Expert tips on how to dress a mantelpiece this festive season

the perfect christmas mantelpiece
How to decorate your mantelpiece this ChristmasM&S

The mantelpiece has always been the traditional centrepiece of the living room, but it really comes into its own during the holiday season. Mantelscaping has become a huge trend in the design world and on social media, with everyone from interior designers to influencers creating bigger and bolder displays than ever before.

This year’s all about supersizing – using abundant foliage, oversized baubles and statement decs to create maximalist schemes with layers, colour and texture. Stockings have made a big comeback too, with velvets, furs and linens all popular, adding a nostalgic, homely vibe. Similarly, candlesticks with a modern twist are hot right now, with an array of candles colour-matched to your scheme.

the perfect christmas mantelpiece
Prodoto Ltd

Whichever look you choose, it’s important to think about the space holistically rather than just the mantel. Consider above, below, to the side and hanging pieces in front. A key trend is wrapping foliage around an overmantel mirror, or keeping it simple with a vase of oversized branches to add drama. Don’t have a fireplace? The look can also be achieved by dressing a sideboard, shelf or windowsill. Use decorations in odd numbers and group items together in clusters of varied heights and textures, such as on-trend paper pinwheels, Christmas tree ornaments and garlands laced with baubles.

Read on for the top three Christmas mantelpiece trends for 2023, according to interior design experts, and how to recreate the same look at home...

Festive Foliage

Nicki Bamford-Bowes, Interior Designer and Stylist at & Then They Went Wild (@andthentheywentwild)

“The trend for ‘mantel game’ is strong this Christmas with oversized florals and magnificent displays. There’s a tendency to throw everything at them, but I think you can still create a showstopper by keeping it simple – using one stem or type of foliage is often more impactful, and most importantly achievable.

the perfect christmas mantelpiece
And Then They Went Wild

One of the best ways to get creative is using alternative greenery and branches, such as dried hops, pink peppercorns and rosehips. See what catches your eye; I like to take a trip to my favourite local florist to see what looks magical in abundance. If you want a more traditional effect, pile up big bundles of foraged greenery and don’t be afraid to mix real foliage with faux to give you that festive scent but with the longevity of faux. Sprinkle lavishly with warm pin-wire lights and stars for a magical effect.

Dried hops are really easy to style as they come on one big vine, so you can simply drape them over your mantel and maybe use a couple of removable Command hooks to hold it in place. But be warned, hops are initially very messy and sticky. Cover furniture and roll away rugs when installing it, as the pollen goes everywhere. I wore a mask and kept the pets out until it had settled. Once in place, use hairspray over the whole installation to keep the pollen for dispersing further. To complete the look I added a branch of larch for additional height and an oversized draping bow in rust velvet to tie in with the tree.

the perfect christmas mantelpiece
And Then They Went Wild

The bow trend is definitely back; I hand-make oversized bows for my tree topper and I like to adorn my mantels and mirrors with them to complete the look. Oversized baubles are definitely making an appearance too this year. When choosing any accent colours, consider the palette in the room and choose a shade that works for the whole space. For example, I used beautiful luxe velvet in warm and spicy tones of pinks and rusts as a tonal complement to my pink lounge.

One last tip: chicken wire is the hidden, unglamorous secret behind my biggest and most dramatic festive foliage displays. I use a small-gauge wire mesh, which is inexpensive, light and easy to mould so you can create structures to fill with foliage. And because it’s quite sturdy, you can also hang lights and baubles from it. It does need to be secured to walls or mantles with screws or wire, or can even be hung from the ceiling.”

Modern Monochrome

Lucy St George, Co-founder of Rockett St George (@rockettstgeorge)

"I'm a natural maximalist in the way that I decorate my home and Christmas is no exception. One of our top trends for 2022 pairs a classic colour palette of black and white with pops of bold red, creating the perfect balance between modern and traditional Christmas decorating. To recreate the look in your home, opt for monochrome chequered baubles, paper pinwheels and red velvet decorative ornaments. Checkerboard patterns are having a big moment in the interiors world, and this fabulous trend is designed to embrace this as part of a magical mantelpiece scene.

the perfect christmas mantelpiece
Rockett St George

One of my top tips for styling a mantelpiece like this is to embrace oversized paper decorations, such as pinwheels, stars and honeycombs, as they’re really affordable and promise instant impact. Paper pinwheels and fans look amazing styled on the wall next to the mantelpiece in a cascading design, while stars and honeycombs can be artfully placed at the bottom of the mantelpiece to tie the look together. The benefit of paper decorations is that they can also be reused throughout the rest of the year for other celebrations, from New Year's Eve parties to al fresco summer birthdays with pinwheels hung from a tree.

When styling and curating your mantelpiece, it's important to choose pieces that you can keep on display all year round and jazz up during different seasons. For example, once you've put together a display that you adore, all you need to do is add fairy lights and candles, and you have a mantelscape ready for Christmas.

the perfect christmas mantelpiece
Rockett St George

For an extra special festive touch, don’t forget to hang stockings from the mantelpiece on Christmas Eve. Using a variety of heights, textures and colours will result in something bold and beautiful that will stand out in your living space. However, the most important tip for styling the mantelpiece is to have fun with your display and use unique pieces that bring personality and fearlessness to your interior.”

Maximalist Mantels

Lisa Jones, Design Manager at Dunelm (@dunelmuk)

“A traditional garland intertwined with lights is a classic look, but this year it’s all about making a strong statement – more is more. Our take on the current maximalist trend is Festive Traveller, inspired by the Three Kings and their journey from the Orient to visit Bethlehem. Jewel colours and rich fabrics are central to this look – intricate beading, tactile velvet and mercury-shot baubles are integral to a vibrant display. Colours are dark and dramatic; we’d recommend mixing coppers and golds with sophisticated olive, navy and teal.

the perfect christmas mantelpiece

Contrast brings the whole thing to life – mixing the whimsy of beaded elephant, camel and star baubles with more dramatic oversized glass baubles and the sculptural silhouettes provided by our folding paper decorations will create instant impact. Play with scale, materials and texture; to really max it up, add height to your mantlescape by taking garlands and lights up and around mirrors or pictures that sit above, or add depth by suspending baubles from coordinating long ribbons from the edge of the mantlepiece – three oversized baubles will be more striking than a cluster of smaller ones.”

Get creative this Christmas.

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