When it comes to holidays in general, but Christmas specifically, decorating is a high priority. We pay to go on Holiday Strolls to see how beautiful big houses are decorated and we post pictures on Facebook and Instagram to show our decorating prowess. It can put a tremendous amount of pressure a person- even if interior design is their passion, so just imagine how the everyday Joe or Mary feel? I want to share with you some tips and ideas that may help you get through the stress of this feature of the holidays and come out the other side to enjoyment in your home.
The mantle is our focus for today, but you certainly can use some of these ideas in different areas of your home. Christmas time has seriously fixated on the fireplace. It is how Santa brings the presents, it is where the stockings are hung and it is where the family gathers around the fire for Christmas stories and opening presents. The fireplace mantle, at Christmas, can be the heart of the home. Does that put enough pressure on?? I mean this is where SANTA enters our homes to give US presents!!! So what to do with that big blank space?
The first thing I do is find that one piece, it can be an old sentimental family heirloom or a new special item that you want to highlight and use for inspiration. Mine is a bit different for me. I tend to lean towards making a space warm and comfy, like home. Modern metal and glass items do not immediately scream warm and comfy, but my inspiration piece is a metal reindeer posed as if he is about to prance off and find the sleigh. He is around 30 inches high and 14 in inches wide with balls of mirrored glass in his antlers and body with solid silver metal for legs, neck and tail. I found him in Michaels several years ago when I had first themed my living room towards a Parisian feel with grey silver, white and black with purple accents.
So Mr. Modern Reindeer is my focal point. Once you have that then you have something to build off of. I personally love greenery with white lights. Yes you can chuckle- metal and silver with mirrors and green garland with white lights- it doesn’t sound warm and comfy but more like cool and elegant…but it works! I laid the silk pine garland along the mantle that has been wrapped with mini white lights. This gives a good backdrop and fills in the area we are working with. You can choose to lay it along the mantle or swag it from the front. Whatever strikes your fancy!
So we have a large reindeer (focal point) and garland with lights (filler) now what? One of the things I learned as a floral designer is odd numbers are pleasing to the eye. When you create something, try to use items in 3s, 5s or 7s etc. This is not easy for someone like me who likes balance. I have to eat M&M’s two at a time so I can have one on each side of my mouth! But when it comes to decorating odd numbered items work better. AND you can still find a way to balance it out and make it feel even. I decided on going with three items. I have a wintery looking Santa Claus dressed in white faux fur with grey faux fur accents and I have three silver candle sticks that I use throughout the year on my mantle (notice they are THREE candlesticks!).
Now I have my focal point and filler and have added two accents for an uneven number. How to place them? Remember that balance and evenness I mentioned? This is where it comes into play. I set up my tallest items in the middle of the mantle, which happen to be the three candles. I then place the next two smaller items, Santa and the reindeer, on either side of the candles to give a pyramid like pattern. Finally I add bits of silver sparkly twigs to the greenery and hang my stockings. The sparkly bits, silver candlesticks and mirrored pieces in the reindeer all will reflect the lights placed in the garland to add more depth to the mantle. Finally I added some simple glass candles at varying heights, again to give some depth and more interest.
The last piece is to turn on the mini lights, make a cuppa tea and sit down, relax and enjoy the holiday ambiance. Now I realize that I have used specific items that all match to my themed living room. The colors and textures reflect the Parisian accents I already have in place. This is ONE way to decorate. You may want red poinsettias and colored lights or a silver Menorah with blue lights or a crèche with white lights. The colors in your living room clash with your heirloom focal piece. Maybe you want silver and red tinsel like garland with a Santa dressed in purple. This is your home! You need to decorate it from your heart. It doesn’t truly matter what decorating “protocol” is, what matters is that you enjoy and love what you decide to put out. Decorating should add to the happiness of your holiday not be a stressful thing you must do to make other people happy. We can get so caught up in what must be done and gifts we must buy and cards we must write that we sometimes miss the bigger picture. The holidays are about being with those you love and celebrating and enjoying life. So one final tip on decorating your mantle or any other place in your home- as someone once said, You be You and everything will be perfect.
Happy Holidays my friends and remember to always be kind!