Mantle Gets A Makeover... Twice

This is a prime example of how terrible I can be about blogging regularly. When I wrote the first draft of this post it was shortly after New Year's and I had just packed away the holiday decorations and given my mantle a new look for the new year. Well, it is now April and I have since tweaked the mantle design. Ideally I would have posted about each layout on its own, but it feels wrong to write a whole post about what my mantle used to look like so I'll include them both in one post. Consider it a freebie.

Here's what the mantle looked like for Christmas. A little holiday cheer with lots of simple neutrals. Riveting stuff but let's jump to the present, shall we?


This mantle-scape is a little bland but serviceable. I was trying to go for quirky and (believe it or not) asymmetrical. But looking at the photos, this is anything BUT asymmetrical. I have true symmetry on the ends and in the center, with what I can implied symmetry in between. And above it all is my winter wreath. I didn't design it this way, but the wreath has nothing going on in the way of Christmas or snow, I figure it can hang around for a bit.

On the end I have a wicker votive holder that I grabbed before Christmas and a glass hurricane with some tall, elegant sticks. The hurricane was originally bought to use at my wedding reception and the sticks are from - where else? - my yard. Only losers pay money for stickly vase fillers.

My next mini-vignette has a short stack of vintage National Geographic mags, an owl that was my great-grandmother's and a vase with pennies in it. Why pennies? It's because my great-grandmother (the original owner of the owl) had the nickname Penny and I thought it would be a nice little tribute. I'm a sucker for unique and sentimental decor. I got the idea for using National Geographic magazines as decor from Apartment Therapy a while back and it was just a matter of time before I snagged some on Freecycle.

On the other side I have another wicker votive and stick-filled-hurricane - twinsies! - that add balance and symmetry.

This mini-vignette has more National Geographics, an empty vase (from a thrift store?) and a stack of rocks that I stole brought home from a beach when we went to the west coast a few years ago. For added stability I glued the rocks together with some clear liquid nails. Those rocks aren't splitting up anytime soon.

In the middle I have the pair of check-envelope prints I made last summer and this silver-toned peanut my mom got for me at an estate sale.

Like I said, it wasn't hideous or anything, but it wasn't as dynamic as I was shooting for.


Before I show you the new mantle design I want to start with the cast of characters. Partly to heighten your sense of anticipation, but mostly because I don't want to write things the same way twice. It's all about me.

New Players:

blue ombre vase I just snagged from Home Goods for $7
sterling silver Jefferson cup my parents got as a wedding gift
white vase, also from Home Goods for $7
mercury glass bird on it - $8 from Home Goods
Returning Cast Members:

holiday wreath
wicker votive holder (still using two of these)
just one hurricane full of sticks - the only difference from before is I doubled up on sticks and vase filler (which is uncooked rice, by the way)
vintage owl
estate sale peanut which - surprise! - is a storage box (nothing in it just yet)
stack of rocks (and the same National Geographics)


I paired the new vase with the vintage owl because I liked how the vase pulled out the blue details on the owl. And those two play nicely with the glass hurricane and one of the wicker votives.

On the other side I sat my cheerful little bird on the magazines, put more sticks in my new white vase and filled in the little spaces with my west coast rocks and the other votive.

In the middle I centered one of the envelope prints under the wreath and flanked it with the silver peanut and Jefferson cup. Then I just added 2 glass vases I've had for years because they fill the space nicely without being visually intrusive. I haven't added the pennies back in yet, but I'm trying to figure out where to put them. Maybe in the vase behind the peanut?

And now, the big reveal...


Much better, right? I just love this arrangement. It's balanced without being so on-the-nose symmetrical. I think putting all the magazines on one side went a long way toward creating more visual interest. I also like how the two stick arrangements have such different shapes. I can't take credit for that - it's all because one vase has a bigger opening than the other - but since I'm the one that picked the vases, maybe I can take full credit. I still have one big craft project up my sleeve that will eventually replace the wreath, but for now I think the mantle is pretty settled. I'm not one of those people that likes to shake things up by swapping out decor all the time so the mantle will probably look like this for a while.

We're almost done here, but I can't let you leave without a backstage pass into my crazy. When I went to my yard to get more sticks the trees were wet from a recent rain which meant my sticks had to dry before I could put them on display. So what's a girl to do? Hang some sticks from a laundry rack, that's what.

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