How to Display an Urn at Home

Question: Where do I put a cremation urn in my home?

The funeral is over, the arrangements have all been completed. The cremation took place, and now you're picking up the ashes.

The next question is...

Where do you place the cremation urn in your home?

Read carefully through this whole article because below, we'll consider things like potential damage to the urn, "keeping your loved one close," thinking through the reactions of visitors and guests (and whether that's important to you or not), hiding the urn in plain sight, and what to do if you simply have no more space.

Let's dive in.

How to Display an Urn at Home

This "Doves" urn is available here; also made in companion size for "Lovebirds" available here

Some people prefer to tuck away the urn, perhaps in a closet or up in the attic. But you're wanting to display the urn.

Others have the urn buried in the family plot or stored in a columbarium niche. Those are great options, but again, you're here because you are looking into how to display the urn at home.

We've been providing gorgeous, display-worthy cremation urns for over two decades. So we know a thing or two about urns. Here, we'll share a little of what we've learned over the years in hopes that it will inspire you as you seek to honor your loved one's memory with the placement of the urn.

The Main Thing

As you read on, try to simultaneously think about the choice of urn (design, color, style, material, etc) and specific display location (bedside table, shelf in office, end table in living room, etc). If you determine both of those at the same time, you'll create the best memorial display possible.

1. Consider the Effect You Want to Create

Subtle: Hide the Urn in Plain Sight

Do you want a smooth decor scheme in your home, with the memorial blending in to the surroundings? Do you want to avoid the chance of, perhaps, causing visitors to have an unsettling reaction?

Then you may want to go for the "hiding in plain sight" option. This is where you choose a beautiful urn that simply looks like a decor accent. Or maybe it's a simple box or vessel that coordinates well with the rest of your decor.

Bold: Create a Memorial Wall or Display

Even if you've never seen the contemporary classic Christmas movie Elf, you'll recognize the feeling behind this quote: "I'm in love! I'm in love! And I don't care who knows it!"

When that's the way you feel about your departed loved one, well, go all out in your memorial. Some people create a memorial wall, or dedicate a shelf or display case for the urn, photos, and other keepsakes. Many of those who are older, with children long grown up and out of the house, have additional rooms and can thus devote an entire room as a tribute area.

Private: In Your Bedroom, Den, or Office

This last option combines the previous two. It's subtle because the casual visitor to you home isn't going to be spending time in your bedroom or office.

And, back in the privacy of your room or a den tucked away somewhere, you can display as much as you want with minimal regard to what others might think.

2. Choose the Room to Place the Urn

Where do you want the ashes to be? Do you want them nearby, where you spend most of the day? Do you want the urn displayed, but maybe in a place where you won't see it all the time? Or do you want it to catch your eye every day as you sit down to enjoy your morning coffee?

Consider all these things as you choose the room in which to display the urn.

  • Living room - A central location with plenty of shelf or table options for display
  • Family room/den - In many homes, this is a more comfortable place tucked back in the house where you can display the urn without concern for easily rattled guests
  • Bedroom - A popular option, you can keep the urn on a bedside table, dresser, or on a shelf
  • Office - Easily display the ashes on your desk, bookshelf, or case
  • Hallway - Entry ways, stairwells, landings, nooks, and interesting corners are all great options to place a display table or cabinet for the urn
  • Kitchen - Not a typical place for the urn, but if your kitchen is large and/or you spend a lot of time there, you can set it up a shelf. Just avoid areas of heat or potential mess by keeping it away from the stove, the sink, and food prep areas

3. Consider a "Disguised" Urn

Memorial Plaque Urns for Display at Home

Or, even more discreetly, maybe you choose a "disguised" urn. An example of this would be our memorial plaque urns, which are lovely wooden plaques laser engraved so that they are effectively a memorial. This helps you honor your loved one's memory, with their name in full display, yet it doesn't look like an urn.

(These plaques are designed so that they hold the ashes between the front a back panel of the piece. So it just looks like a plaque with a thick frame.)

