Simple Mantle Styling Tips from Lafayette Designer Elizabeth Gerace

" ABOUT THE designer: Elizabeth Gerace is an award-winning designer who has lived in Lafayette since earning her bachelor’s degree in interior design from the University of Louisiana. "

If you’re lucky enough to have a mantel in your home, you’ve probably spent some time wondering if you’re making the most of it.

According to Elizabeth Gerace, a Lafayette-based designer, your mantel decoration should first and foremost be a reflection of your style.

“The mantel is the focal point of the room — you should have fun with it,” says Gerace. “It’s a great place to have a showstopper.”

She recommends starting with a piece you love that is about two-thirds the size of your mantel. Gerace usually gravitates toward a client’s art collection, but says a mirror can be a great choice to reflect light. Sconces are another way to brighten the space and give your focal point a sense of importance.

“You can really set the tone and show a bit of your personality by adding quirky lighting,” says Gerace, who loves adding something unexpected, such as round bulbs with a more traditional fixture.

Next, she suggests bringing in a sculptural detail — a vase filled with seasonal greenery — to add weight on either side of your vignette. She favors native, seasonal plants, like cypress or fern clippings.

“Plants are a great way to add life to a space,” advises Gerace.

For those with a black thumb, she recommends dried flowers or spending the extra money to get high quality, artificial plants and “planting” them in real soil.

As a final step, Gerace suggests pulling in a few items of varying heights, grouped in odd numbers. This is a perfect opportunity to display a small personal collection or a couple of antique store gems. But, whatever you do, don’t go overboard.

The biggest design mistake you can make on your mantel, according to Gerace? Piling on too much stuff.

[Product credits: Capital Lighting three-light wall sconces in aged brass courtesy of Teche Lighting Center; painting is untitled work by Acadiana artist Olin “Leroy” Evans from the personal collection of Julia Autin Adams.]






1. Choose a show-stopping focal point. Look for something about two-thirds the size of your mantel.


2. Frame the space. Sconces draw attention and illuminate your focal point.


3. Add something structural. A vase with seasonal foliage (real or faux) adds life.


4. Layer with a curated collection. Group odd numbers of things that are a reflection of your style. Keep it minimal.