Fall is here and it’s time to celebrate this glorious season in your décor. One of the easiest – and most powerful – places you can trick up for autumn is your fireplace mantel. Depending upon how much time or creative energy you want to invest, you can use this little plank of wood to make a big fall statement or just a whispered tribute to this beautiful season. Ready to get your creative juices flowing? We created three sensational mantel displays at Nell Hill’s to inspire you.
Before my Fall Open House, a few years back, I was rushing around in a frenzy trying to get everything ready before I opened my doors to thousands of visitors. Usually Dan scrams when I have my open houses because my photo finishes send him up the stress chart. But this year, he offered to help. I sent him to the farmer’s market to buy some good gourds to use in displays. He zipped off like he knew exactly what he was doing. But soon I got a call from him, his voice perplexed. “What makes a good gourd?” Poor man! Once again, he was left to try and read my mind.
When it comes to gourds for fall decorating, they’re all good, in my book. I like to build displays with crazy colors and shapes. And I also adore looks like the one above, using just one color and shape of gourd to create a soothing scene.
No matter what shape, size or color of gourd you pick for your mantel display, you’ll need some risers to give your display a variety of visual heights and finishes. We started ours with one of my favorite tricks: perching a gourd on top of a candlestick. This time, we used beautiful etched mercury glass pillar candlesticks, but any candlestick will do. We were going for symmetry on this mantel, so we stationed one on each side. To give the space in between some movement, we added a second riser, another one of our use-it-a-million-ways tools at Nell Hill’s: a capital. Putting a bigger gourd on top of the small capital gave us the undulating lines we needed to make this simple scene captivating.
A Flash of Glass and Foliage
I blogged a few weeks ago about how much I love to decorate with glass pieces. Here’s another example of how simple glass vases can make a mantel look regal. We framed our display with these ornate but not ostentatious gold candlesticks that have a vintage feel. Gold is back in a big way, and I’m so glad because it is a perfect pick to pair with the warm colors of fall.
We used a tight color palette of shades of gold and white on this mantel. The interest comes in the variety of shapes and sizes of our glass pieces, which range from big vases to tiny votive cups to candy dishes. An old book is an excellent riser on a fall mantel, lending a drop of charm. Plus, it’s a great way to use some of those books wedged into all your bookcases. I often incorporate figurines into my mantel displays because they bring a little unexpected surprise to viewers. One of my favorites for fall? Birds.
The show stealers in this display are the two brilliant bouquets of fall foliage. The key to making your fall greens look wonderful is to spend a few minutes working with them. The picks are flat when they come out of the package, so it’s necessary to gently pull out all the branches, twisting them a bit, pointing them up and down and out, just as they would grow in nature. Can you believe how real these picks look? All that’s missing are the bugs!
Time to Celebrate the Season
At Nell Hill’s, we like to create displays that tell a story or evoke a mood. This one conjures up feelings of nostalgia for me. We added hints of back-to-school images, like the blackboard used as artwork and the clock, which resembles the one I stared at for hours on end when I was a kid, willing it to fast forward to the end of the school day. The wire votive holders, aged corbel turned on end and stacks of capitals add to the vintage charm of the arrangement.
Have you ever thought about using an old clock in your fall decorating? I just love to work in these large-faced wall clocks because they are so intriguing. In Halloween displays, I poise the hands at just a few minutes before the stroke of midnight. For this mantel, the clock seems to symbolize the passing of the year, a gentle reminder to seize the day.
A favorite fall decorating tool at Nell Hill’s is antique wooden dough bowls. Often we place these long, hollowed out troughs at the center of rectangular dining tables, on hutches or over bookcases, filled with fall gourds and foliage. Now we have this petite size – just the right width to use on a mantel. Doesn’t it look lovely holding a few gourds?
Next Week … Fall decorating continues as I share some tips on creating autumn displays on your occasional tables.
Ramon Valdez saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 8:44 am
I love the way you do mantels, I was dazzled by the way yours looked this past weekend at our open house, simple yet dramatic and elegant.
It was an honor to have a little chat with you by your front door, now counting down the days for the holiday open house, I wrote a blog about my vicit to Atchison this past weekend if anyone wants to see pictures of the beautifuly decorated house Mrs Garrity calls Home!!!!!