With quality American craftsmanship, a wide selection of designs, and personalization included, this is a great choice for a prominent display that doesn't advertise that it's holding the ashes.

Here's another idea, our original Floating Shelf Urn:

Pacific Crest Floating Shelf Urn in Mahogany

This gorgeous, handcrafted floating shelf is actually an urn in disguise. Available in Mahogany (as shown) as well as Maple, Walnut, or Alder with a dark Walnut stain.

A few other "disguised" urn options:

Where to Place the Cremation Urn in Your Home

So after all that, let's take a look at some of the best places to display the urn in your home.

Shelf or Bookshelf

If the urn is made from a breakable material, such as glass or ceramic, you'll want to keep it up and out of the way (especially if there will ever be little ones around) or just simply avoid placing it where it might get knocked over (like on an end table).

So a shelf is a great option. Use an existing one, or put one up especially for the urn. If you do, also think about what else you might want to display on the shelf (a photo frame, for instance; maybe a candle and some flowers) and size the shelf appropriately.

Fireplace Mantel

The mantel has always been a popular spot for urns and other memorials. It's already up and out of the way, and yet it's a prime location, central within the house.

Just be careful if you regularly use the fireplace. Heat can affect the urn, depending on the material. Stone, glass, and ceramic urns should be fine, but as with anything you'll want to make sure there's not too much heat. Wood can warp with temperature fluctuations, so be careful with that.

See "Where NOT to place the urn," below, for more on this subject.

Bedside Table

This is a more personal, intimate option. Any urn - and particularly small keepsakes - can go next to your bed.

Nightstands, bedside tables, dressers, vanities, or a shelf in your room; these are all equally perfect options that will "keep your loved one close."

Cabinet or Trophy Case

You may already have something like this - a china hutch, a bookshelf with glass doors, a trophy or memorabilia display case, and so on.

The great thing about putting the urn in a glass cabinet or case is that the urn will be easily visible, yet not as accessible as if it were sitting on an end table. Plus, people have a tendency to glance over these types of hutches and cabinets, so the urn can be displayed without it being preeminently obvious.

This is the ideal option for the more fragile memorial urns, such as glass.

On the Wall

Love Heart Cremation Urn Display Plaque

Perhaps your home is already fully decorated, or simply full. There's no shelf space or anywhere on the mantle for the urn to be placed.

This is where our wall-mounted memorial plaque urns are ideal. You can mount it to any wall in your home, and it will look fantastic. The contrasting light and dark woods are timeless and classy, complementing any decor scheme. And there are many, many designs and themes from which you can choose.

You can also set up a shelf for the urn on your wall. However, compared to the thin profile of our plaque urns, a shelf for most urns will have to be fairly deep; at least 6 inches at a minimum but typically more like 12 or 16 inches. 

Consider the size of the urn and the necessary shelf depth as you contemplate whether or not to mount a new shelf on the wall.

Where NOT to Place the Urn in Your Home

Over time, exposure to sunlight, heat, temperature changes, humidity, or moisture will damage just about any cremation urn.

Therefore, it's best to avoid keeping the urn in these locations:

  • Window sill (sunlight, temperature fluctuations)
  • Regularly-used fireplace mantel (heat)
  • Attic (heat/humidity)
  • Bathroom (moisture/humidity)
  • Kitchen (moisture, heat, general mess)
  • Garage or shop (unless it is insulated and temperature controlled)
  • Sunroom (sunlight, temperature fluctuations)
  • Porch or patio (sunlight, temperature)

Finishing Touches

If you'd like some more ideas for memorial decor beyond just the urn, you'll want to peruse this article on Creating a Memorial Space in Your Home.

Now that we've worked through many of the options for displaying an urn in your home, you've reached the time to go for it. Start by browsing our selection of cremation urns.

for the urn that will best honor your loved one while looking great in your home.

If you need additional info or suggestions on choosing an urn, feel free to contact us by phone or email and we'll be happy to help. Or simply read our 5-Minute Guide to Choosing a Cremation Urn, which will answer all the questions you may not even know you had.