Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mantel Mania: Part One




Okay folks- I hope you're ready for a TON of photos!
First, I'm going to show you a bunch of photos of well-decorated mantels I found while surfing the web. Then, I'm going to show you some photos of some mantels I've had the pleasure of working on over the past couple of years.

Let's get to it, shall we?



These first few photos are for those of you that have very shallow mantels...



My suggestion is to think about all the "skinny" things you can prop up against the wall on your mantel. Starfish, sand dollars, slender vases, unframed prints (just mat them in a variety of different-sized/colored mats and they'll be good to go!), pieces of driftwood, smooth stones, old sheet music (adhered to thin pieces of cardboard for strength), plates, trays, etc. If you're still having trouble, just hang something spectacular on the wall above the mantel to divert most of the attention up there instead. Here are some examples...






If you have enough room for framed prints, you will probably want to get some museum putty to ensure they don't slide off.




Or you could skip decorating the mantel altogether and go crazy on the wall above...



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For those who are working with a whole lotta mantel, you might want to check out what Emily did...



So pretty!

Here's some more extra-long mantel inspiration...



One of my clients had an extra-long mantel dilemma, and although she wanted to, she wasn't allowed to paint the original wood paneled walls above it either...



She really loved the look of painted paneling though, and hoped to create an easier, breezier, coastal feel throughout the room.

So I suggested attaching some strips of wood to the existing paneling, so that they could attach a new sheet of "paintable" paneling (or beadboard) in front of the old paneling.



(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below to see my inspiration drawing)



Since the mantel was soooo long, I thought it might be best to keep it clear in this instance, so that they didn't feel like they had to display a million things both on the mantel and above the mantel. But now that I think of it, a long row of small shells would be pretty too. (Ashley- do you have an "after" pic for us?)



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If your mantel is somewhere in between extra-wide and extra-shallow, you might be inspired by one of the following photos.

I love the idea of a big painting, a couple of wall sconces and just a couple of things on the mantel.



So elegant!

Odd numbers are always good too. One print, one bird, one vase = three great accessories for this particular mantel...



For an old world look, an interesting wall treatment, candles and colorful pottery pieces are the perfect way to accent a chunky, dark-stained, wood mantel...



Here, framed prints are displayed in a zig-zag pattern to create interest above the mantel. It works great while the fresh flowers are alive- but what happens when they die? Something to think about if you like this arrangement of accessories...



Maybe you could use some great-looking "fauxliage"?



Propped prints, and other interesting items reflect the homeowners personality and vinyl wall decals create balance in what would otherwise be an very asymmetrical arrangement...



I'm a big fan of using a round mirror above the rectangular opening of a fireplace...



And unlike a lot of folks, I don't care if a mirror doesn't reflect anything except the ceiling above, or the wall across from it. Mirrors bounce light and create the illusion of depth, so I'm all for using them wherever those things are lacking.

Here's a display that would be fairly easy to replicate if you like the way it looks...



A few matching vases, a small box, and six large, framed prints on the wall above create a nice sense of balance between the visual weight of the fireplace below and the visual weight of the area above.

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For those of you who have a flat screen TV above your mantel, I think keeping the decor to a minimum is best. Sometimes a couple of topiaries are all you need...



(Before)



(After)


Photos: (My Sweet Savannah)

Or, if you don't use your fireplace, you could always move your TV down below...



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Now on to some of my own mantel motivation!

I've consulted a lot of great gals over the past couple of years, and below are some examples of some of the things I've suggested regarding their fireplaces...

A big wood-framed mirror, some lanterns, old books and an array of textural accessories pop in front of paneling painted the same color as their existing paneled walls.

(Move your cursor back and forth over the photo below.)



And adding a chunky, white-painted mantel brings this fireplace down to a more manageable size.

This next mantel was a bit tricky, but because I re-designed cabinet to the left of the fireplace to mimic the shape of the windows on the right side of the fireplace, all it needed was a couple of topiaries, some more candles and a long, low box right above the firebox. By lowering the homeowners beautiful piece of ironwork, the whole display feels more tied together...

(Move your cursor back and forth over the photo below.)



(Notice how creating symmetry on either side of the interesting-shaped fireplace makes it more of a focal point. Before, it was battling with the arch for attention.)

