How to Decorate a Summer Mantel with Beautiful Style
Trying to decorate a summer mantel? Use these simple tips of color, texture, and accessories for that breezy summer feel that anyone can do. Keep reading for some of my favorite summer decor elements and how they can best work as you decorate a summer mantel.
You probably think I’m joking, but I’m actually totally serious! Until a few years ago, I had never tried to decorate a summer mantel before. Actually, we didn’t even have one until a few years ago. However, I have had so much fun with it and hopefully my experimenting will inspire you as well!
Summer décor, in general, is so fun because of its casual, laid-back nature. I love the light and bright colors, soft textures, and natural elements! Most of all, I love that summer is really a time that you can do as much or as little with your décor as you want! Switching around décor is really my “play time” and I love looking for new ways to get creative with it. With living in a small, coastal town, I think I especially love bringing in a bit of that coastal vibe to our “summer house”!
Because, let’s be honest…I really don’t follow the Florida rules for decorating…at all! I pretty much stick with the northern decorating cycles, even when that means decorating with pumpkins in 90 degree weather. Haha! Summer is my one chance to be a real Floridian!
And if you don’t live in Florida? Well, summer is your chance to pretend you live on an island resort and totally get away with it in the décor world!
I love mixing these coastal elements with my vintage and farmhouse décor pieces. Further proof that chippy white goes with everything!
Speaking of chippy white, let’s move on to the mantel décor! But first, let me introduce you to Thrifting with the Gals!
Thrifting With the Gals
In case you are new here, let me introduce you to one of the most fun blogs of the month: Thrifting with the Gals! I love joining up with some of my thrift-loving, vintage-obsessed friends to share our finds from the month, styling and decor ideas, and DIY tips.
You’ll want to make sure to visit each of these blogging friends for loads of home inspiration…especially if you love a great thrifted find!
How do you decorate a plain mantel?
We are going to look at all of these seven aspects to decorate a summer mantel:
- Start with a focal point or statement piece.
- Use natural elements.
- Add texture and color.
- Incorporate accents such as vintage books and architectural salvage.
- Feature a collection.
- Incorporate mantel decor into a gallery wall.
- Include the hearth in your decor plan.
How to Decorate a Summer Mantel with Beautiful Style
How do I decorate a summer mantel?
The first thing I do when decorating any space is to completely clear it off and deep clean. I find that when I clear a space, I can get more creative. A clean slate is good for my brain! While most of my décor pieces are things that I use year-round, I still like to get a clean slate, clean it really well, and start fresh. I also use this as a time to rotate some of my décor around the house. Shopping my own home is always my go-to! Also, it is a great way to create budget-friendly decor too!
When I started decorating my mantel for this season, I started with these elements:
1. Natural Elements
What is found around you in nature? Or…what do you WISH was around you in nature? Depending on where you live, this will vary your décor. If you live in a tropical climate like me, free palm branches are abundant and there are seashell shops in every town. Or even free seashells from our beach adventures! If you live in the mountains, this might be more lake-related items or an abundance of wildflowers!
The fun thing with décor is that you can make it what you want, so even if you live in the Midwest, feel free to break out a few natural elements found in a coastal region! This is your one chance in the year to get away with starfish in Oklahoma! You also don’t have to create a full-on coastal theme! Just bringing in a bowl of shells on the coffee table or a fresh palm tree from your local nursery in the corner can add the perfect touch of “summer” to your space!
Other natural elements that I love to use are sea fans, sponges, and coral. Through the spring, I did a lot of coral hunting around antique shops, knowing I wanted to use these with my cloches and ironstone for summer!
Here are some great pieces you can find online to incorporate these natural elements:
I love that summer colors can range from bright and vibrant to very cool and soft to a monochromatic, neutral palette. This is another area when you can really make a statement and express your own creativity! There are no “summer specific” colors, as we think of color for the other seasons. It’s truly a free-for-all!
Some summers, I bring in more earthy tones with some light rust and tans. (Think of the inside of a conch shell!). Even just a few touches of this color make a great statement and set the tone for my summer décor.
This summer, I’ve been loving the light blue and gray tones, inspired from the combination of the sand and sea. So I kept some of those same elements around with throw pillows, vintage books, architectural salvage, and a little bit of vintage art. Even changing just a few pieces created an entirely different look for my summer décor!
You can find more details about some of my summer styling elements on THIS post.
Here are a few easy ways you can add breezy summer color to your living rooml:
Besides the more obvious, seasonal elements, texture is one of my favorite ways to change my décor for the seasons. During summer, I like to think about elements that would be found in a coastal retreat or beach environment. Some of my favorite summer textures are:
What looks good on a summer mantel?
This can vary a lot depending on the size of your fireplace or mantel. It also depends on whether you have a functioning fireplace that you will use in the summer months or if it is purely decorative.
While some Florida homes do have working fireplaces, this was not a priority for us. We had one at our previous home and I don’t think we used it once! We literally run our air conditioning year-round and only added central heat within the last year and a half. Haha!
We maybe have a couple of days and/or nights each winter where heat would be nice, but cozy layers are plenty for us! I know our situation is a far extreme, but necessary to explain why our mantelpiece is purely decorative!
