Mantel Dilemma

While I’m working on a detailed post about how we retrofitted our cabinets for our over-the-range microwave, I thought I’d ask for your feedback on our mantel.

I saw a picture of a mantel with a pair of wonderful black lanterns (in PB catalog? on a blog? I can’t remember…) and thought something like that would be perfect to bring some black onto the mantel to coordinate with the shelves on either side.

I found these at HomeGoods a few weeks ago:

What do you think? I’m not sure about them (notice I haven’t removed the tags even though it’s been a few weeks…). I thought the trellis pattern looked so cute in the store but at home it just seems like too much- too much black and too busy. Brian and our daughter like them, but I don’t really trust them (I always wonder if they say they like something just so I’ll stop talking about it ;-), so I thought I’d ask the decorator-type folks who read here for some input. Pretty please?

They’d probably look OK if the mirror were black, but I like that the mirror echoes the background of the side shelves:

You can see here the other black pieces I have on the shelves (and the HUGE black fireplace insert, but we’re just gonna pretend that’s not there, OK?), but for some reason I’m finding I don’t like the lanterns. I think it’s just too harsh.

A few days ago I pulled these 15-year-old hurricanes out of storage to sell or give to a thrift store. I haven’t wanted to use them because of the gold rims for quite some time.

Now I’m thinking maybe these would look good on the mantel, but what to do about the gold rims- paint them silver or black? Bring in some black with candles that have script writing or music on them like I’ve seen on some blogs?

Any ideas? I’m up for anything, so chime in if you’ve got a suggestion- I’m ready for a change!


This is linked to Frugal Friday @ Shabby Nest, Show & Tell Friday, Frugalicious Friday, and Feathered Nest Friday.





  1. says

    Have you considered hanging the lanterns on the wall on either side of the mirror, like sconces? That’s what came to mind when I saw the straight-on photo of the fireplace. Maybe with some simple black plant hangers and black chain.

    But I don’t consider myself a decorator-type. :) I just do what I like. And I DO like those lanterns!

  2. says

    I like the black lanterns a lot, but I’d probably have one other small back thing in arrangement toward the middle, (not smack in the middle, but slightly off-center), to kind of tie it all together but not overpower with black. And I may try to make it roundish or a different shape than the square-ish lanterns, to soften the black a bit. Of course, once you get it up there you may not like it, but that’s what comes to mind! I always like your choices! =) Vicki in Greece!

  3. says

    WEll, I dont’ know if I consider myself a decorator, I do know what I like though :) :) For me, if I’m not sure about an item, I won’t use it. Those black lamps are very nice, but if you are still unsure of them, I’d see if there’s another place in the house to use them.

    As far as the mantlepiece is concerned, I love it just the way it i s..When I saw the photo that shows the mantlepiece with the side shelves and the “beadboard”(is that what it’s called) in the background..i LOVE it just as it is. It reminds me of vintage cuteness and it is also light 😉 :)

    You could paint the mirror black if you wanted to…but here’s a question..what about painting the lanterns? They are nice. It’s just the color that seems to be in q uestion. That’s just a thought :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  4. says

    I think the issue that you’re having might be scale too. Most of the pieces on the mantel are similar size. I like the idea of hanging them next to the mirror as sconces or you could put one on a stack of books to change the scale.

  5. says

    I have to agree with southbel – the lanterns are too small for the mantel.

    Painting the mirror frame black would make the whole thing pop and I think the pretty mercury glass would stand out against the black more.

    Love the McCoy flowerpot-my favorite color of theirs!!

  6. says

    I like the idea of hanging the lanterns. I like them but I think they’re too small. I think the mantel is missing some height.

    * just found your blog by browsing through a friend of a friends of a friends…hope you don’t mind.

  7. says

    I agree with you. The lanterns are too stark and too busy. I think they might work on the wall as sconces, but even then you’ve got the vertical of the paneling and the diagonals of the lanterns. I like the idea of reusing something you have, such as the hurricane lamps. I would love to see you figure out a way to paint the gold with black, and maybe even etch something clever into the glass (a favorite word/phrase?). And you could pick up the color of the mirror frame/shelving in the candles.

  8. says

    Well you have some interesting suggestions – if you can’t hang them perhaps a couple of small shelves just for the sconces – if they have interest below the lanterns that might add the height and interest some are mentioning.