Veronica Patterson saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 9:19 am
I was so fortunate to attend your lovely fall open house. Despite the heat, you were able to make it feel like Fall. What a beautiful inviting home you have. I left with so many ideas and I am on my quest for the perfect pumpkins for the orbes I purchased. What a great idea. I noticed first thing when I walked in how wonderful your home smelled – so festive. I love the Fall Foliage Pickwick candle. I am so excited for your holiday open house. I can’t wait!!! Thank you again for your gracious hospitality.
jean waldrop saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm
Love the mantles, and your tray arrangements are beautiful. I was not joking when I asked friends if they wanted to go to your open house – everyone was ready until I told them to pack their bags – we are from Georgia- so I am waiting for photos of your fall open house.
Vicki Sinkler saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm
How much is your petite dough bowl and dimensions, please. Do you ship?
linda scearce saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm
could you please show some pictures of your fall open house to those of us who live too far away to attend (Virginia) thanks
Carol Greene saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Oh please, let those of us who live too far away (Arizona) to come to the open house see some photos. But, I will be there for the November open house and can’t wait to see what you do this year!
Carol Greene saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm
Oh please, let those of us who live too far away (Arizona) to come to the fall open house see some photos. But, I will be there for the November open house and can’t wait to see what you do this year!
Mary Carol saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm
Thanks so much for your kind comments, everyone! We had a sizzling good time celebrating fall this year, and it was all because of wonderful friends like you guys! I’ll be posting a photo album of my fall open house on my Facebook page tomorrow, so come and have a look. If you haven’t already “liked” our Nell Hill’s page, just search for it on Facebook under Nell Hill’s. We post photos every day of the great stuff happening at Nell Hill’s – I hope you’ll come “like” the page and join in the fun.
Joy Schumann saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm
Lovely mantles…all beautiful. Is there any way to purchase a petite dough bowl or a couple of the capitals? Please answer by email or visit my blog and leave a comment. I would so appreciate it!
Diana Beggs saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm
Do you still have the wonderful orbs and the dough bowls? I have purchased numerous dough bowls a few years ago for my interior design business. I would love to get more of these beautiful dough bowls, large and small. Thanks!
Franki saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm
Your ideas and photos are just wonderful! I luv EVERY ONE of them!! franki
Alice Davidson saysSeptember 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm
Loved these ideas. So simple and elegant.
Diane BaileyASID saysSeptember 10, 2013 at 9:17 am
Wonderful.. It is so good to see fall back and all of the warm colors….we just have to “make believe ” here in Arizona, and this is the way to do it.. Love it….. Diane
Lori Lockwood saysSeptember 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm
Thank you for wonderful ideas, I’m so sad that summer is ending, (my favorite season) but you’ve now got me looking forward to fall. Again, thank you for the inspiration
Mary Carol saysSeptember 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm
I know many of you love our wooden dough bowls — I do to! We have them in all shapes and sizes, and our inventory is constantly changing. So, my recommendation is to call us at 877-746-4320 and let us know what size you’re looking for and we’ll let you know if we have one in. Enjoy!
Sherry Cat saysSeptember 17, 2013 at 10:42 pm
You are such an inspiration! Even though we don’t have a mantel, several of your decorating hints work for the end tables or a shelf on the wall. And using books in displays just seems cozy and relaxing. We won’t be setting lamps or vases atop Kindels- right!! It’s a silly thought and at the same time just a reminder why we need our homes to wrap us in beauty and warmth, just as your weekly letter does visually. Thanks for that . Your column is like a treasured friend stopping by, its restorative and always welcome.
vicki chick saysSeptember 28, 2013 at 11:10 am
Beautiful beautiful mantels. I enjoyed the article in The Villages, Florida Daily Sun Paper. After seeing that, I looked you up on the internet.
I do have a question about something I saw in one of the pictures that does not have anything to do with decorating. I have the same picture and have been trying to obtain information on it for many years and have been unsuccessful up to this point. I am hoping you may be able to shed some light on this for me. In the very first picture on this page, there is a woman sitting holding a child with another child next to her. Do you know anything about this picture. During two different floods in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s there was major flooding in Maine. When the boats came to save my great grandmother, this picture was the only thing she saved each time. I would appreciate any help so I may be able to look into its value and possibly insure it.
Linda saysNovember 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm
Vicki Chick…that painting is a reproduction Raphael depicting Mary, Jesus and St John the Baptist.
Mary Carol, is this picture for sale? Love your gorgeous mantels!
Rohit saysJanuary 14, 2014 at 5:53 am
beautiful mantels. I would like to see more
Stone & Stucco saysJanuary 20, 2014 at 7:49 am
Fireplace in the room is really inspiring with unconventional approach. I liked the ideas put in the blog.