Using a chunkier-framed mirror, instead of the skinny-framed art print helped balance things out and created a bit more depth on this clients fireplace wall...

(Move your cursor back and forth over the photo below.)



This next fireplace had a bunch of possibilities. I suggested cladding it in wood because my client expressed an interest in using it, but they could've just as easily coated the stone in plaster for an equally charming look. A chunky, dark-stained mantel, decked out with three pieces of art and a few candleholders would be the perfect finishing touches...

(Move your cursor back and forth over the photo below.)



In this next photo, you'll see how simply switching the color of the candle holders completely changes the "calm" look of the monochromatic palette to a more "energetic" one...

(Move your cursor back and forth over the photos below.)



It's little things like that that can dictate the mood of your mantel, so think about the vibe you're trying to create and shop for accessories accordingly. For instance, if you want to stick to a monochromatic palette, but are interested in injecting some color, look to the color of your furniture or accent pillows and find a couple of small bowls or vases that coordinate with them...



And if you mantel needs a "boost", maybe you could add corbels underneath...



My next client did exactly what I just described above and covered their brick with white-painted wood...

(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below)



They added a chunkier mantel, and painted the hearth and the area around the firebox.
She sent me this painting to use as inspiration...



...so I used it, and a couple of topiaries, on the mantel. In the end, she decided to use a few different things, and I was so excited when she emailed me her after photos...





(Great job Holly!)

Another one of my clients, Courtney Baker, requested my help with her fireplace too. So among other things, I suggested using some molding on the wall above it to give the wall above the mantel a little more visual impact...

(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below.)



The chunky candleholders, books and starfish look fantastic on the mantel...



(Click on the photo above to read all about the project over at Courtney's blog!)

I suggested something similar when I worked on this living room...

(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below.)



I surrounded the big, flat screen TV with a variety of accessories to make the most of that whole wall, and so that when the large TV is off, there are still enough bits of pretty to look at.

In this next clients room, I also thought some extra molding would help the accessories on the mantel feel more "at home"...

(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below.)



Finally, this clients angled ceiling created a very difficult decorating dilemma on their mantel. So I suggested creating a completely different surround with lumber and plaster- and then showed what using a darker mantel would look like too...

(Move your cursor back and forth over the photo below.)



I used framed photography on the mantel, instead of on the walls around it, to draw the eye towards the fireplace. By decreasing the amount of "distractions" around your mantel, the things you use on it will make more of a statement.

I hope you enjoyed part one of "Mantel Mania"!
I'll be back again with inspiration for those who have corner fireplaces and those with niches above their mantels.

(Yeah, I saved the hardest stuff for last.)

Happy Wednesday,

Layla

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The winner of the $100 Lisa Leonard gift certificate is
Janna of A Steadfast Life



Congratulations Janna!
You can contact Lisa at lisaleonarddesigns@gmail.com to claim your fabulous prize.




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67 comments:

Red Door Home said...

Terrific post full of great mantel options. Mantels are such a focal point in most rooms, yet so many people have a hard time deciding what to do with them.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Layla thanks for all the great mantel ideas. I am trying to figure out our mantel at the cottage we are remodeling right now. The entire wall will have built Ins and we can do whatever we want but, I don't want the tv over the mantel. I love it simple and I'd love to find something at an architectural salvage so it looks like its been there forever. Also, I'd like to use some tile on the surround. I wish you lived in So. Cal sot that you could help me out!

angela walker jewelry said...

Layla! What a great post : ) I love all of the mantels!!! One is prettier than the other!
Health and happiness to you and Kevin!!
Angela
http://angelawalkerjewelry.blogspot.com/

beth kruse custom creations said...

great inspirations. check out my "budget" transformation: http://bethkruse.blogspot.com/2010/02/home-improvement-work-in-progress.html

My Cottage Charm said...

Lovin' the inspiration mantels, I needed some new material for motivation! I'm working on my mantel right now...found some GREAT, HUGE, brass candle holders today...they're not brass anymore thanks to my handy dandy primer and paint! :) Hee hee hee!
Hope you have a GREAT day!! :)

aahadley said...

What a difference swapping out the skinny framed print with the chunky framed mirror made! Lots of great ideas. Thanks!
~anita

Kerry said...

