With all the ideas, tutorials, and how to guides on how to decorate your mantel that are being shared around the web lately, that can only mean one thing:
Mantel decorating lollapalooza season is in full swing!
More often than not, what I see out on the web, on Pinterest, etc. is overdone and too tricked-out. Mantels are loaded down with decor and bursting with all sorts of stuff, like art, greenery, candles, vases, and tchochkes. For some wild reason, everything under the sun somehow winds up sitting atop that mantel!
See how the mantel to the left is loaded down with decor and bursting with all sorts of stuff, like art, greenery, candles, vases, and tchochkes? There's so much going on here, imo.
While an over-the-top look is preferred by some...
And, certainly, during Christmas anything goes...
It actually makes sense to use The Elements of Design when you decorate your mantel.
I, for one, love to show a little restraint when I decorate a mantel.
Sure, I can whip up an overloaded mantel faster than anyone. But, these days, I prefer to use a simpler approach that uses items and/or elements I find myself always returning to, time and time again.
What are MY go-to mantel decorating items? Well...
ITEM #1: Some kind of vessel
A vase, urn, pot, etc. can either be used as a standalone item, or a number of them can be grouped together in a collection. Collections work well on large mantels.
ITEM #2: Something green or organic
My favorites to use are branches, because they can give a display some height. They also add a lightness and airy quality. Another organic item I like: schefflerra leaves. I clip them from my garden so I don’t have to buy them, AND they last forever —I’m talking, two months or so. They’re sculptural and only a very few are needed. Fresh flowers are fabulous, I might cut some from my garden, or just buy some on special occasions. I use them in conjunction with branches, which stay up year round.
ITEM #3: Something seasonal
Branches with colorful berries, leaves, etc. can be added to the vessels you’ve selected. Honor the season by going big, or you can keep things simple by only using a few sprigs of whatever you choose. Pumpkins or spring color, something that telegraphs the season, can make your mantel look fresh.
ITEM #4: Candles
I love having candles on the mantel. Their flickering light adds such a nice touch to the atmosphere of a party by drawing attention to the focal point of the room.
ITEM #5: Something personal
I like to see something that speaks of the homeowners on the mantel. Some favorite object, whether it’s a cherished object or an item collected while on vacation. Any type of object that’s special to you, personally, will always make for a thoughtful addition to a mantel.
Next, let’s go over some tips on how to use these decorative items
as you decorate your mantel:
TIP #1: Use branches in tall vases to give height.
Branches inserted in tall vases that are placed on one or both sides of the mantel will give your display some much-needed height, drama, and create a framework for your design.
After you've situated your tallest branches, work your way down in height by inserting smaller vases, objects, or candles. As for how you arrange the items, you can create a half-circle in a symmetrical style, or you can take an asymmetrical approach. you prefer is fine.
TIP #2: Use repetition.
When working with a long surface, you can use repetition to create an interesting pattern. For instance: Repeat tiny pumpkins or votive candles across the mantel. The look it will create will be much more interesting than the bare space that would have been left over without it.
While you might have tall elements on one or both ends of your mantel, a repetition of items in the middle can fill out the decor and marry the two far sides together.
Oh, and repetition works well alone, too.
TIP #3: Limit the types of items you use.
Don’t put too many varied items on one mantel. I’ve seen mantels decorated with a wide variety of different types of objects that were thrown in altogether. Pare your collection of items down to 3-5 different types. Then, if you need/want more, populate the rest of the space with a repetition of a certain something.
TIP #4: Keep it simple.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of keeping your mantel’s display truly simple.
After all, a little can go a long way.