Fireplaces used to be the heart of the home til we all migrated to the kitchen, but they’re still usually the focal point of the living/family room. Decorating the mantel and hearth (if you have one) can be challenging – maybe the mantel is really narrow, or too high on the wall. Sometimes the challenge is that you can’t come up with what you think is a good idea – a plan. That was my problem this year…..and this is how I solved it.
MANTEL DECOR ABC’s
I moved to a new house this year and for the first time I actually have a mantel – it’s long and fairly deep with a raised hearth. Perfect for holiday decorating I thought. But then I started to feel the pressure to make something striking and perfect. Oh-oh. So for a couple of weeks I browsed other sites, read magazines and generally went through input overload. As D-day approached (decorating day), I still had no clear idea. So one afternoon I just pulled out all my miscellaneous bins, leftover ornaments and greens and started playing.
Over the mantel is a very tall wall space so I think I’ll move my largest wreath there – it’s a 36″ wreath filled with beaded fruits (you can see more of it in the free Wonderful Holiday Wreaths guide). Then I added a garland & filled it with more of the fruit and made a center focal point.
You’re not going to believe this, but I lived with this a couple days and decided it was too tame. I quite liked it but felt I wanted something…..else. So out came all the bins again and I started over.
A couple years ago I bought these giant (8″) pears so I thought I’d try a more modern, minimalist look. Nope, too stark.
I moved Santa over to balance the little tree and added folded dinner napkins to anchor the pears and add some color. I’m liking that better, but if one napkin is good, maybe two would be better?
Adding patterned napkins adds a layer of interest. Took pears away and tried candles and a flower arrangement using leftover greens and glittered poinsettias.
I’m ready to add the pears back in, but not all in a row this time. I much prefer asymmetry in my decor, so you can see one side is going to be a little stronger. I’ve got pears stacked on clear glass bowls and on each other to vary the heights.
I thought a layer of greens would tie the two sides together. The garland was too thick and hard to get my items to stand straight, so I just laid some fresh green branches flat on the napkins. (Since I use an artificial tree, I just went to the tree lot and asked for branches that had been trimmed from the bottom of trees and got them for free.)
To keep the continuity between the fruit wreath and the mantel, I used some of the same beaded fruit picks tucked amongst the greens. The vase is filled with fake snow to cover the silk flower stems. I added some really tall sparkly branches to the vase arrangement to emphasize height.
Here’s my finished, really finished fireplace decor (obviously we never use the fireplace). I ended up not using the napkins (too country), added a forest of trees and used the wreath ribbon to tie it all together. I still used both reindeer, but not symmetrically placed, so overall I’m loving this look. Think I’ll pack up those bins now.
OTHER MANTEL INSPIRATION
Here are a few other ideas on mantel decor that I found interesting. A visit to Southern Hospitality gives you a more formal take on mantel decor. Plus she shares a great idea to improve the looks of those inexpensive garlands from the craft stores. On Thursday, 12/10 she’s hosting a Tour of Homes so be sure to visit to see lots of links to lots of beautiful homes all decked out for Christmas.
How have you overcome your mantel challenge? There are as many ways to decorate a mantel as there are homes – and we’d love to see some of your ideas. Email us a quick photo and we’ll share your ideas. Or, if you’d rather, share a photo of a favorite Christmas ornament along with why you love it and you might win a free goodie. Either way, we’d love to hear from you.