Fireplace Decor: Hearth Design Tips

Top designers mix up the mantel, creating graphic, asymmetrical or three-dimensional arrangements easy to replicate in your own home. Here are five ways to make your mantel marvelous, and heat up the decor of any room.

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Space for the Seasons

Instead of hanging art on the wall, designer Raji Radhakrishnan of Raji RM & Associates in Brambleton, Va., likes to lean pictures of various sizes on the mantel. "Odd numbers of things always look better than even numbers," she says, "So I would recommend three pieces of art — go to four and five only if they are really spectacular." For the best effect, Radhakrishnan likes to place the largest painting or drawing on the mantel first, slightly off-center, with the second and third pieces (approximately half to two-thirds the height of the first) slightly overlapping in front of it. "In addition to giving the impression that the pieces were accumulated over time," she says, "leaning objects allows you to tuck in mementos or seasonal objects very easily." A mirror gives height to a trio of framed art in Radhakrishnan's room. Photo by Raji Radhakrishnan.

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