MANTELS in a Holiday Mood
Old House Journal|November - December 2021
Pretty things from nature are always in style.
Tovah Martin

WINTER BY THE SEA This is another of the five fireplaces in Clineff’s home. Floral designer Sandra Sigman noted remnants of blue paint on the original paneling and built a coastal vignette on a bright-blue mantel recently added. She layered seashells, bleached fern, seeded eucalyptus, chamaecyparis, and smilax. She placed a globe thistle wreath above: “There’s so much here, we didn’t need a bow.”

In vintage houses, especially, the mantel begs to be adorned with something festive and creative. Professional holiday decorators find inspiration in the room. No need to start from scratch; it is valid to incorporate elements that sit upon the mantelshelf all year—in fact, they give continuity to the festivities and keep it personal. Then, playoff hues and motifs in the wallpaper or rugs. If the room is already “busy” with pattern, focus on greenery only, or on a single minimalist theme. On the other hand, if the room is subdued in quiet colors, take the opportunity to add a pop of red, blue, gold, or silver. For bling, vintage ornaments shine, as do objects in silver and brass.

You’re not restricted to decorating only the shelf. Roping, garlands, beadwork, and strung cranberries may be swagged. If balance requires adding height, include a wreath, a platter, tall topiaries, or candlesticks with tapers. Other than incorporating nature, few rules apply. Even in a sparely decorated home, this time of year calls for a moment of exuberance.

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