Fall is my favorite season; and I love decorating for Fall almost as much as I love decorating for Christmas! For the first time ever, I actually have a fireplace mantel to decorate. This makes me so happy! I’m not the best interior decorator in the world, but I have fun doing it.
So how does one go about creating a Fall mantel masterpiece?
Just keep three simple rules in mind and have fun making something you love.
1. Set a theme that fits you and your house.
Before you begin decorating your mantel, ask yourself: “what do I want it to ‘say.’ what look am I going for?” Do you want something minimal and bold or would you prefer ornate and fancy? Do you want to say, “Bring on the Holidays!,” “Reap the Harvest,” or “Here comes the cooler weather?” Having a direction to go will set the mood and help you choose pieces to accomplish that.
Then decide whether you want to decorate your mantel with the existing color scheme of your room decor (more difficult to find pieces, but very doable with some creativity,) or whether you will embrace the colors of Fall and create a mantel piece set apart from the rest of the room.
You can see that I’ve chosen to embrace the colors of Fall. Although there’s not much cohesion in the living room decor yet, the mantel does go with the reds and golds that I do have. I also wanted a feeling of “Fall’s abundance,” so I didn’t want anything too minimal, but I didn’t want anything too fussy and overdone either. Using lots of natural elements like nuts, seeds, flowers, and a fireplace log, I think I found a nice balance that is still “full to the brim” with the richness of Fall.
So what do you want your mantel to say?
2. Balanced does not mean symmetrical.
The human brain likes symmetry. Studies have shown that the faces we find more attractive are more symmetrical, for example. So it’s very natural that when we begin decorating, we tend at first to gravitate toward a symmetrical approach.
In decorating, symmetrical can sometimes become boring, and the human eye does also like variation and interest. Better than seeking symmetry with our Fall mantel, we should instead be seeking “balance.” As long as the items on the mantel are balanced, the eye will be happy. The creative people in your life will be particularly happy.
To create balance, you can use items of similar size or shape, same color, the same in number, and you can even use a couple of identical pieces that are just used in different ways. I have two identical hurricane vases, and also 4 identical white candles. The hurricane vases are used in the same way, with the same potpurri, and symmetrically placed on the mantel. However, they are in the middle of very different but balanced groups of items. I shifted the balance of the white candles to use three on one side and one on the other (instead of two and two) to avoid too much symmetry.
Another thing I do to prevent symmetry is having only one sign, the word “home,” with nothing to match or balance it out.
How will you create balance without using symmetry?
3. Keep the eye moving.
Keeping the eye moving is not about having tons of things to look at, or about creating a straight line of items across the mantel for the eye to follow. Instead, having several pieces that draw the eye, that are interesting to look at, will bring interest to the mantel as a whole.
If you were to decorate your mantel simply with four identical candlesticks, they might be very nice candlesticks, and it may not look bad at all. On the other hand, if one of the candlesticks was slightly different, you threw in some old books, a miniature antique globe and some depression glass – well, now you have interesting pieces to be investigated by the eyes. You can accomplish this with varying textures, a variety of colors, different shapes, or individual pieces that are just interesting and beg to be looked at.
On my mantel, I have created visual interest with twigs and leaves that drape off the mantle, a variety of different flowers inside the fall color scheme, a candle with words on it (to encourage the eye to investigate the words,) and collections of things in vases and bowls – each of them slightly different.
You also need to make sure that you have a few pieces that you love – if you do you will always enjoy looking up at the mantel you’ve created. I love my simple “Home” sign. Also, the painting is another thing I love. It has sentimental value and it is always on my mantel.
How will you create visual interest on your mantel?
Putting it all together.
Now it’s time to build your fall mantel. First take stock of what you already have in your house. Do you have a box of Fall decorations? Do you have other decor pieces in your home that would work well with your theme? After taking inventory of what you already have, you may need to shop for some additional pieces. As you do, keep your theme, balance, and visual interest in mind.
The next step is the fun part. Clear your mantel, give it a good cleaning, and then start plugging in pieces here and there. Start with the bigger pieces and fill in with the smaller pieces. Play around with it, moving and tweaking until you are happy. Now stand back and admire your mantel. Does it say what you want it to say? Does it make you smile? Then you’ve succeeded!
Our homes don’t have to be magazine perfect (they probably won’t be.) They don’t have to be the height of fashion either (I can’t keep up with that!) What’s important is not how we decorate our home but how we live in it, right? Decorating is one way that I show that I am “making” our house a home. But it’s certainly not the only or the most important way. So enjoy decorating your mantel and the rest of your house for Fall, but don’t worry if it’s perfect. You could even involve the kids and make it a family affair.
Happy Fall mantel decorating!