We have been in our house for one year now, and I literally just got the last couple of boxes that have been sitting in our dining room this whole time put away last week. And by put away I mean put in the attic still full of stuff. Most of which was decorative stuff. Picture frames, a couple mirrors and so forth. A whole year and besides a frame collage I managed to put up in our bedroom, and a few pretty plates in our kitchen I've put nothing on our walls. One reason is that I want to be sure it's something I am going to love before putting nails in the wall. Second is not wanting to spend a fortune on things, and having to wait until I find something I like at a thrift store or have the time to DIY. Which is why I am so glad I have a mantle.
It is really important to me to have a cozy feeling home. Especially in the living room, since we spend so much of our time in there. Mantles are non-committal. If I put something up there and end up not liking it, I just take it off. Having it full and pretty really brings the room together for me without having anything else on the other walls.
I have especially loved decorating my mantle for holidays/seasons. Here is what it looks like now, all dressed up for Fall.
And in case you have mistaken me for someone who always has her house neat and tidy, think again....