Something old something new,
something borrowed, something green! 
How a mantel is decorated can mean the difference between a fireplace that looks like a dark hole in the wall, and the fireplace that is a room's focal point.

If you have a fireplace and if your home is for sale, and if winter is winding down in your neck of the woods, it's time to give the mantel some love.

There are endless ways to stage a mantel. Here are some guidelines that I have found work for me.

Think Pairs. You don't always have to have two of something, but adding pairs makes mantel staging easier. Pairs add formality and structure. Even if your room is casual, starting with a pair of objects is a good beginning.

Mix Old and New. A collection of all new objects lacks contrast. A patina, some distressing, a bit of the shabby, or an artifact obviously from the past, these are what keep an arrangement from looking like a ready-made kit.

Stagger the Heights. Although some mantels do fine with a row of similar or even identical objects, using a a variety of heights will call attention to your fireplace. Home staging is all about showing off your home's assets, and a fireplace is definitely an asset. When you glance at your mantel, your eye should roll gracefully over the arrangement as though "reading" it from left to right.

Staggering the height of mantel elements might include, for example, draping a garland from the shelf or letting some greenery cascade over the edge. These are just two ways to get your zig zag going.

Add Texture. A shiny ceramic vase next to old leather bound books, some craggy driftwood in front of a glass hurricane, a metal roof on a weathered birdhouse, these kinds of juxtapositions make your mantel sing.
I wanted this springtime mantel to have "signs of life," so
I added both a rabbit and -- my favorite -- a frog.  

Find Unifiers. Like any art form, too much variation leads to chaos, and too much similarity creates boredom. Does your mantel have a unifying theme? Are you repeating a shape, a color, or objects that share a function, such as a collection of old cameras? In the mantel above, I used different shades of green as my unifying theme. Green is the color of spring. Use it to give your home on the market a shot of freshness.

Be Seasonal. Decorating the mantel for the seasons like autumn or winter is a good idea when you are staging a home, where you want the appearance of the property to look well-tended and up-to-date. Having a rangy poinsettia or a collection of snowmen on your mantel after February, tells house hunters that a house has been on the market too long, and that no one is giving it any attention.
The springtime mantel should showcase a sampling of
greenery, flowers, and other indicators of the season. 

If you see a mantel set-up in a blog, a book, a magazine, or a model home, that draws your attention -- in a good way -- analyze what makes it work. Usually, you'll see these guidelines at work.

You can find more tips on decorating mantels in my eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar. It's price? Just $4.99, and I promise to give your money back if you are not totally satisfied with your purchase. Download now so your home can sell itself!