This post makes me happy and sad at the same time. So happy to see all of those beautiful ideas....so very, very sad that my townhouse doesn't have a mantel of its own for me to love and dress up! Sob.

Kristine at The Painted Hive said...

What beautiful mantels. I wish I had one! I actually wanted to leave a comment because I've just become a "Lettered Cottage" follower. I started my own blog this week and must say that part of the inspiration for it definetely came from you! I love your clean, light coastal style.
http://thepaintedhive.blogspot.com.

Valerie said...

This post was super helpful, Layla! I am trying to figure out my mantle. It's 9 feet wide and only 8 inches deep so it's a little challenging. Thanks for taking so much time to put this together.

angela | the painted house said...

Man(tel) Alive! That's a lot of mantels! I do believe you covered it all. :) I always love your move-the-mouse trick on the photos.

Great ideas, Miss Layla!

DustyLu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Old Painted Cottage said...

I think I've gone cross-eyed from all the "presto chango!" I've always loved your before and after ideas, and this is like one great big condensed version all wrapped in one. Bookmarked!

oxox
Jennifer

saraiwithani said...

We have a corner fireplace where the mantle extends all the way back into the corner. I have tried about 100 different looks for that space over the past 5 years and still haven't found anything that I really like. I am SOOOOO excited for Mantel Mania Part 2!!!

Heather@PixieDust said...

wow - that is a lot of good mantle! I really love the photos you can scroll over, they are so fun!

fairfieldhouse said...

Layla,

Thank you for all the inspiration you've provided. I am partial to your portfolio of before and afters. You are so gifted in design.

Deborah

Blessed Mama said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture of the fireplace with the mismatched candlesticks & candles. We can't use our wood burning fireplace because of allergies and we don't have gas (tee hee) so it is a perfect (and oh so stylish) solution for ours. I also didn't know that museum putty existed. I must check it out! Thanks so much!!!

Blessed Mama said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture of the fireplace with the mismatched candlesticks & candles. We can't use our wood burning fireplace because of allergies and we don't have gas (tee hee) so it is a perfect (and oh so stylish) solution for ours. I also didn't know that museum putty existed. I must check it out! Thanks so much!!!

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

You have such a great "eye" for this! I really enjoyed looking at all of the wonderful inspiration photos & examples. Just gorgeous! It inspired me to get out my starfish & try them on my mantle tomm.!
Blessings,
Stacey

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

Thanks for doing this post for us, Layla. It must've taken a lot of work to put up all these photos, but they REALLY help us get great ideas about what to do with our fireplaces!!!

Merritt said...

I have one of those floor to ceiling brownish stone wall fireplaces AND it sits in the corner. Grrr! It's so hard to make it "fit" the rest of the room. Thanks for all this inspiration, it really makes me start to think about some other options. I can't wait to see part 2!

Shawn said...

Hi Layla I love visiting your inspiring blog you have a wonderful talent for design and vision. I will use your ideas for decorating the mantels on my antique buffets. Thanks and keep up the great work!!

Alicia ~ Time Worn Style said...

This post has been really interesting. I tell you what though, you havent met a difficult mantle until you have seen our huge stone one here http://www.time-worn-style.com/blog/2009/09/a-fireplace.html Its a dilemma I've been trying to work out for four years now. i think this post might help!!
alicia

Chris said...

That was SO much fun! Thanks for all the inspiration pictures! Love your work!

Carole said...

Hi Layla. This is my first visit to your blog and I'm just blown away. Your little mouse trick is just so neat! So many great solutions to a really troublesome feature for many people. I'll be sure to visit often now.

millerhomestead said...

Hey, I like a lot of these ideas, but I notice most of them are centered around white painted mantels. My Husband says no to painting our dark stained mantel so it has been a challenge lightening the room with a floor to ceiling "beast" on one wall. So if you find some more pics or have more ideas of what to do with a stained mantel, please post! Thanks!!

Kare@Trublue2 said...

Wow! I'm blown away....what an awesome post!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for including the extra long ones!! As always, you've definitely provided some beautiful inspiration....and I was really in need of some direction with this new Loooong mantel of mine!!

Reese said...

Thanks for all of the great mantle pics. I was able to snag some ideas :)

Tracey said...

Layla...love your springtime mantel...mentioned you in my new blog today, thought I would let you know...thanks for the inspiration always!
7294cottageway.blogspot.com/

Madella's Behind the Scenes said...

