Mantels can be tricky. They are typically the focal point of the living room where we spend most of our time. Too much stuff and you're trying too hard...not enough and it's a bore. I've found that my favorite mantels are simply balanced and collected. I've also found that many of them contain the same elements layered in different ways:
1. Focal point - Whether it's artwork or a mirror, choose one large piece that centers the design.
2. Containers - Great alone. Even better with fresh flowers!
3. Levels - Pretty boxes, stacked books or even more artwork. Levels are key! They add visual interest and shape.
4. Objects - The last step! This is where the personality comes out. The more objects you add, the more eclectic your mantel will look (so just add 1-2 things if your room is more streamlined).