This year’s Christmas mantel is like a walk in a magical woods! It’s white and blond and rustic and glittery and filled with tiny lights! Snow-covered tiny leaves and sparkly mercury glass ornaments fall softly on the mantel/ forest floor while tall trees tower overhead. Come see how we decorated our new mantel for Christmas!
Our mantel at Tanglewood looked like this when we moved in! Okay, but very bland!!!!
And just 6 weeks later it looks like this…
After Christmas, I’ll show you how the transformation was made but for now, let’s enjoy the Christmas decorations!
FINDING INSPIRATION FOR A CHRISTMAS MANTEL
I had this idea of a walk in the woods in my mind for this year’s Christmas decorations. Trees are a favorite of mine and in recent years I’ve collected a whole forest of white and light-colored trees.
The white lit trees look a bit scraggly! And for some reason, I just love them especially when they are mixed with more refined looking trees like the paper trees trimmed in silver!
With the theme of “a walk in the white woods” in mind, I gathered up all my white trees and lots of silver ornaments. I also found bunches of pretty floral stems with teeny, tiny brown-ish leaves on them that look like they were covered with snow. And the combination of the three became the stuff of magic for the Christmas mantel this year!
I think it’s so important to have a theme or a story running through our minds when decorating! Decorating is so much easier when we have a thought or an idea to translate from our heads to a room or a mantel or a bed or a sofa or a coffee table in our homes!
This theme was the inspiration for the Christmas decor in our whole home this year! You might like…
Another very important thing to consider when decorating a mantel is a color scheme.
Always, always have a color scheme! It will give you an automatic cohesive look! And we want a cohesive look!
I have tons of red and green and gold and silver Christmas decor in the basement but this year I mostly brought up whites and silver with a sprinkling of gold! It was hard to leave the evergreens in the basement for another year! But I knew they would not work with this year’s look!
I’ve already planned next year’s Christmas colors and they include red and all the evergreens in the basement!
ADDING THE FIRST THING
I thought you might like a little design lesson running through this post. So I’m packing in all the why’s and how’s of making the best Christmas mantel!
I started decorating this Christmas mantel by adding a blond Christmas wreath to the center of the mirror.
I found this wreath at a local shop. You know the feeling when you find something you know will work with your decor? I usually grab it up if the price is right! I have developed a good sense of what will and won’t work in my home!
Like the white trees, the wreath is a bit unusual… but I just love it!
SETTING THE HOLIDAY MANTEL FOUNDATION
After hanging the wreath I went to work setting up my stand of trees across the mantel. Balance is very important when decorating! And not the trees became the foundation of the mantel but I also added some chunky rustic candles into the tree mix!
I tried to balance the trees and candles on the left side of the mantel with the trees and candles on the right!
Balance is all about making the visual weight of one side of something, the mantel in this case, the same as the visual weight of the other side. Not matchy-matchy but balanced.
Here is a great post all about balance. It’s really worth your time to read!
Not only are the trees and candles balanced across the mantel but they are also added so there is a variety of heights too!
One of the things that make what we decorate so pretty is the ability for our eye to travel from one height to another across a surface or around a room!
And our decor is seen as every so pretty if the colors are tight and repeated and things grouped together too. Phew, lots of work for just adding a layer of trees, right? But now YOU know!
So you see how important that first layer of trees and candles are to the overall look of the Christmas mantel? And really once the balance, heights and color palette are laid out, the rest is fill-in or embellishment! And I am the queen of embellishment! I love to make things pretty!
Just a comment about Christmas mantels and light…just do it!
A holiday mantel should be filled with sparkle and light. You can add light with…
- strings of lights
- fairy lights
- votive lights
I originally took pictures with all the little lights on but they had a very funky pink cast in the images I took. In real life, they look golden and warm. So, I retook all the pictures with the lights off. But here’s just one (that I had to do a lot of editing to)!
FILLING IN THE SPACES, A SECOND LAYER
I filled in the spaces between the trees with groups of silver and mercury glass ornaments.
Oh, don’t forget to layer! Another important design element!
You can read all about layering here…
And there’s a video in the layering post too! Layering decor on your mantel is no different than layering decor in a room! Just on a smaller scale!