Even if you have a working fireplace, vintage mantels can be great decorative elements to include in other rooms of your home, such as a bedroom or dining room!
We picked up our chippy, vintage mantel on the World’s Longest Yard Sale a couple of years ago. I love the substantial size and simple design of it, and of course, I love the great patina it has.
I brought it in behind our sofa, really as an architectural salvage element and love it here! Of course, it was great to decorate for fall and winter, but I had fun transitioning it for our warmer months of spring and summer too!
How can I make my mantle look nice?
Because my mantel is really part of a larger gallery wall, I take into account how I want to style the gallery wall as part of my mantel styling. I centered everything on my gallery wall and mantel styling around this vintage, French lavabo. You can find a wonderful reproduction HERE!
Again, the lavabo is something I’d never styled for summer before, but I was picturing the sea fans, sponges, and palms and wanted to give it a try. I set a glass of water down in the lavabo and was able to arrange fresh palms, along with some realistic faux ferns and coastal elements.
With having larger art pieces and a vintage sign on the wall above the mantel, I kept the mantelpiece décor more simple and a lower profile.
What looks best on a fireplace mantel?
#1: Vintage Books
Vintage books are always one of my go-to items to decorate a summer mantel. Actually, no matter the season, I love decorating with them. In fact, over on THIS POST, I share over 27 ways to decorate with vintage thrifted books!
I used vintage books in neutral and light blue tones (HERE and HERE) to bring in some additional texture and color. The books also provide some height variation for small plants. On one stack of books, I placed a vintage mortar and pestle from my collection with a piece of coral. I love how the white of the coral makes such a subtle coastal statement, while adding lots of organic texture.
#2: Architectural Salvage
The other statement piece on my summer mantel is an architectural salvage piece that I found at a vintage market. It has the perfect shade of light blue-gray with lots of chippy patina. I love how the curved style reminds me of something that could’ve been on an old boat at some point! (I don’t know that it ever was, more likely from a round window or arch, but I like the idea!)
To recap, I kept my summer mantel styling simple and light, while still getting a full look with the use of texture.
What else could I use to decorate my summer mantel?
Here are other things that I like to keep on hand for mantel decorating:
- Architectural salvage, corbels, unique salvage pieces
- Vintage art
- Vintage books
- Bottles or jars for greenery and flowers
- Candle holders (love the texture on these!)
- Vintage wall fountain/lavabo filled with greenery, plants, or coastal elements
- Vintage style brass candlesticks
Styling a collection on a mantel
No matter the season, a mantel is a great spot to style your favorite collection! Most any item, grouped with other like items, can make a beautiful statement. Vintage clocks, milk glass vases with fresh fern stems, mortar and pestles with coral, grouping of favorite candlesticks, a row of vintage bottles with patriotic flags…these are all great ways to style your mantel while showcasing your favorite collection pieces!
I think “collections” can sometimes get shoved in a corner or stuck on a shelf. I like to keep my collections moving around the house, sometimes styled together, sometimes split up over a few rooms, which ties the décor together and gives a nice flow to the rooms. Get creative with how you style those collection pieces and really enjoy them!
Pull out those favorite pieces and use them! You might be surprised at how much money you save on décor simply by shopping your home and re-thinking how you can use the pieces you already own. I love how collections tell a story, not only about your home, but also about yourself! You can count on a styled collection to be a conversation starter!
How do I decorate a hearth for summer?
With having our decorative mantel behind our sofa, I obviously am not decorating a hearth. However, the décor I use on my sofa has the same effect as if you are decorating a hearth. I like to use lots of comfy and cozy pillows on our sofa. They are a great way to bring in lots of texture, pattern, and color. Some of my favorites are made from vintage fabrics and grain sacks, but there are so many gorgeous options out there for summer pillows. You can add texture with these and these and some summer color with these. I also like to add a cozy throw and this gauzy one is my favorite for summer!
If you have a hearth, a vintage inspired basket with summer throw blankets and soft pillows is a great way to soften the hard lines of the fireplace. It also helps tell the story of a soft place to get cozy after a long day of summer fun! While you may add a basket of logs for the winter, consider replacing the logs with a lush, green plant for the summer months!
Greenery is another great way to soften the straight and hard edges of a fireplace. A grouping of lanterns is another great fireplace addition and can be used year-round. I like to keep some battery-operated candles for the summer months to keep that cozy glow in the evenings.
How can I decorate my house for summer?
Starting with a focal point, like a mantel, is a perfect way to get inspiration for the rest of your space. In fact, now that I have a mantel, it is almost always the first thing I decorate! Then, it seems like the inspiration starts flowing out of this focal point!
I hope this post gives you some ideas to decorate a summer mantel as your own focal point. Plus, it can spark some creativity for you as you have fun decorating your home and especially your summer mantel! Just by changing your mantel and fireplace décor…even if you leave everything else exactly the same…you can give an entirely new and fresh feel to your entire room!
Now, it’s time to check out the other Thrifting with the Gals posts! You’re going to love all of their inspiration!