PROJECT DESIGN: How to Style Your Spring Mantel Two Ways

Same Mantle Two Ways

Hello all!

First, I need to apologize for not getting this Project Design blog posted on time! That would have been last Friday. I have been battling a bit of a Doc suspected West Nile Virus, but not really sure. All I know is every bone in my body hurt and worst headache ever. Ugh! I am much better now and catching up, so here's to Spring and how much better it can make one feel!

So Spring has definitely sprung in these parts! Flowers are springing up all over and what better way to bring the outside in than adding a few of those beautiful blooms to the most prominent place in your living room? The Fireplace Mantel!
When one enters a living space with a fireplace, it is only natural for the eye to travel to this most historic of focal points. Throughout the ages,  the hearth has been where the warmth and sustenance of any home would have been found. It is where family and friends would gather. So it is naturally a place for putting things of importance to the owners of the portraits, paintings bringing back special memories, mementos of travels,  or family heirlooms. It is also a place to show off the changes in the seasons. And so that brings me to Spring!
The mantel in our 1911 American Foursquare home was made from a somewhat homely pale orange brick, so I had it painted white when we moved in. Painted brick still has character while providing a clean slate for anything one might want to put above it.

So! When blogger friends contacted me to be a part of Project Design: How to Style Your Spring Mantel Two Ways, I was all over it! Coincidentally I had just purchased some candlestick holders I had recently seen in the CB2 catalog.  I was also getting much inspiration by a big event at the Crocker Art Museum that is now showing an exhibit titled Andy Warhol: Portraits on loan from The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg.

CB2 Candlestick Holders
Let me digress just a little bit....growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mother who was very involved in the modern art world in Southern California. She was putting together shows at the Pasadena Art Museum before it became the Norton Simon Museum. She then worked at both the Corcoran and Ace Galleries in LA for a time before moving to New Mexico. There she started working in galleries in Santa Fe and then working exclusiveley for Larry Bell, a contemporary of Andy Warhol. My mother was lucky enough to have gotten in on the ground floor when it came to collecting art from some of the artists of those years. My mom now lives with us, so I am the beneficiary of some of her beautiful art acquisitions....

In honor of Andy Warhol and Spring, I have Andy Warhol's Screen Print, "Flowers" above my mantel along with the CB2 candlesticks and yellow Protea flowers. I just love those freaky flowers! So this was my modern take on Spring....colorful, minimal, fun.

After putting together this modern mantel, it was fun to put together something completely different. Because of the picture molding on the wall above my mantle, it has been challenging to find art or mirrors that are the right size and shape to fit. After doing a search around the house for a bit the other day, I remembered a small Suzani I had bought for my daughter's bedroom when she was younger. It fit the bill for something different and unexpected. 

I have seen Suzani pillows and Suzani throws and Suzani bedspreads. And perhaps the Suzani train has left the station, but I thought why not try it as art for a seasonal change up? I attached it to the picture molding as a wall hanging and then added a large pitcher filled with Bridal Veil. It turns out the effect was very romantic, especially after I added the antique mercury glass vases and my beloved tramp art box.

Putting these mementos together pulled at my heart strings a little bit. But then, that is what a memento is for, no? I do have an affection for old things, but I like the new as well. I think there is always a way to bring things together as long as they are interesting and tell a story.

Suzani Hanging, Tramp Art Box and Vintage Pitcher with Bridal Veil Flowers

Vintage Mercury Glass Vases on a Stack of Books

In this instance, I pulled things from all over the house that I already had. I cut flowers from the yard and filled a large pitcher with them. Then it was just a matter of moving things around until it felt right.

There you go. A couple of very different ways to go for a Spring Mantel!

So here a few design tips for styling a mantle (in no particular order):

  • Don't buy things just to fill space. Find things that are unique and have some meaning for you. 
  • Play with balance and scale to fill the space.
  • Use books to raise up things that need more height to balance the composition.
  • Start a collection. A group of similar objects can make for a powerful display.
  • Use things you already have. Hunt for things you might not have considered using before.
  • Find things from the, branches, greenery. 
  • Mix it up: New, Old, Playful, Serious, Expensive, long as there is a story, it can be beautiful!
  • Have fun, because this should a pleasure, not a chore! :)

For lots more Spring Mantle Inspiration head on over to these lovely blogs because they are also presenting Spring Mantels Two Ways: