Mantel Progress

You guys blew me away with all your insightful comments regarding my mantel dilemma! It’s taken me this long to process all the information from both emails and comments left here- I even had to make a list to keep things straight.

But it was Sarah, a reader who sent me an email, who wins the award for the most detailed advice (and how did she know I was a visual learner?). She took the time to create and send me this idea picture with her suggestions:

And even included an idea board using pictures from my blog, plus paint and finish ideas:

Wow, wow, and wow. Thank you, Sarah!

And of course I knew she pegged me perfectly when she wrote these words, “I’m totally in favor of not having to spend any more money.”

When I looked at my list of comments there were some that really resonated with me and provided “Ah-ah” moments, like:

  • there’s no focal point
  • it needs more height, or varying heights
  • the mirror is really too small
  • a black framed mirror would look great
  • too busy
  • the lanterns were “cabin-ish” -which totally made me think, yes, that‘s why they were off to me…nothing’s wrong with cabins, just not the look I am going for. *smile*

With these observations helping to clarify my thoughts, I’ve taken a stab at re-working the whole mantel wall (I’m not sure if I mentioned how hard I’ve found it to deal with this huge wall that really acts like fifteen-foot-long mantel…). Only using what I have (for now!), this is what it looks like today:

When I saw Sarah’s visual manipulation of this space, the thing that popped out the most was how she had items at the outer edges (on the shelves) go from high to low that really helps lead the eye to the focal point, which is now firmly on the center of the mantel with the addition of the paintings next to the mirror.

I love how this make sense of this space to me- finally! After I figured out the items that would work and placed them high to low, it immediately felt right and I’d even say, calming, to me. Which made me realize you all were right about it being too busy.

I’ve decided I’m with those of you who felt a large black rectangle mirror would work really well here, and I’m on the lookout for something I can work with, probably a thrift store mirror that I paint (I’ll move this mirror I love to another spot that we still will be able to see from the living room). In the meantime, moving the paintings to the center with the mirror helps to create a larger focal point, I think.

And I decided on a “less is more” philosophy on the mantel, eliminating everything but a black and green book (to tie in the colors), a small mercury glass vase (to tie in the mercury glass on the sides), and bringing a pitcher with dried branches in from another room for added height.

I’m sure this will continue to evolve, but I did take the lanterns back (in the end, they just weren’t me) and I would love to see some lacy black sconces with crystals to the sides of the future black mirror (over the shelves).

Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful input into this matter- though little, it really brightens my day to see a mantel I like!


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





  1. says

    I am amazed at the before and after. This new arrangement is so pleasing to look at. When I first saw it I got a huge smile, and said to myself (ok, maybe out loud) “That’s it”.
    I like how you placed the dark books beside the light painting and the light vase beside the dark painting. You created a nice balance and I nice flow for the eyes.
    I am sure you will enjoy looking at this when the end of the day is here and you just need to relax. Very nicely done.

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