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Colorize Your Mantel

Add oomph to this natural focal point and bring out the beauty of the woodwork with some unexpected color

Standout Mantel Paint Ideas

Even the snappiest mantel can look a little lost when cloaked in wallflower white. Which helps explain why pros like Amy Wax, an architectural color consultant in Montclair, New Jersey, are beginning to prescribe something a little livelier. For one thing, saturated shades do a better job than white of highlighting molding details, like fluting and rosettes. Adds Wax, "You're making something that has some clout even more important. It then becomes the anchor you can decorate around."

Painting a plain mantel in an unexpected hue can reinforce its status as a focal-point feature and provide a counterpoint to otherwise white woodwork. "Mantels offer just the right amount of surface for a spark of color," says Debbie Zimmer, a paint and color expert with the Paint Quality Institute, who painted her own mantel a taupey brown

Strong Statement

Photo by Dominic Blackmore/Ideal Home/IPC+ Syndication

Bold yellow makes this mantel's details more vivid while giving a lift to pale neutrals like gray and beige. A shot of the same sunny color nearby, on a side table, along with the area rug's gold tones, contributes to the room's balanced feel.

For a similar look: Behr's Mellow Yellow (mantel) and Gentle Rain (walls).

Framed in Black

Photo by Eric Piasecki/OTTO

Matching this mantel's rich, dark hue to the frames above it helps unify the unusual pairing of wall colors, says Zimmer.

For a similar look: Valspar's Lincoln Cottage Black (mantel), Amber Rose (upper wall), and Amazon Silt (wainscoting and casing).

Layered Greens

Photo by Joe Standar

Loden helps anchor a soaring accent wall painted pale sage. The mantel and the slate-gray surround stand up to the dramatic exposed beams, and the two greens bring out yellow tones in the wood.

For a similar look: Benjamin Moore's Mountain Lane (mantel) and Folk Art (wall).

Outlined in Blue

Photo by Trevor Richards/Country Homes and Interiors/IPC+ Syndication

In this cozy space, the simple mantel and wainscoting step back, says Wax, while a ribbon of colonial blue on the fireplace surround provides a welcome accent.

For a similar look: Sherwin-Williams's Hardware (mantel and walls) and Regatta (surround).