It’s one long, intimidating shelf designed to hold a favorite collection or showcase your best decorating talent. And, you’re expected to start all over again to mark each holiday or the beginning of the next season, right? I’m talking about the mantel, of course. I’m here to tell you, decorating your mantel doesn’t need to be an overwhelming affair, unless of course we want it to be.
Here are 3 Easy Steps to Getting a Fresh, New Look on Your Mantel: Hunt, Gather, and Arrange! That’s it, I promise.
1. Hunt: In this step, you are going to go “hunting,” aka shopping, in your house. Who doesn’t love to shop? This is one of my favorite steps to decorating a new mantel display because it allows you to take stock of all the great pieces in your house that you’ve likely forgotten about or walk by everyday and don’t really “see” anymore. Before you get started, take a moment to think about a theme or a look you are going for. Right now it’s spring, for example, so I have fresh greens, vases, light colors and coastal pieces on the brain. But depending on what season it is, or what you have in mind, you might go in an entirely different direction. Either way, I would recommend sticking to 2 base colors as more than that can become visually confusing.
The key to this step is to hunt for anything that even remotely relates to the theme you have chosen. You may be surprised at how well items from different rooms in your house go together. Say you decided on blue as a theme, feel free to grab anything on the spectrum. Navy blue and pale blue make excellent companions. In today’s decorating world, matchy matchy looks dated dated!
And when hunting, don’t forget about your backyard! Nature provides some wonderful decorating elements. This is my favorite from my current mantel:
2. Gather: Clear off your dining table for this step so you can really spread out. You will need a big area to gather all of the items from around your house. Once you have everything together in front of you, it’s easier to identify the items you think might work. Set aside those you know you want to use. Then go back to the pile. What’s missing? Maybe you need more texture–look for items that have different types of wood or are made of rope. Natural elements bring in a richness and depth to the arrangement.
If you’re really feeling bold, you can take a paint brush to a few items during this stage. That’s what I did with this maple sugar bucket I bought for $5 a few years ago. I have been meaning to paint it white all along but this mantel display gave me the encouragement I needed:
I also recently painted this crab on pallet wood for my own house, for a change. I paint a lot of signs for other people, which I love doing! But sometimes it’s fun to pick up a brush and see where it takes me:
3. Arrange: In my mind, this is when you throw all of the “rules” out the window. Be bold! Pick 3 items and just get started. Move them around until you like how they look, then add more. Anything you put down can be moved again, the place you choose is not set in stone. And, don’t forget to take a few steps back and view from different angles from time to time. That’s how you can best tell if the mantel is balanced (I don’t mean symmetrical but rather, one side could have a bunch of heavy items, which generally doesn’t look right) and appealing to the eye.
And last, don’t forget to go back and fill in those unsightly holes you created all over your house!