Great post Layla! Really great before and after pictures! Thank you for sharing.

Lisa

Olivia said...

Loved 99% of these makeovers, but I can't believe you would take out a wonderful, spanish-style archway and replace it with a standard cupboard. :(

My thoughts... said...

Great ideas! I love your own mantel and the seasonal changes and would really like to do something like that in my home. Can you add a seasonal touch to a mantel while leaving the same large painting up or must you be able to change out the whole look?

Tam said...

Hi Layla-thanks for the inspiration. I just painted my fireplace a few weeks ago, LOVE it. I just can't decide what to do with the mantle. I love the idea of my family pictures on it, but it feels cluttered. I think i'll try to pare it down this weekend. :)

{ L } said...

Hi Layla! I haven't been out on the blogs lately and I return asking a favor, lol. It's my turn to ask for a vote. ;) Yea! I'm excited.

I'm trying to win a party contest and would love your help! Would you go here:

http://thecitycradle.com/party-3-spy-agent

and leave a comment at the end of the article? Your comment will give me a vote. Thanks so much! I appreciate it lots. <3

AND...thank you for the big selection of mantel fun to browse through! The thing I ALWAYS love about your work is the colors you choose to work with...always so calm and soothing.

Anna said...

I like all your mantel inspirations, mine is different from all the ones you have featured, it is a gas fireplace and we do not have a chimney, we have a window above the mantel, so the option of hanging something like a framed print or mirror above is out.
Right now I have candle sconces on each side of the window and just a few simple items on the mantel. One piece of greenery we got recently is a small bonsai tree - it is 'real' green and so far seems low maintenance.

homeinthecountry said...

Thanks Layla - this gives me lots of ideas! (and hope that despite the tv over the mantle, I can have a pretty display, too!)

Sandi and Jason Rodriguez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandi and Jason Rodriguez said...

Great post! I love the inspiration you give, however, are you going to be posting more blogs about mantels? If so, can you include more that are all brick. I have a full brick fireplace without a mantel at the moment because I just cannot seem to decide what to do with it. I cannot even seem to find pictures of a fireplace near what mine looks like and kind of struggling.

Lucy said...

I so needed these posts! I have been struggling with what to do on my mantle, and you have given me a ton of great ideas! Thanks!

Jen Vogt said...

Beautiful ideas, Layla! So much inspiration there. And I love, love, LOVE your spring mantel. It's beautiful :)

As part of your mantel series, could you address those of us who experience lack-of-mantel depression? It's a very serious condition, especially after posts like these :) But seriously...I'd love to create a focal point in my living room like a fireplace/mantel would since we don't have one, as well as have the display options, but can't figure out a way to do it. Any thoughts or suggestions?

lifeisartislife said...

Beautiful mantel ideas! I wish I had a mantel to decorate, but alas, fireplaces just aren't very common in south Florida!

asnipofgoodness said...

you are pretty much amazing!!!! I am sooooo in need of your services!

Cha Cha said...

As normal I am a day late and a dollar short. I just finish my mantel decorating a few day ago. I think your advice would have saved me tons of trial and error. Oh well, I think it turned out okay anyway, feel free to check it out and give me you input, you know in your spare time. Just kidding I really did enjoy this post and will use the info in the future.

Cha Cha

Kristin said...

Layla, I just love all the mantel pictures; what wonderful inspiration! I love your blog too, I have saved so many of your photos in my "inspiration" file!! My mantel is giving me trouble as I'm going for a rustic and beachy kind of feel to my living room, but the red brick fireplace just doesn't seem to fit in. It's deep enough to layer, but when I add to it, it just looks cluttered. I hope you might have some suggestions on what to do with this type of look??? I don't really want to paint it, and don't have the talent or the $$ to do a build around :)) any suggestions??? Or maybe you can find some photos, because I have had no luck!! Thanks for always being such an inspiration!!

40daysof said...

Thanks for all of the great mantle inspiration. There's so much information here, I'm going to have to read it a few times!

Erin said...

Thanks for the ideas! I had asked about what to do with a tv over the mantel. I had almost the exact same grassy plants on my mantel that are in the photo of the stone fireplace/leather sofa room. I moved them, but now I think I'll put them back!

leslie said...

