Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's Time to Simplify My Mantel

Kathy's Mantel

While we were down in Florida we went to my Aunt Kathy's house on Christmas Day. I thought her mantelpiece looked so pretty and simple. My sister and I both zeroed in on it. It really caught my eye, the way she had styled it for Christmas in such an understated way. "Understated" is not one of my tricks for holiday decorating, usually. More about that below. But here's the whole thing.

Kathy's Mantel

Sorry about the not-so-great picture I took (I can't take a straight photo, probably because my face is crooked, or so the dentist said), but I thought this arrangement was so elegant. Like taking a breath of fresh air. For one thing, I love the juxtaposition of the red and green decorations and her beach photographs in their rustic frames. The three brass candlesticks are great, and the two chunkier ones on the other side are a nice contrast in scale. The row of little votives makes a nice rhythm for your eye to follow. Then the little Santa is the perfect touch. And that's all it needs! I really admire this.

From where I sit, I can see that I have 23 separate, individual objects on my mantel. Stop the insanity. Here's a snapshot I took of mine, back in mid-December sometime.

I know. Interiors by Sanford and Son. And this was BEFORE I added the Tord Boontje paper snowflake garland. This year my scheme was to leave everything I normally have on the mantel up there and just add the Christmas stuff. I told myself this was artful layering, but it was actually a hot mess.

And most of this is still sitting there. Tonight, though, I'm going to take the ornaments off the Christmas tree--come on, it's normal to leave your tree up to honor Dr. King, RIGHT?--and then I'll pack away the xmas stuff up there. I'm looking forward to stripping some of the layers off. It's hard to decorate that space, though, because the business and irregularity of the stacked stone means that small or delicate things just get lost. That's why I've been going with the little white Federal mirror, the white clipper ship, and the white faux bois candle holders. I don't know, I might change it all up. Lord knows I have enough different stuff to have a rotating exhibition up there.

Anyway, I was looking through my Christmas pics and wanted to share those. I saw Kathy's fireplace and thought, "Yes!"

17 comments:

Michele said...

I like simple. I say that because when I go for the cluttered shabby chic thing all it looks like is garage sale table. So basically, everything shabby and nothing chic. Right now I have 5 things on my mantel. Very un-fussy.

Amy said...

Kathy's house is very uncluttered in general, which I really admire. And aspire to. Not there yet!

And I must confess that I thought your mantel was a little busy this year. I say this in sisterly love. But I love that clipper ship! And the horse painting. But yeah, there was a lot goin' on up there.

Post some after pics, will ya?

poz said...

If they just moved Epiphany to MLK day it would be a whole lot easier.

Becky said...

Poz, yes exactly.

Amy, the sisterly thing would have been to intervene!

Amy said...

Sorry! It was just a passing observation. And since we were only there a couple days, there wasn't time! And I had something in my eye. Um, look over there!

Sara said...

Horse painting! :) You cropped it out?!

Actually my mantel is back down to one item: a horse painting. Next to the horse painting on the wall.

Jill said...

I've been reading your blog awhile and just wanted to say hi, and thanks. I really enjoy your writing--Suburban Matron is one of my favorite stops!

Becky said...

Jill! Thanks so much for reading! And for commenting, I love knowing who I'm talking to, you know?

Sara, horsey horse horse! Here's a post that had the horse picture in it:

http://www.suburbanmatron.com/2008/09/around-house-marimekko-wall-hangings.html

It's not a painting, it's fabric. You probably need it in your life.

The Dental Maven said...

Unless Architectural Digest is coming over for a photo shoot, I wouldn't worry about it. It's all good.

Bren said...

1. Kathy does not have children in the house any longer. I think that's when we all "simplify".
2. Have you considered a collection of ceramic roses and coordinating rose paintings?

Sara said...

ooooh! I came back to tell you about the most recent cover of Traditional Home magazine. What? Ya, I got it for free for attending a home show. My sister and I call it House You'll Never Own Magazine. Anywho, besides the whites and greys which I am LOVING!, the oval picture over the mantel is so rad: it's like a portrait of a TRex skeleton w/ a feather in its fearsome teeth. Seriously, it's rad.

So I came back to tell you that, and then Bam! Bren has this totally incredible idea about the ceramic roses. I think all your readers should pitch in and send you ceramic roses from all over. So magical!

Becky said...

Oh Sara, so magical how I'm gonna open up a can on you! Don't start with me, girl!

Roses indeed. Not that I don't love actual roses.

And I haven't seen that issue of Trad Home, sounds great! I used to get that magazine but I let it lapse.

Sara said...

lol! Every time I think of those porcelain roses I get that fingernails on a blackboard feeling.
Traditional Home was extra ridiculous this time, what with their commissioned wall sculptures of butterflies made from soda cans.(it was neat but disturbing. very Hitchcock's The Birds)

I'm tappin' out! No whoopass, no whoopass!

Amy said...

Girl, can I say that I love that you've got all your PERSONAL out there on display! But maybe spread it around a little, hmmyeah. Mayhap you could theme it generally with cylinders (candles etc) and circles (plates/mirrors), to juxtapose against the stacked-rock chimney (which I *love*)? Small groupings are easy on the eye...

Cos I'm like SUCH the decorator. Bwahahaha.

Ginny Marie said...

I went over to see the horse, and I LOVE IT! I really wish I had a mantel to decorate. Our fireplace is made from ugly, huge stones which are too uneven for a mantel.

Becky said...

Amy, that's a great idea about grouping things together. I'm going to work on it and will post after pics!

Ginny, all those fabric panels (I linked to the website in that post) are so fun as decorations and easy to do. They come as kits.

Jenni said...

My mantel is mostly pictures of family and the kids, but here's the problem - it gets crapped up with things I'm putting out of the children's reach - Play Doh (only for mom-monitored play because of the baby); kid used tissues when my pockets get too full; my coffee mug; the camera; a plate w/peanut butter toast (no PB for MW yet) cards (b-day christmas, etc.); a CD; a DVD; a pen. If I could get all the junk off it, it would be quite simple. Maybe i will take a before picture and then clean it and post an after. To ride on your glorious coattails.