How to Style your Mantle like a Pro


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Hey everyone!! How is summer going?  I ask this because summer is seriously going… going… gone.  I feel this for many reasons, one being the sun looks different in the sky.  I always notice this in August, which is the ultimate start to a long farewell.  Honestly, once you start to notice how different the sun looks during the day and how much time you are loosing in daylight, you too will feel autumn approaching.  Another reason I know the summer has come to an end is the start of school…YIPEE!!!   Fall is one of my favorite seasons which is why I feel it needs its own decor all together.  Bringing in more earth tones in deep honey, chocolate and caramels is a must!!  So long summer decor and hello autumn.  Which brings me to the reason for my post, styling, and updating your mantle for the fall season which is just the start to a long run with holiday decor.  I always like to kick off the holiday decor season with a little fall display followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas.  And it doesn’t just stop there…then you have Valentines, St. Patricks Day, and Easter.  After Easter, I am so burnt out that I style spring/summer decor and don’t think of it again till I can smell fall in the air once again.  When I then feel ready to style something different and fresh.  So prep yourself and get ready to welcome all the seasons, starting with a few guidelines on one of America’s favorite holiday decor canvases, your fireplace mantle.  That’s right, the fireplace mantle.  Think about it, when you prepare for any holiday, say Christmas, you always think of the fireplace mantle first.  So let’s have a quick run-through of some style rules (I like to call them guidelines) to help us train for a long season of changing out all the beautiful things.

photo cred: David Tsay @ EHD

So long summer decor, let’s tuck you into your long winter’s nap and I’ll see you on the other side.  I may or may not have this conversation in my head… (channeling my inner Marie Kondo).  First, let’s start with clearing the mantle and prepping it for a new style.  I always enjoy switching things up before they get too stagnant. What a perfect time to do so with the change of the season.  I like to prep the mantle with a light dusting and cobweb clearing as my mantle has been neglected all summer.  Then I visualize what I want the outcome to be using my special recipe.  That special top-secret recipe that all the stylists use… ok, maybe not that top secret.  The first step in this recipe is to find an ingredient that is vertical or tall.  Something tall placed off to the side or sides of the mantle as pictured above.  The candlesticks and stacked books with the seal-like sculpture, (not sure what that sculpture really is but I totally dig it) create height in this example.  The second step is to find a horizontal/short ingredient.  Something that elongates your design such as the books on the end laying vertical or the sculptural like tray with a brass handle.  This helps to balance out the height, balance is the goal we are going for here so you may need to play with it a bit to find just the right piece.  That’s half the fun of it though (at least for me) finding the right piece to the puzzle and having fun along the way.

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The next ingredient needed would be something shiny, in the example above it would be the mirror.  Now, you don’t have to use a mirror but something with visual texture in the realm of shiny would be just the piece.

photo cred: EHD

In this example above, something shiny could be either the visually interesting vase (the ceramic texture of the vase reflects light feeling shiny) or the beautiful sconce which of coarse produces light that is…SHINY.  While I love a mirror as much as the next person, I like to think a little different and be/do differently.  In my opinion, we don’t use enough sconces on the mantle anymore and I for one would love to see this trend reemerge.  All in all, this would be a wonderful alternative for your “shiny” piece.

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In the world of balance, what would the opposite of shiny be?  You guessed it, dull.  The fourth ingredient… something dull.  In the example above a black and white photo can really bring balance to your mantle.  Honestly, the element of the wood mantle is dull enough to bring in that ingredient all by itself but the black and white photos finished it off nicely.  Another good alternative to the black and white photos are some neutral colored books stacked in an interesting way.  The options are endless it is just up to the eye of the designer.  That is really all this is after all.  What you feel is the correct balance and what you like because, in the end, this is your home and your mantle.

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The last and most important ingredient, (at least in my opinion) would be the natural ingredient, the organic ingredient.  You will notice in all my examples pictured above, they all have some element of nature, a plant or beautiful twigs placed in a vase, etc.  If you know me you will know a design that truly feels fulfilled has an element of the outdoors.  Bringing a piece of nature into your indoor space always feels grounded and fresh.  Reminding you of the beauty of nature.

Just some more examples of some beautifully designed mantles.  I hope this post can help with any decor challenges you face in this upcoming season. When dealing with holiday decor, be conscious of the ingredients for a general guideline and place them where needed.  For example, something shiny for a Christmas mantle may be a shiny bell or an organic piece for Halloween can be some leafless twigs or jack-o-lanterns.  Another example of something for a Thanksgiving mantle using a verticle ingredient may be to use a cornucopia incorporating an organic ingredient with items used inside the cornucopia. Please share your mantles with me as nothing brings me more joy than to see someone styling and jamming to their own design.  I am addicted to design and would love you to supply me more of what I crave…beautifully styled spaces.

Happy tasteful Tuesday!



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