I don’t know about you, but since I was a little girl I dreamed of getting married and having a home of my own. I also dreamed about being a prosecuting attorney by day and a female police officer by night but that was only thanks in part to 80’s television dramas such as, LA Law and TJ Hooker. I digress, one design element that I truly hoped my house would have was a fireplace. In my mind the fireplace and mantle embodied all that a real home and family would need for memories that last a lifetime.
I envisioned roaring fires,I could see loved ones posed in front of it for pictures. I fantasized that I would cozy up in front of it on cold winter nights with a mug of cocoa and a thick book…
But who was I kidding? Only the last two homes I’ve lived in have had a mantle atop a working fireplace and I have a daughter with asthma so it gets very little use. In reality the fireplace and mantle itself have been a source of great discomfort and anxiety for me.
As as youngster I would sweat through my clothes every Christmas, forced to sit on the floor in front of the hot fire while we opened our presents at G’ma Betty’s house. Then as an adult I would watch my husband jam the thing full of dry wood and the Sunday paper and wonder why my throat hurt, my lips were chapped and my clothes smelled like bacon.
But mostly as a home keeper it’s facing the daunting challenge of “what the heck” to put on the mantle and hang above it.If your like me, it’s all or nothing. I have a hard time being happy with the three framed photos and a candle in the middle. I’d rather it sit naked, taunting me.
So last fall I took back the night and I decided with the help of pinterest that I would use this focal point to showcase my style, whatever the holiday, and create something to bring a smile to my face every time I walked through the living room (which I do about 400 times a day). I hope you enjoy these mantlescapes (as we like to call them) and glean some inspiration or ideas if you too struggle with decorating the mantle as we once did (and still do most the time). – Honestly, Amy
I used scrap-book paper to create the garland and different colored hearts in various sizes that spell out, “MY LOVES”. I cropped favorite photos of my three girls and one of the hubs and I on our first real date to Chicago 15 years ago. I covered a framed print with vinyl chalkboard cling and drew the “BE MINE” with chalk, I painted pieces of wood decor that I no longer love and some card board letters that I picked up at the “Christian” craft store (Hobby Lobby). I also cut out some felt hearts and added red yarn to last year’s Halloween Owl wreath to make it work in the space. The colorful wooden Valentine roses and hearts where decorations my mom has had in her house for decades and gave them to me just this year. I like having some hand me down decorations, they help me to reminisce of the first time I enjoyed them as a child.
The garland is felt and burlap, I could have made it but when I saw this at Target it was promptly thrown in the cart along with the ceramic bird and rabbit. The framed print is the rendering of a local Chicago artist. It’s called “leaving the nest” and it reminds me that my little birds will soon be gone and I must enjoy them while I can.
Most of the stuff I bought at Hobby Lobby i.e., the vintage Halloween plates, candelabra and candles, oh and the black tulle. I had the mirror and “BEWARE” sign. I liked the idea of the empty painted picture frames, it was as if the person in the picture had disappeared. I was going for spooky but not scary. (Expressionless little girl optional, it was the only picture of the fireplace I had). I threw in some orange lights and candles in the firebox for a “glow” and the pumpkin is a Hob Lob white ceramic. (note, all items were 40% off)
I used my “left over” small porch pumpkins from Halloween and painted “thankful on them with a paint pen. I stole a mirror from an old dresser, used a burlap wreath I made in the spring including my moss “S” but added vintage thanksgiving postcards. The candles are covered with a birch bark look and some old green generic wall hangings I had hidden in the attic from the 90’s to balance out the look. I don’t know what the “look” was that I was going for but it works for the week before I pull out the Christmas decos.
For Christmas I decided to ditch the ole red and green in exchange for a white Christmas. It actually turned out looking like Jesus’s 25th silver wedding anniversary. I wanted to write the words to one of my favorite Christmas carols on black board with white paint but the white paint was opaque looking and didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I placed two stocking holders up and used an old curtain rod to hang our 5 stockings from. I silver spray painted the 25 cardboard numbers as well as two of the cream candles that where used in the fireplace from the Halloween display. I had the cross (it is Jesus birthday and all). I also spray painted the wall hangings that where originally terracotta and used outdoors. This look also feels a little Liz Taylor and I miss color. I will probably celebrate Santa next year, who knows?