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How can I decorate my mantle?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
We have a gas fireplace in our home with a rather LARGE mantle over top of it. The surface of the Mantle is about 3 feet off the ground, about 2.5 feet deep and about 4 feet wide. The fireplace is in a corner, so 2 of the sides of the mantle have a wall behind them.

Right now, it is a very large hot spot (even when the fireplace is not in use) for collecting all kinds of random junk. (toys, pictures, papers, Wii games, CDs, etc.)

I can clean it off and organize everything that's on there, and find everything that is isn't supposed to be there a new permanent home in the house. But if I stopped there (as I have done in the past), then the mantle would just start to collect things again! It's like a giant magnet for clutter.

What I've done in my hallway (where I have a similar, but much smaller shelf) is placed a vase with some silk flowers, a picture of my children, and a visually pleasing glass thermometer. So far, having "beautified" this space, it is MUCH easier (and more meaningful) to clean off this space purposefully to make sure that nothing else gets put there that doesn't belong, and that it still looks beautiful.

I want to do the same sort of thing over my fireplace mantle, but I am at a loss for WHAT to put there. I don't want to clutter it up with a whole bunch of little things (like picture), I've tried that in the past and the pictures just look cluttered and don't really ward off the other junk that wants to be placed there.

I only want to put a few items there that really work, look great, and don't take a lot of time to fix up when they are disturbed (by cats or by children). I don't want a whole bunch of little things because that never worked for me in the past.

Does anyone have any bright ideas?

ETA: Here's a couple pictures of the cluttered space, as it sits today:
http://www.luiselee.com/images/fireplace1.jpg
http://www.luiselee.com/images/fireplace2.jpg
post #2 of 22
if you make it a "nature table" sort of spot, then perhaps it won't be used as a clutter space?

that's what i'm discovering here. my husband *loves* to use it as a drop spot. i have to keep it "decorated" or it becomes a place for piles. he loves piles.
post #3 of 22
Hmm maybe a really long candle holder? Something on this idea but obviously suited to your taste:
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/...500_AA300_.jpg or
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/...500_AA300_.jpg

I like the idea of candles (fire) on a fireplace mantle... TJ Maxx usually has some cool stuff like that.

Or you could do something in a set of 3 or 5... like 5 similar large glass vases, or 3 black sculptures, something on that idea.

I also know a lot of people put a TV over the fireplace, wouldn't be my thing but it would avoid the clutter!

Or, you could find some kind of nice bins/covered baskets/etc. to place there to contain & beautify the clutter
post #4 of 22
I just did my fireplace mantle on the cheap using ideas I got from some craft blogs. I know you said no pictures, but a neat thing I did was I bought 6 dollar store frames, and then printed letters from the computer onto different patterned scrapbook paper. So you would choose a word that means something to like, "FAMILY" or "BLESSED" or "DREAM." Print each letter onto the scrapbook paper and slip one letter into each frame. I should just link to a picture! Because there are so many frames, it fills the space well. And I don't think it looks cluttered at all. I then put a vase at one end and a topiary at the other and voila! I'm going to see if I can link up a picture


Ok, here's a picture of my mantle, it's on snapfish so I hope you can see it: http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/sl...NAME=snapfish/
post #5 of 22
Heather, that is really cute!
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post
Heather, that is really cute!
Thanks! I got sucked in by craft blogs a few weeks ago and did my whole living room in one weekend. Super thrifty too! That frame project cost me about $8 And the topiary on the end is handcrafted by me, courtesy of the Dollar Tree
post #7 of 22
I just redid the one in my family room. The hard part is finding what is the right scale for items. At first I had things that were just too small. You have to find ones large enough to stand on their own.

A few common ideas are:

1. Center large frame (photo or mirror) with smaller side items. Much like the link above. Cute and personalized.

2. Either 3 or 5 similar items (vases, statues, candles, etc) spaced evenly. The problem is finding the right size.

3. Candles. Easy, common. You can have a garlandy thing around them that changes with the season. I used to have 5 large candle holders - 3 large with 2 small in between. All the same except for size. I could add garland for different holidays and it worked without moving a bunch of stuff.

I now have 5 vases that work together because their heights are staggered (sp???) as well as the colors. But it took me about a month of moving different combos up there and living with it to decide.
post #8 of 22
These are generally smaller mantles, but there are a ton of great pics here:
http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.co...ur-mantel.html

That's one of my fav decorating blogs. She gathers a ton of great ideas and does a lot of DIY, recycling/repurposing.
post #9 of 22
also, just one piece--like a dynamic piece of drift wood--could make it dramatic. it really depends upon yoru space.
post #10 of 22
How about cabinets with doors?
If you found something you liked, it could then house all the items you mentioned, and there'd probably be space on either side for candles or baskets or something pretty that you love.

