Monday, January 24, 2011

Seasons of Mantel Decor

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” ~ George Santayana

While the rest of the country seems knee-deep in snow, we're soaking up the gorgeous sunshine and cool-but-not-cold temps here in Central Florida. The lovely weather got me thinking about how much fun seasonal decorating is. I don't mean just holidays, which is fabulous, but finding interesting ways to bring the look of each season into your home.

My favorite place for seasonal touches? The mantel. This New Year, I was inspired by this cover article in Country Living about decorating with white. I wanted some winter white wonderfulness of my own, so I started with the old country store sign I used for my Christmas mantel. Handpainted on cast iron, complete with bullet holes! (Proof it gets boring out in the country.)

Then I added some random white stuff I had lying around...

Hmm. It was a good start, but I wanted more height, and lots more white, on the left side. I came across the concept of a Wish Tree and loved it.

I picked two fallen branches out of the yard (If you need any, just come on by. And rake a bag of oak leaves while you're at it, k?). Stuck them in a white vase from Joann's, $6. Next I cut long thin strips of scrap paper and put them in a white water pitcher with a pen.

Now whenever I hear a disturbing story on the news, I say a prayer and write a wish for help and hope. Then I tie it on the tree (gently, so it doesn't tear). It's been a few weeks, but our tree is already filling with wishes -- for big things like Haiti's troubles, little things like potty training success, and personal things like friends going through a rough patch. Sweet, heartwarming ... and pretty!
The two black and white photos of rural signs were from an art show I helped promote years ago ... literally printed out on a laser printer. (If the photog is reading this, I really respect your work ... um, sorrrreeeee!) I had them in green mats, but took them out and spray painted the mats antique white. Found one white frame and one wood, which I -- you guessed it -- spray painted, at Marshall's for $5.99 each.

I took away the big lantern and left the smaller (Marshall's $12.99 -- from my beachy period last summer). The water pitcher is an antique from Grant's fam.
And here's the finished product. Love its wintery, vintage look!

While we're at it, here are some past seasonal delights! I was inspired by this montage of BHG mantel ideas for my look last fall:

I used leaf photos of all kinds -- everything from pictures I took on vacay, to photos I tore out of coffee table books to 29 cent scrap book paper. Bought cheap white mats in standard sizes at Michael's (about $2 each) and used my growing collection of black frames. Bronzey candlesticks were $7 each at Home Goods. Fancy candles -- handmade in St. Augustine -- courtesy of my sweet mama.

The camel back clock was my grandparents', I made the tree print and framed it for $10 at Michael's, the red "Home" frame is from a snotty gift shop in Brandon (Snooty ladies: no promo for you). The mirror is Target and the watering can was a gift from my dear MIL. Needs something with height on the right side, doesn't it? Better get going on that before winter is over and the mantel must change!

SO. I think the mantel can be kind of a scary decorating proposition for folks. It's such a focal point in most homes that it seems like we need to put something amazing there, or risk decorating disappointment. The go-to design element is the mirror, which is great but kinda dull on it's own. But add seasonal items -- close-ups of flowers in spring, apothecary jars of shells in summer, a garland of leaves in fall -- and it's interesting and classic.

What are your seasonal decor ideas? Share! I'm always up for something new over the hearth.

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