use battery operated twinkle lights or candles to add light without the unsightly rogue power cord.

Want more design and décor ideas? Check out this collection of ideas.

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