Another idea was an aquarium but I wasn't sure if you'd want to go there lol

A large mirror or stained glass window (backlit)

Books. lamps

Do you have a photo of it? That would help I think
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunshineafterrain View Post
How about cabinets with doors?
If you found something you liked, it could then house all the items you mentioned, and there'd probably be space on either side for candles or baskets or something pretty that you love.

Another idea was an aquarium but I wasn't sure if you'd want to go there lol

A large mirror or stained glass window (backlit)

Books. lamps

Do you have a photo of it? That would help I think
We do have an aquarium that would fit there... but if we ever planned to fix the fireplace and start using it, that wouldn't be a very good place to put a fish tank, unless I was hungry for boiled goldfish...

I can try taking a picture... It'll be cluttered though, as I haven't tackled the mess yet until I know where I'm going with it. I guess the biggest thing I'm struggling with is the size of it...

I'll see if I can post a pic in a minute.

ETA: Here's a couple pictures of the cluttered space, as it sits today:
http://www.luiselee.com/images/fireplace1.jpg
http://www.luiselee.com/images/fireplace2.jpg
post #12 of 22
Thanks for the photos- I was picturing a brick fireplace kitty-cornered, nothing even close to what you have!

I think a nice tall cabinet with crown molding, with mirror or tall, thin print or decorative painting on the skinny side- maybe painted black or white

or a lighted glass curio cabinet style to hold some treasures

or baskets on the mantle itself for the clutter; and wall-mounted crown molding style shelves going up to hold *a few* books. plants, candles

That *is* a tricky set-up especially being at counter height but I am sure it will look Amazing once you figured it out!

Good luck!!
post #13 of 22
Oh that's not at all what I was picturing either!!

I think a big tall sculpture... and maybe curtains hanging from above that would just touch the mantle? Or maybe a big mirror on the big wall -- I feel like it needs something to give it height. Cabinets are a good idea too...
post #14 of 22
That isn't what I was picturing either! I can see how you use it to collect things. I would totally use that like a table! If you have small things like candles or pictures, I can see how they would just get pushed aside to set stuff there. I think you need something to give it height, like a vertical mirror or piece of art, and then something substantial like a sculpture or bowl that will take up a good portion of it so you aren't tempted to "use" it!
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace and Granola View Post
That isn't what I was picturing either! I can see how you use it to collect things. I would totally use that like a table! If you have small things like candles or pictures, I can see how they would just get pushed aside to set stuff there. I think you need something to give it height, like a vertical mirror or piece of art, and then something substantial like a sculpture or bowl that will take up a good portion of it so you aren't tempted to "use" it!
Yes, you make an excellent point and that's exactly what happens! Things get pushed aside so that I can place something there.

I need something heavy and substantial -- something that can't get pushed to one side to make space for the "junk".

I Like the curtains idea... perhaps I don't need to stop putting junk there -- I just need to hide it from sight
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I did a search and found this yesterday when zoebird mentioned drift wood. I love the concept, but I think I need something with a larger base (to take up more of the space of the mantle).

http://www.mimifroufrou.com/scenteds...nese_19thC.jpg

I'm probably going to need more than 1 piece, I think, to really fill up the space adequately.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hmm... I'm inspired now...

I know we pulled out a rather large tree at the cottage last year with some pretty fantastic red roots. I wonder if the roots are still lying on the ground in a pile, or if they were already chopped up and burned by now. That could have made a fantasitic (and cheap!) sculpture.

I'm sure I'll find something that has fallen down in the woods somewhere. I'm going up to the cottage next month, so I'll keep it in mind. It could be a fun project for me to do with the kids over the summer!
post #18 of 22
You could completely cover the whole thing in votive candles. It might look a little church-y though.
post #19 of 22
I like the idea of having candles on there to replicate the theme of the fire below. Also, I like having beautiful items that I love to see on it. I use mine as a display but I can see how yours which is lower can attract "stuff".

Here is a pic of mine:

Mantle

Plus I have a mirror, a beautiful clock, some shells that I picked up on our last vacation to Venezuela and a small treasure box that was a lovely gift.

I guess mine is a treasure display that I can rotate out with other things.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
I guess my only concern with candles is that they are little, and can easily be moved or pushed aside. And I agree, too many of them would look a little "churchy".

I need to find a good sized sculpture (or make one of my own with help from the kids) that I can place there.

I was thinking about maybe getting one of those large vases from iKea, and buying a bunch of those wooden sticks to place in it. That would add some height to the area.

A small tree might work there, but I'm not sure that it would get enough light. And I'd probably just kill it anyway

Anyone have any other ideas that hasn't been mentioned?
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