Spring is definitely well under way and we’ve all jumped in to spiff up our houses after the winter hibernation. I know I have. My mantel is the first place I go to make changes because it makes such an impact on the room and is the easiest to do. Usually. I’ve taken you on journeys with me as I decorated other mantels in other houses, and this one presents its own challenges.
Existing Mantel Decor
Here’s my mantel before the spring “let’s change something” mood hit.
There are some good things about it: the colors from the art are carried to the vases, the ball shape in the art is seen in the vase on the left, items are tall enough to break the plane of the artwork to integrate them into a grouping. However, I always felt it looks a little stark – plus I HATE the plug being so visible. Do you see how deep that is? What’s a woman to do?
Steps for a Successful Mantel Makeover
1. The first step is to gather items that you might want to use on the mantel. Gather more than you think you’ll need. Gather a variety of heights, shapes, and textures so you have options.
If you start out without a theme or color scheme, one will likely begin to develop as you gather items together. As I start collecting, I’m thinking this print would serve as a good anchor, the vases add some height, the etching adds texture and I made the watercolor and “P” art. Clearly I need more.
As I gathered, I started looking specifically for more red, different shapes and other art I’d made. I found that most of those items are on the smaller side, so I thought I’d try a collage grouping (I wrote about art groupings in an earlier series).
2. You might try laying out the items/artwork you’re going to use on the floor to get an idea of how you want to hang them on the wall. Although I took my advice and laid them out, they actually ended up quite different on the wall.
On the floor I had the arrangement wider than taller which was silly because the opening is taller rather than wider. I adapted.
3. As you create your grouping, your goal is to blend the different colors, shapes, textures and accessories into a cohesive whole. My goal was to keep the red moving throughout the grouping, introduce a different shape or two (the red plate and Ps) and incorporate some leaning pictures to cover that darn outlet. You’ll notice I opted not to use the large Seattle print – the scale was TOO different from the other pieces I wanted to incorporate.
4. Step back and evaluate the mantel grouping for balance, rhythm, a focal point, etc. As I stepped back, I decided I like the art grouping; it fills the space, the asymmetrical balance suits me, color in art and frames moves nicely through the grouping. What I don’t like is the accessories below. The red plate feels visually heavier than the two green vases. I also feel like it’s missing a touch of nature – the owl feels a little lonely as the only “natural” subject.
5. Correct and adjust until the elements look pleasing. This may develop over an hour or over a couple days.
I decided to add some curly willow to exaggerate the height and add another natural element. It still feels out of balance to me.
With the addition of a small silk plant, the mantel feels finished to me. It added another “natural” element, it helped bulk up the spindly green vases, and it created more layering which adds a sense of depth.
Show Us Your Mantels
It’s time for some show and tell. Show us your mantels for spring. How do you change things up – do you just add some branches or flowers and call it good or do you do a whole makeover like me? Email us a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll share them in an upcoming post.
If you’re struggling with deciding on what color to paint a wall or how to choose a color for a new sofa, check out our comprehensive e-book, How to Successfully Use Color in Home Decorating. You can still take advantage of the introductory offer through May 25.