  9. says

    I’m so excited to read others say what I was thinking! (So NOT a decorator.) They’re too small. Hanging them would be an option, but that would scare me too much to put holes in the wall and then decide against them. I like the idea of putting one on some books to give some variety in height.

    I do love the idea of playing with those glass hurricanes since you were going to get rid of them anyway. I have full faith that you’ll come up with something wonderful!

  10. says

    There is nothing wrong with any one particular item on your mantel. They are all nice pieces.

    The problem is there is no focal point. What do you want to see when you look at your mantel? Your uneasy feeling is caused by not knowing where you are supposed to look. There are too many things to choose from. Therefore, your eyes get confused.

    Decide on what your focal item is and remove everything else from your mantel. Now add the other items back one at a time. Step back and see how you feel. Does that item compliment the focal item or distract from it. Should this new item be moved to another place on the mantel or removed all together. Try this with each item.

    You may find that the items you do not use will make a beautiful display elsewhere in your home.

    Simplicity is very easy on the eyes. Too many items cause confusion.

    I enjoy your blog very much. Have a wonderful day.

  11. Amy @MaisonDecor says

    Here is an idea for you: how about if you had a plain black rectangle mirror, pretty big size, and then you layered your green mirror in the middle of the big black mirror? I think that would pull it all together. Right now the green mirror is on the small side for that big mantle and the black would tie in the stove as well as the lanterns.

  12. Thoughts for the day says

    I like them slowly my decorating ‘look’ is moving to black. Don’t get rid of them if you feel they don’t go on the mantel you can always use them in another cozy spot in a room.
    Of course I hate take anything back so my suggestion would be to keep them and try them out for awhile. They are very nice.

  13. Anonymous says

    I like the idea of painting the mirror black, you would be surprised how great that would look. Also I like the lanterns, but you need something with some height on that mantel, a tall candlestick or a tall birdhouse or something to give it more height, then maybe if there were two lanterns one slightly smaller that the other you could use them side by side. Or use the suggestion of maybe putting one lantern on some books to give height and set them side by side. I just like the idea of having items with a range of height so that your eye doesn’t just waver in one diamention.

  14. says

    Wow! So many ideas for you! I think this is my first time leaving a comment for you. I had another whole idea all together. I agree with those that brought up the scale of the mirror. I think something more substantial needs to be taking center stage. Whether it be a larger mirror…or? I was wondering how it would look to place your two flower paintings side by side (maybe 2 inches apart) hung over the mantel as your items of large proportion. They appear to have the exact same size and frame, and b/c they are both floral pictures, I think it could work! Then I would pare down. I love what you have in between the two lanterns. Just slowly adding those vintage French country cottage things that you have! The black lanters? Though cute, I think they look way too cabin-ish for your room. I would try those on a front porch table with some rocking chairs! Have fun!

  15. Nancy says

    OK, let me give this a shot. I agree with the general opinion that a larger mirror would look good. One that is the same height but twice as long. The trim can be black, dark brown, or even a metallic mix with dark bronze & silvers. Then I would move all of my decorative elements to the ends of the mantle leaving the center bare. The side shelves are busy (but beautiful) and placing your items on the sides complements the side shelves yet deliberately allows the eye to focus on the center area with the mirror as the focal point. What do you think?

  16. says

    Honey, here’s my two cents…you need something tall and skinny on each end. Put the lanterns on something to raise them up, but don’t make it matchy, matchy. I was thinking something like a topiary, or orchids on one side and maybe one of the lanterns on the other side, with a pile of books underneath, or an interesting box.
    What I would do is go shopping in your home and try a bunch of items, experiment and have fun.
    Just looked at the hurricanes. They would fit more with the look you seem to have created. You seem to have a romantic vibe going on, so try them too, raised. And leave the gold alone, unless you hate, hate, hate it, but I always try to not match too much. To my eye, matching is boring.

  17. says

    Hi there~ I do like your lanterns but would have to say I agree with several other posters. Bring in some height, some drama… the mirror is lovely but probably a bit small for the width of the mantle without anything on the sides of it. Also, your shelves on either side are fantastic but it does add the the illusion of a very long space- so I would think a larger mirror or some height on the sides- something to fill the spaces on each side of the mirror would probably help. Lovely room btw- thanks for sharing at FNF! :)

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