Not quite a spring mantel

Despite the snow flurries that fell thick enough to coat the ground this weekend, I’m pretty sure it’s spring. Easter was early this year, but not that early, right?

Snow on Easter Sunday

It seemed like it was time to update the mantel for spring. We still light the fire most nights, but the snowshoes on the mantel seemed to be a bit out of season.

For me, styling a mantel is like styling a bookshelf–challenging.

I replaced the snowshoes with some green glass bottles. I separated the pair of antlers and spread out the trio of spherical tealight holders. But I’m not sure it’s working for me.

Fireplace mantel decorated for spring

I’ve learned I really like the pop of black from the lantern–and the glow of the candle at night–but I’m wondering if maybe I should do without it for the spring.

The glass bottles seem a little small to me. And I think their watery blue-green tone says summer more than spring.

I’d love your input and advice on what you’d do. Here are your constraints:

  1. The stone needs to be the main feature of the fireplace. That means no covering it up with a huge painting or mirror, although something smaller might be acceptable.
  2. I want balance, but I don’t want symmetry. Matching topiaries at either end of the mantel with a perfectly centred hurricane are not me.
  3. Bigger is better when it comes to tchotchkes. The fireplace is 8 feet wide and 9 1/2 feet tall and close to 4 feet deep. It’s a monolith. From the mantel to the lowest point of the ceiling is 40 inches. The accessories need to be equally large scale so they don’t get lost.
  4. I’m cheap, so there’s no way I’m spending much money on decor, especially if it’s going to change seasonally.

This post from Kim at Tidbits and Twine has an easy formula for styling a mantel. I particularly like her layers of anchor, weight and filler. However, I’d have to put my anchor off centre. 🙂

Here are some of the things I’m thinking of:

  • Something living (or more likely, given my luck with plants, a decent replica of a living thing)
  • Large crocks or bottles (or urns or tarnished trophies?)
  • Candles or lanterns of some kind (maybe an oil lamp or a candelabra could be fun)
  • Some appropriately “farmy” accessories (wagon wheel hub, grindstone, antlers)
  • Something appropriately seasonal (is there something that says spring besides the obvious tulips and hyacinths?)
  • Art (even though I don’t want a central painting, a smaller scale painting or sculpture or mirror might be nice)

This picture speaks to me. Even though the fireplace is a completely different style from ours, are there some lessons I can apply?

Help me bring spring inside, even if it hasn’t arrived outside yet. What are your styling secrets for mantels? What accessories would you use?


12 thoughts on “Not quite a spring mantel

  1. Forsythia and Pussy Willow always say Spring to me – and you could do rather long branches in a dark, tall vase to give some height to the mantlescape. If you like the lantern I would make it a constant from season to season – no reason you have to change everything. I’ve always heard that odd numbers of things are visually more interesting. Maybe find some more antlers and stack them in a jumble to get some bulk. Mix the round tea lights with 3 similar colored candlesticks of different heights- make two groups (2 round + 1 tall and 1 round + 2 tall) and separate them for balance. Take pictures that show the whole area – floor to ceiling if possible – sometimes you see things differently in a picture than in real life. With the stone & wood you should try for more colors and fewer neutrals. Hope you don’t mind the brain dump of ideas!

    • Thank you for the brain dump! I appreciate it. I looove pussy willow. It may not give me the colour against the stone, but I agree with you that it totally says spring. I like your suggestion on the candle groupings. I love having a formula, and your suggestion of the mix and the odd number is definitely something I can work with.

      • Brain dump is about all I’m good for – no practical experience with mantle (not many fireplaces in Florida) and I’m starting to pack the house for selling it. I tend not to change things seasonally (warm & dry to hot & humid to hotter & rainy) but leave them be until a new acquisition changes the direction of a collection.

        Mix the pussy willow with the forsythia – the yellow & spring green will help it show against the stone. You definitely need some color against the stone – maybe keep the lantern and antlers (rearrange a jumble of them when the mood strikes you) and change out different vases with flowers or greenery and candles for seasonal color.

        I like Jessica’s wreath idea – can you make a wreath of forsythia? Grapevine in the fall, evergreens or pinecones in the winter. Not sure about summer – but you get the idea.

        These things evolve and half the fun is finding things that really work and that remind you of special times or places or people.

  2. I think the mantel display definitely needs more height. The fireplace is huge, and it would be pretty hard to have the main feature not being the stone! I like the mirror in your inspiration pic, as it draws the eye up from the mantel. I very much like the arrangement you have on the mantel, just feel that it needs some more height and colour. What about an antique sign? You could lean something up against it and put your pussywillows or apple blossoms or whatever in front of it, to highlight them. I also like the idea of branches in a tall vase. Donna at Funky Junk Interiors has some pretty creative mantels, and she like to do it frugally as well. (Btw, in her world the word “junk” is a compliment!) Here’s some more of hers plus a mantel linky party:
    I know your mantel will come out beautifully on that gorgeous fireplace! And you probably don’t want to hear this, but the snowy picture is lovely 🙂

  3. Mantels and shelves are hard for me too. I usually dump plants on them and call them finished. I do think that your mantel is calling for something larger, however. What about a wreath if you do not want to use a mirror or a picture? You could do a spring wreath, and the stone would still be visible in the center.

  4. I would leave the lantern if you like it, or get another one in a lighter colour (I think Ikea has them). And then I would do a large jar or vase with pussy willow branches and forsythia branches. Very springy!

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