Thrifted Mantel Styling


This is part two of copying catalog styling with thrifted items – see part one here.

In the last few years (thanks to Pinterest and the lovely blogs I read) I’ve enjoyed changing out our mantel for the seasons. I use the same steps in mantel styling that I do for shelves – find an inspiration photo, identify the feel and the elements and then shop the house and thrift stores, if needed.

Sometimes I add to the mantel as I find things, like the fall mantel pictured above. I hadn’t transformed the pumpkin when I first decorated and wrote about our fall mantel in September and after adding that shinier element, I decided to switch out the original darker pewter plate for the lighter pewter tray. I also had wanted to bring more white in as well, so when I found the sweet little cream pitcher on the far left and plunked some snowberries in it, it did the trick of carrying white across the entire mantel.

Like the shelves, I used a fall Pottery Barn catalog photo for mantel inspiration:

PB Mantel

This feel of this mantel is:
  • quiet fall colors (i.e., no orange)
  • an abundant look
  • a contrast of natural, rough elements with shiny, elegant items.
The specific elements I wanted to find were:
  • pewter or tarnished silver
  • wood
  • white
  • lots of natural leaves, pumpkins, and other things from the garden.

Notice I didn’t necessarily want to replicate the look with lanterns or the tall bowl – this is were individual interpretation comes into play.


Here’s how our fall mantel came together:

1. The same $3.99 pewter tray from the shelf styling came to live here on the mantel in order to form the trio of silver pieces in the center.

2. The ceramic pumpkin that was transformed into a mercury glass pumpkin ($1.99) became the centerpiece of the updated mantel.

3. The engraved silver bowl was a thrift find from a few years ago – it’s a little wonky on one side, so it was priced around $2 if I remember correctly – and brings in more of the tarnished silver element. I filled it with a couple of my garden white pumpkins.

4. Candleholders like this are easy to find at thrift stores and sales – and of course spray paint is your friend if you don’t like the original finish. I’ve had this so long I don’t remember what it cost me, but I’ve seen similar holders in the $1.99 – $3.99 range.

5. I do remember this little milk glass vase which was a yard sale find about year ago for a whole .50. It was really dirty and filled with a yucky, sticky candle  but it cleaned up nicely. When thrifting, you have to learn to look past dirt as well as paint.

6. My sweet little embossed white pitcher was cut out of the collage, but you can see it in the full mantel shot and I. Love. It. I happily paid $3.99 for this guy because I just can’t seem to have too many white pitchers. I harvested the white snowberries on a walk with the dog – who was not happy that I was stopping to cut the dumb branches.

7. & 8. Although there are usually a ton of wood items at thrift stores, I wasn’t having much luck with what I was looking for (more of a dough-bowl shape), so I improvised with this little square bowl (.99) and some old barn boards from our shed.

9. I thought this basket (a gift from my mother-in-law) was such a different and interesting shape – and does a great job of adding height, holding more natural elements, and balancing the boards on the other side of the mantel.

After I gathered all these items, it was simply a matter of placing them on the mantel in front of the old window – along with leaves, pumpkins, and cornstalks to get that feeling of abundance that I liked in the inspiration photo. I put more of my own spin on the look by adding the book-page fall banner and book-page-wrapped candle because, well, I kinda like book-page stuff. And they came from thrift stores as well.

So, tell me – do you like to change out your mantels with the seasons? And if so, do you do it more now because of the internet, like me?

31-days of Thrift Store TransformationsThis is day 14 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here. I’m taking a little liberty and using the term “thrift store” to stand for anything you buy used (and cheap!), be it from a store, garage/estate sale, flea market…whatever.

P.S. – Oh, and again, PB doesn’t have a clue who I am or that I’m writing about their stuff – I just like their stuff.


  1. says

    What a wonderful post! I still haven’t decorated my mantel for the Fall. Your post is so inspiring. I love the challenge of finding the majority of the items around my home.
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Carolynn from Bend

  2. says

    Gorgeous arrangement! I don’t have a mantel anymore :( And I don’t spend much time decorating our house…But after seeing all the cute things other bloggers have been doing, I did get out a few Halloween decorations and arranged them on my buffet. I only used things I already had, plus some leaves and gourds from my garden…so it didn’t cost me anything this year. It is a bit orange and not so elegant, but hey, it was free!

    • Jami says

      I think just a table, mantel, or some area that makes you smile when you walk by is great, Lisa! It just depends on what kinda mood I’m in as to how much gets changed out for the seasons. Usually fall/thanksgiving and Christmas are biggies for me. The rest of the year I focus on only the mantel – and then only every few months. You gotta do what works for you. :)

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