After the pretty ornaments were grouped across the Christmas mantel, it was time to add just the lightest layer of what I call “fluff”. It’s something, usually organic-ish that is light and airy and will blur the sharp lines of anything it is put against.
Don’t forget to add the fluff! It could be…
- small sprigs of evergreen, especially pine
- tiny springs of berries
- fairy lights
- bead garland
- seeded eucalyptus
- cedar boughs
I cut apart big stems of these tiny leaves and added them under, over and tucked them in next to sparkly ornaments!
Adding that last layer to anything you decorate is when the magic really begins! I can lay a good foundation, fill in the spaces with that all-important second layer but when I add fluff… Oh, I can almost instantly see my decor transform.
When I laid down those first couple sprigs of tiny leaves, MAGIC! This is my FAVORITE part of decorating!
DON’T LET YOU MANTEL STAND ALONE
One of the biggest decorating mistakes I see is lovely decor standing alone!
So I would never let my mantel stand up there alone without adding some repeated element to the hearth or floor around the mantel. I don’t want to keep my eyes or your eyes stuck up on the mantel so I need to give them a little help down!
And we do that by adding like elements of the sides and hearth and floor around the mantel. It does not need to be much. Just a taddy bit or hint of what’s on the mantel.
This will help our eye climb down off the mantel and be able to look around the rest of your room. Remember, your mantel is probably the focal point of your room so our eyes will go to it first!
I use this saying to remind me to add a bit of what’s on my mantel around it…
THE CHEESE STANDS ALONE
Remember the children’s nursery song, The Farmer In The Dell? Do not let your mantel be the cheese! The farmer takes a wife and the wife takes a child and the child take s a dog…
Make sure your mantel has a partner! We don’t want it to be like the cheese. LOL! Get it? I knew you would!
YOU’RE NOT DONE YET
One of the things I do when the initial Christmas mantel decorating is over is to stand back and look at the design.
Is it beautiful? Does it convey my theme? Is it balanced? Is the color scheme cohesive? Did I vary enough heights? Is there enough lighting? Does my eye travel from one thing to another? Do I need to edit? Or add?
This is when I make those corrections. This is when I’m looking specifically for ways to make the mantel better.
Looking at your beautiful mantel with a critic’s (not critical) eye will really help…
- train you design eye
- help you rework areas that could use a bit of help and
- give you the biggest sense of accomplishment!
THE IMPORTANT LAST THING
Many years ago I took up painting. I love painting! And took lots of classes. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination! And I’m not being modest! Believe me!
Anyway, I was the happiest artist in my classes. My expectations were so low! I really did not fuss or want to rumple up my watercolor and toss it away.
I was seriously the best student. Not in ability, but attitude!
I knew a little secret. I knew of “trunk magic”! You see no matter how bad my creations looked compared to my classmates I knew if I put my drawings and paintings into the trunk of my car and drove home and waiting till the next morning to pull out my masterpieces something magical would happen!
When I took my creations out of the trunk they would look AMAZING!!!! Something happened in the trunk overnight and I would say to myself,
“You are a genius! A master artist! Your work is beautiful!”
You see (remember how low my expectations were) when I got away from all the truly gifted artists and saw my paintings with a little distance from actually painting them I could really appreciate them!
So I use “trunk magic” when I decorate.
After I have used my critic’s eye to evaluate my mantel. I walk away. And if I can I stay away from it for a few hours.
Then I turn on some Christmas music and revisit my mantel. And usually when I see it with “fresh eyes” (and Christmas music) trunk magic happens!
Oh, I LOVE trunk magic! Now is the time to be thankful for your talents and to take a mental or physical victory lap to Angels We Have Heard On High… because you probably did !!!!
MY CHRISTMAS MANTEL WISH FOR YOU
Yes, for me this year’s Christmas mantel has trunk magic!
And I hope I’ve helped you a bit today to demystify the design that goes into creating a Christmas mantel and have given you a few memorable phrases to remind yourself YOU CAN DECORATE!
Enjoy the process and believe in the magic of Christmas and your trunk!