Tips for a Beautiful Holiday Mantel

11-16 mantels 2-4

Want to make a big splash for the holidays? Your mantel is a wide open stage just awaiting your creativity. Creating a stunning look on your mantel is a lot easier than you think when you have a little inspiration and know the tricks. Here are a few great looks the Nell Hill’s design team fashioned to spark your holiday decorating fire, plus tips on how to pull off the look:


Magical Magnolias: Organic and Elegant

11-16 mantels 2 - cover

When we design our holiday mantels at Nell Hill’s, we almost always start the creative process by picking a beautiful garland of greens to serve as our muse. This gorgeous magnolia leaf garland is one of my favorites and gave us an elegant backdrop for a nature-inspired mantel treatment, made magical with a sprinkle of shimmer.

11-16 mantels 2-3

Mother Nature is not matchy-matchy, so you find all kinds of colors and textures swirled together in the natural world, blending together to create a rich tapestry.  So on our holiday mantels, we took a tip from the great outdoors and pulled together a wide variety of greens.  Instead of positioning the garland over the top and sides of the mantel, we secured the rope of greens to the front, letting the ends hang down loosely. Then, we embellished both sides of the garland swag with a variety of picks and baubles:  lime velvet ribbon, iced berries and pine branches, glittering fern fronds and shining mercury glass tree ornaments.

11-16 mantels 3

To keep our display secure, we inserted a few mortar screws right where the wall connects to the mantel, one on the left and one on the right. We then secured sturdy wire to the screws and wound the wire around the base of the garland. Use wire or plastic zip ties to cinch the ornaments in place. Many floral picks have long enough stems that you can poke them down into the garland and wind the stems around so they don’t fall out.

11-16 mantels 2-2

We left the top of the mantel open so we could add a few accents. A hurricane lamp takes center stage, flanked by a pair of floral arrangements. We echoed the finishes and colors of the decorated garland in our matching bouquets, filling the mercury glass vases with an eclectic mix of frosted pine branches, artichokes, tulips, gilded pinecones and more.


Pretty in Pearls: A Dash of Dazzle

11-16 mantels 1

Playful and fun, this spunky drama-queen of a mantel takes a traditional holiday look to a whole new level. We started the display with a basic evergreen garland, pre-lit with retro-style white lights. One benefit of a simpler garland is it allows you to go in a million different directions with your colors and accents.  We opted for a palette of pink and green, giving the season’s traditional red and green a preppy makeover.

11-16 mantels 1-3

The structure of this mantel display is also a simple swag with embellished corners. Once we secured the garland to the wall, as described above, we started loading it up with sparkling picks, pink and green ribbon, and strand after strand of glorious pearls. But these aren’t your grandma’s pearls! To make this traditional look seem so fresh and fun, we combined layer after layer of pearl strands, mixing together a wide array of sizes. Then, we let the strands loop willy-nilly about, so they didn’t appear staged and fixey.

11-16 mantels 1-2

Each corner of the swag is knotted with folds of ribbon, which serve as hubs for the sprays of picks, like these decadent gold berries. I love the added touch of the vintage-look pink ornament garland, which is strung on a velvet ribbon. We knotted it up so it looks like clusters of ornaments.

11-16 mantels 2-6

After we’d completed the basic design of the mantel treatment, we just couldn’t resist adding a few more trinkets, like this vintage looking glass Santa and bell ornaments. Love!


Put a Ring on It

11-16 mantels 5

Your mantel display doesn’t have to include garland and lots and lots of layers. It can be as simple as hanging a beautiful wreath over a piece of existing artwork. We took this lush faux pine wreath to the next level by adding in some berry picks and ribbon.


Winter Bouquet: Fresh and Fun


11-23 1

This is another one of those cheater mantel displays – it looks way more complicated and fancy than it is. When you break it down, you’ll see it would be really simple to recreate on your own mantel. Step one: Fill a tall vase with a wintery mix of greens, embellished how you like with an assortment of picks, like berries and garland. Step two: Create matching mini versions of the center bouquet to place on each side of the mantel. Make sure the small and large bouquets are a bit different, but use enough of the same materials they flow together. Done!


Next Week … When we create holiday displays, we always start with our two essentials: ribbons and greens. I’ll show you how to use these tools to make your decor stunning.