Monday, January 10, 2011

A Winter Mantle... Minus the Winter

Christmas is all packed away, but though the Holidays are over, winter remains.
And that means another round of decor updates!

By the time Christmas arrived, I was more than ready to box up the stockings and take down the tree.
(and as of 8:46 a.m. December 26th, that's exactly what had happened!)

I wanted to transition my living room mantle into a nice white-themed, yet warm, winter vignette.
But the winter "blahs" got ahold of me and what do you know, we fast-forwarded right to spring!

So sue me. 
Here we go:

Other than the tree, my living room mantle holds the most noticable change after Christmas.
And my mantle has always been a bit of a problem child for me. 
It is HUGE. 
It's roughly 15 feet long.  And about 2.5 feet deep.
Basically double a typical mantle.

Here's why:

This is a picture from the model home we looked at when deciding to build our house. 
The mantle covers not only the fireplace, but also the (equal-sized) built-in cubby for the TV.
I know this isn't everyone's style, and that's okay. 
I firmly believe that this entertainment center/fireplace combo saved my marriage from certain death ;), by allowing a somewhat decorative solution for housing an obnoxiously large TV.

I had suggested putting the big screen in the [unfinished] basement, and making it a "man cave".
I got the biggest and fastest "YouGottaBeKiddingMe - IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON!" look and lecture from Mr. V.  It was at that precise moment I learned the true meaning of "pick your battles".

So, long story short, we have a giant mantle.  :)

This [awful] picture was taken just about a week after we moved in 3 years ago. 

Please note that the actual size of the news reporter on the TV is the actual size of the reporter.

It's well made, and I do love a rich wood grain, so it's not a terrible thing.  It's just challenging to decorate at times.  And those 3 square windows, while I love them,
sometimes make it impossible to create any visual depth.

I started with these branches I found on clearance at Pier 1.  Witch Hazel, I think? 

Whatever, for $0.98 each I really didn't care what they were.
I liked the branches, and the fact that they were bendable yet realistic was a plus.
I didn't love the severe gold color, but I didn't hate it.

My original plan was to spray the branches a nice winter white, and add them to a birch 'sleeve' I picked up at Pottery Barn a few years ago. 
Long story short, that didn't really work out.
So I tried the branches as-is, but I wasn't feeling the color of those blooms.
I just yanked 'em off.
:::sigh of relief:::

That's more like it.
A lot more "winter" than before, but by leaving the buds,
I was left feeling a little more inspired for spring.
So I went with it.

I moved a few of my paperwhite bulbs to a glass hurricane and placed it next to another hurricane with birch logs, to help balance the wood elements from the other end of the gargantuan mantle.

A few scattered pinecones throughout still keep things in transition for winter.

I wrapped the bottoms of a couple neutral candles in jute to give the center of the mantle some height.

I kept my frames up because we are ridiculously good-looking.

On the other side, I propped up a glass cloche on a couple thrift store books and filled it with green apples to give things a pop of color and bring out the green buds on the branches.

I think I'm on the right track with the branches, but they definitely need some "oompf" to fill things out a little.
In fact, like me, this entire mantle is still quite a work in progress. 
It needs more depth (again, because it's giant) - a couple more layers, and some texture.
And maybe the birch isn't the right vessel for the branches?  It might need something slimmer.
But overall, I'm pleased.

And besides, when have I ever been one to leave well enough alone?



  1. Looking good - what is it about men and their big tvs and thinking they belong in the tv room - LOL :)
    I can see some mirrors or a clock or art work in a trio series something on those walls between the windows to give you some depth - also love the cloche!

  2. We have the exact same fireplace/entertainment center (gotta love suburbia) and I never know what to do with it!!! It is so ginormous that everything ends up looking teeny-tiny. Currently I've got lots of 8x10 family pics arranged in groups of 2-3. I like what you did...I'll have to get inspired and add some fun stuff myself. Hmm, like that will really happen with a newborn coming in the next five weeks ;)

  3. I think the space next to the fireplace for the TV is a neat least a compromising idea. I shudder to think of one OVER the fireplace! I love your mantel...the branches add that nice rustic look and the family pictures are right at home in those pretty frames. Nicely done, Emily!