Where can I find those candle lanterns? Love them!

Traci@ Beneath My Heart said...

I love when you do the little cursor thingy!!! Love seeing before and after's instantly! They all looked so much better. :)
Blessings,
Traci

design brew said...

Thanks for all of this inspiration! As a lover of slightly more modern decor I'm drooling over the bird wall decals - genius! I'm going to file that one away for our mantle!

Cottage Dreamers said...

I love all the before and afters.
We're still building and haven't done the fireplace yet, so this gives me a lot of ideas to consider.
☺ Celeste

laurensmom21 said...

wow - I just spent the past couple hours drooling over this post (in between chasing my kids all over the place, lol). AWESOME job with all of these! I am amazed at your design skills (and also your photoshop skills, wowza!) As a beginner in both, I can only hope to be half as good as you! Thanks so much for all the inspiration and eye candy - it's really helpful!

Christy :)

ps. any news on Kevin's deal? Crossing my fingers for him :)

Maya said...

I love the one filled with wood, such a nice natural touch..., a bit ironic too!! Thanks for the image link!!!

ESE said...

I LOVE your blog! Always FULL of inspiration! Question: in the after photo of the 36th photo down (phew! didn't realize there were so many photos till I went back to count!) where did you get that lovely little side table that sits to the side of the armless accent chair?? I would LOVE something like that for my living room!

Claudia said...

Hi,

Love all the mantel pics. Enjoyed looking at them. I just popped a few on my blog this morning of ones that I thought were pretty too. We just painted our fireplace white and working on decorating our mantel this week. I wish you could consult on my room. Lots of good ideas.
Thank you for sharing.
Claudia

Kristi said...

Great photos and ideas!

Our mantel has brick all the way to the ceiling (it's not a tall ceiling). I saw one stone FP in your examples, but we are not into trophy fish or animal heads. Any pics or ideas for the brick? I don't know how/if you can hang artwork on brick?

Janie aka Jane, Juana said...

Yeh, we are planning on re-doing our mantel and got some great ideas from you!

jennifer said...

THank you, thank you for this post! mantels always stump me. what a seriously great resource. you rock.

MrsKBJ said...

Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!! I love the before and after pics you posted!!
Kelly

audreypenrose said...

So beautiful! I have major mantel angst, so I was hoping you had a cure...but alas, nothing like my builder's insanity was pictured.

I have a large arched WINDOW positioned about 9 inches above the mantel and running the full length. What the heck!!??

Dreamy Whites said...

Layla,
You are so amazing. You are an awesome designer. You come up with the greatest ideas. Thank you for providing us with all this information. YOU ARE THE BEST!
Take Care,
Maria

ImagineCozy said...

That was such fun to experience. Thank you for sharing all of your before and afters. I loved all of the interesting ideas for mantels.
-Angela

Tiffany Larson said...

Layla - thank you for all the great mantel ideas! I love how you showed how a few different accessories changed one room. (same room but several different pictures with just a few accessories changed) Would love to see you show that concept on future pots. I would love a similar series on flat screen television placement. We have only one wall in our living room and without a large media cabinet, the television looks lost on the big wall.

Kathy said...

What a great post at the right time I am trying to figure out what to do above the mantel that isn't boring but fresh and different, you gave me so many wonderful ideas, thank you so much for your effort on this one.

Vintage Linen Treasures said...

Wow! Awesome post!
Patricia

sanjeet said...

Great photos and ideas!
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carolyn said...

Layla- Can't tell you what a kick I got at seeing MY mantel in your post. Love it! Thanks so much for your help...you're the best.

Happy Spring-
Carolyn

INSANITY ENJOYED said...

Ive always wanted a mantle and now that we do Im complaining...sort of :) Its a 3-sided fireplace between our family and living room and its that 3rd short sided mantle that Im unsure what to do with. Actually I just posted about the only side i have decorated so Im very excited about your posts to help me with the other side. Have you come across any pictures of decorated 3 sided fireplaces?

Paige said...

Thank you so much for this post! We had our tv hung over our mantel. We didn't really have a choice, our room is so awkward there wasn't anywhere else for it to go and I have been stressing over what to put on the mantle with it. I have way to much stuff up there, and now I know. I will be looking for some neat topiaries. Thank you! Now I just have to figure out what color to paint the ugly brick. . . .