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Mantel Magic | Tips from Local Pros Will Make Your Mantel Sparkle

Photography by Michael Patch

Second only to the Christmas tree, the fireplace mantel presents a prime opportunity to decorate for the winter holidays. From tucking in simple fresh greens to swapping out your standing accessories for some over-the-top holiday decor, your mantel can be an inviting focal point this holiday season. Here, be inspired by local design professionals’ takes on a star-quality holiday mantel.

“For the mantel, I wanted a simple but dramatic look,” says Lia Melder of Reid’s Fine Furnishings. To achieve this, she uses an oversized piece of art—a winter scene from Left Bank Art—to fill most of the space. A personal collection of nutcrackers in all colors and sizes creates contrast against the gray tones in the art and showcases special memories. Fresh winter greens add another festive touch to the look.

Using a mix of materials, Kathy Potts of Decorating Den Interiors has created a natural/ glam look without overdoing either style, she says. “I wanted to create symmetry in a more free-flow style that pulls the eye inward and outward with organic and metal materials,” she says. Tall candleholders and flocked mini trees add height while round platters create a backdrop for mercury glass vases to stand out against the stone of the fireplace. She suggests running lights along the mantel to fill in any negative space, and greenery to complete the look and hide any cords.

Ashley Hilbish and Mady Greer of Curtains, Blinds and Bath say that neutrals for the holidays are hot this year. They embrace it here with oatmeal-colored stockings, books and natural grasses. “We also believe that greens are a neutral and a must-have during the holiday season!” says Greer. They use additional textures like glass, paper and ceramics for more interest, and incorporate only a few touches of color, primarily in the artwork. “Don’t be afraid to mix non-traditional holiday items into your design to create a different feel,” she says. To style, she suggests starting with the largest piece then layering around it. “Since the mantel is a narrow space, it can easily look one dimensional,” she cautions. “You want to create a gradual step or peak effect so that your eye goes up and comes back down to create a pleasing visual look.”

Sarah Girten of Sarah Girten Interiors uses a fresh garland made evergreens, magnolia leaves and cranberries and woven with a strand of wooden beads. A swag of greenery offset on top of the mirror draws the eye up while balancing the stockings hanging below. “I love the idea of Christmas decor spread throughout, which is why we chose the ceramic trees and green bowl for the side cabinets,” she says. She incorporates various textures for a cozy holiday feel. “The plush texture of the stockings and pillows makes you want to cuddle up next to the fire.”

Jackie Barringer of Portobello Road uses salvaged architectural pieces as anchor points for her design. She then brings in those special holiday pieces, like a Santa made by local artist Becky Carney, as well as other vintage ceramics that evoke holiday nostalgia. Then, she suggests bringing the outdoors in with greenery, real or faux. “Real greenery is easy to tuck in after everything is in place, plus they smell heavenly!” she says. “Faux garlands many times make decorating easier.”

Troy Deacon of High Cotton Fine Home Furnishings and Gifts designs this mantel in a sophisticated look with an unexpected touch of whimsy. Silver accessories that work year-round, like this box, pair of urns and collection of birds, are transformed into holiday sparkle when surrounded with greenery. A silver tinsel tree adds height to the arrangement as well as a note of holiday fun.

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