There was a time when the mantel piece in the home was the place to find the family photographs and ornaments that you wanted to have on display. And then along came minimalism, and many people preferred the clean-cut look of clear surfaces and hardly any decorations on view. These days, even around gas stoves and electric fires, most of us tend to mix the old and the new and choose the look we love for the room we use the most. Mantel decorations can come into their own for accenting your style and bringing character to your home.

Your fireplace should be the place people automatically feel drawn to. As a heat source and focal point, the mantel in your home is going to get a lot of attention, especially during the cooler months of the year. Not everyone wants a mantel, but for some, it’s a feature that really finishes the look of the fireplace. So let’s consider the kinds of decorations you could use to bring out the personality of your hearth.

First, let’s consider the mantel itself. For normal sizes of fireplaces, a traditional shelf will work well. It won’t detract too much from the fireplace, and it should be nicely proportioned for the room. If you have an extra large fireplace or gas stove, consider stone or marble for the mantel. Wood looks more traditional, and if you like the look of carved wood, that’s an option. If you’re wondering whether or not to go with a mantel shelf at all, bear in mind that, even if you’re someone who doesn't want their family album on the show, that shelf can still offer a useful place to perch Christmas and birthday cards.

At other times of the year, consider following the seasons, and changing your decorations to fit. That means you can improvise with fresh flowers and pinecones, Christmas decorations or spring bunting. Just make sure that whatever you use is going to be hung or positioned well away from the heat itself. That means avoiding placing anything directly in front of the fireplace, which is the hottest area. Also, make sure you’re leaving a space of 6 inches or more from the opening itself. You can, of course, choose decorations that are fireproof or flame resistant, and that will give you extra peace of mind.

Another popular way to accent a fireplace is to use candlesticks and sconces made of similar materials. So, for example, an assortment of black metal candleholders placed on a coffee table can extend the feel of your gas stove further into the centre of the room. The flames of the candles will evoke the theme, and bring a look of warmth to the room.

And besides all that, a mirror hung above the fireplace is a classic way to open out the feel and look, as well as providing a practical decoration for guests to check their appearance as they warm themselves by the fire.

Your choice of fireplace decorations will depend on your own preferences and space, but choose well from the range of options and you will find you can renovate a tired room and bring the fireplace back to centre stage.