Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's Mantelicious, Baby

I really love a me an empty mantel is just a fun time waiting to happen.  Yeah, that is truly very lame but I can't help myself!  At the same time, it can be very intimidating for me to try and decorate my mantel.  I often will resort to the simplest decor I can find--last Fall it was pine cones and white candles.  Pretty, but I wanted to challenge myself this time.  Since at least March my mantel has looked like this:

Don't mind the very attractive child gate.  Children don't mix well with interior design.  Also, they don't mix well with fire.

This look was way traditional for me.  But I loved the scale of the painting (which was free) and the colors of it, and the boys of the house loved that it was two ships shooting cannonballs at each other, so what the heck.  Originally I envisioned just lots of glass candlesticks but I ended up wanting to weigh it down with something a bit heavier, and used books for that purpose.  But lately I have been craving something warmer and not too fussy, so its time to move on.  Let me walk you through what I do when I'm ready to change it up.  If you're not prepared to see a BILLION pics of my mantel, please feel free to scroll right down to the end.

I always start by emptying the mantel completely, and then gathering items from all over the house that might end up on there.  Sometimes that takes me days, but since I did this one during LB's nap, I had to do it QUICK and was running to and fro just collecting stuff and plopping it down on the coffee table.

Did you catch that deal on that Hobb Lobb mirror!  Boo yah!  Yes, I am a nerd and only nerds still say "Boo yah," but do you see the deal I got on that???  Boo yah!  Here's the close-up:

Boo yah!

In addition to changing up for Fall, I really, really wanted to break up with symmetry.  Me: "Symmetry, it's not you, it's me."  Symmetry: "but I have been so good to you!!!"  I know you have, Symmetry, but everywhere I look people are doing cool asymmetrical things.  See ya.  I started by placing the big pieces that I really think I want up there.

Hmmm...maybe with the red vase instead?

Nah, I like the black better, and the grass adds good height. Now, I definitely was in the mood to try an asymmetrical arrangement, but the control-freak within me needed to see that mirror in the middle, like so:

Where in the world is That Mommy Blogger?  Oh yeah, dorking it up in the mirror.  Sheesh!

Wow, that's bad.  Well, when you just toss random little stuff up there, what you get is a random pile of c-r-a-p.  I'm going back to my original plan of breaking up with symmetry. AND, back to the game plan of big pieces first, THEN accessorize:

I am down with this because the black vase balances how heavy the mirror is on the other side, but what else to do?  Then I had a brainstorm to layer art and went all around the house, again like a lunatic, grabbing things off the walls.  Added a print first:

Then a small framed watercolor by my son:

I really liked the feel of this.  It is balanced but not symmetrical.  That small print front and center makes it interesting.  And I like the muted colors.  I am doing my mantel for Fall but it might well be there past New Year's, so I didn't want to just go all Fall with it.  But these dark neutrals can work all winter long.  

My boy's an artist.  Pardon me while I wipe away a small tear.

Then it was just a matter of adding botanicals and accents--those wonky candlesticks were a cheap buy at a pottery sale a few years ago.  Some curly willow (is that what it is called?) with silk leaves hot-glued on.  Not exactly botanically accurate, but hopefully that's not a felony.  Here's a tip: I also used a bead of hot glue to secure the willow branches up there, because I get annoyed when stuff falls over.  Hot glue is pretty forgiving but you might want to test in a hidden area if you are worried about your paint.

And here it is with the candles lit...awwww, pretty!  Maybe it would be even better if it wasn't high noon with the shades pulled, but I gotta work within the parameters of naptime, ya know?

Yep, I like it.  I'll probably mess with it some, maybe change out those brown candles for rusty red or an olive green, who knows?  As long as I am getting crazy...

What do you think?  How do you style your mantel?

I'm lovin' the Linkys at:

This Blessed Nest


  1. I love getting to see the process and Wow what a wonderful mantel. Love changing mine up too. Coming soon ....

  2. wow!

    i too, enjoyed watching the process. i was trying to see the first print with the castle (?) or looks beautiful.

    the entire mantel is so balanced.

    thank you so much for linking up! Fall is one of the best times of the year.

    have a wonderful week.

  3. I really like this! It was fun seeing the step-by-step picts. I will admit, I was unsure when you first started, but by the end, I LOVED it! You're good.

  4. Great pictures showing what you did step-by-step. I loved that! I'm majorly decorating challenged, so this was great!!! It looks awesome!
    Visiting from This Blessed Nest Fall Festival. :)

  5. Thanks for the step by step pics. It is really fun to see how other gals do things. I love the final arrangement - especially the water color! Stopping by from This Blessed Nest Fall Festival.

  6. wow... you need to come to my house! :-) Love the progression of thoughts and placements haha. You seem like the kind of person thatd be a lot of fun to be around! Hope you have a blessed day!

  7. Hi I hoped over from Fall Festival....
    I love your mantel.... totally inspired me you have ..... and the watercolor by your son is excellent Im in love with it

  8. Thanks for the sweet comments, you fun peeps you! Kellie--you have a good eye! That print is a castle called Rocamadour in France--I was lucky enough to go in high school and still have the print. Thanks to those of you who came by from Kellie's Blessed Nest! Love to have you!

  9. Hi Michelle, beautuful job on your mantle, I agree, they are a fun time waiting to happen! :) I used the phrase "...can I get a whoop, whoop..." not long ago and my nephew informs me that: "that is not a widely used phrase anymore..." I told him only cool people still said stuff like that! :) Great job on the mantle!


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