Thursday, February 10, 2011

Evolving Mantel, Spelled "-EL"

The English geek in me had to double-check the spelling of "mantel."  Too many hours of looking at postings for "dinning tables," "rot iron," "rod iron," "chester drawers" on Craigslist has corrupted my spelling skills.

And it's "mantel" when we're talking about this:
A mantle (spelled with an LE) has several meanings, all of them referring to some sort of cover: a cloak or cape, the layer of earth between the crust and the core, a particular outgrowth on a mollusk, a layer of bird plummage,  etc.

Got it?  We're talking mantels today, specifically my evolving mantel.

Last fall, I decided the mantel of our hearth room was due for an overhaul.  Here was the cluttered before:
And the after, the first time:
You can read all about it here.  If you recall, I had picked up all the vases at a thrift store with a 30% off entire purchase coupon.  Oh, yeah.
And I spray painted all of them with Krylon in Georgia Clay.  Pretty, cohesive and cheap.  Love that!

Since I was working on this project as the holidays were approaching, I left myself some space for decorations.  Now that the holidays are over, I decided the space was looking a little sparse.  I knew I wanted some greenery up there.  And I also felt like the space needed something dark to anchor it.

I shopped my own house first.  I found this pot in the backroom of the basement.  I'd scored it at a garage sale, but then I couldn't figure out how to use it.  I decided it was the faux stone look that just wasn't working for me.  Nothing a little paint couldn't fix.
I just squirted a little Brunt Umber on a palette with some Glossy Black next to it.  I'd dip my brush into each one and randomly blended the two colors on the pot.  Check it out now on the left:
Being that I am a former English teacher and Mr. Tallgrass is a former history teacher, we have A LOT of old books, either collected or handed down to us.  They are scattered on display throughout our house, but this room didn't have any yet.  There were still plenty in the basement from which I could "shop" for the hearth room.

Of course, I had to put a bird on the mantel.
I call this little fellow my "guilty bird."  Ever walk into a shop with absolutely no intentions of buying anything, you just want to look?  I did that last month and the shopkeeper was so sweet.  We really hit it off and she gave me lots of tips of other independently-owned antique and antique-inspired stores in the area.  I felt badly for not buying anything, so the little bird came home with me.

I wanted a little green on the other side of the mantel, but I'd worked through the house's inventory and couldn't come up with another pot that was dark or could be painted a dark color.  Good thing Goodwill isn't far.  This was just what I needed, and it was only 99 cents.
Last year, I put all my silk flowers and plants in one oversized Rubbermaid tote, and it was one of the smartest things I ever did.  Now, I look there first BEFORE heading to the craft store.  I had this leafy green plant already on hand.  Since Hobby Lobby is next door to the Goodwill (yes, a dangerous combination),  I picked up a bunch of plastic boxwood for one of the vases at 50% off.
My one splurge was the little clock.  We really missed having a clock on the mantel.  I've looked everywhere for a small, vintage clock.  When I would find one, it had been wound too tightly and didn't work anymore, or it needed to be plugged in, or it was more expensive than the one I found at Target that I really liked.  Tar-jay won in the end.
I'll make some coffee, and we'll warm ourselves next to the fire.

I'm linkin' up...
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating Bubbly Nature Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special Its So Very Cheri Savvy Southern Style


  1. Beautiful! I love the colors you've put together. They complement so well. ~Alana~

  2. OK... this is amazing~ I need to try this!!! :) please come link this to our party over here:

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Looking great.
    I put all my fakes up, too, but still grab some every now and then to 'soften' a spot.

  4. I love this last photo! All of your things put together make such a lovely mantel! The medallion/window thingy is wonderful! My mantel was taken down a few years ago during a remodel job (it didn't look right) and we've never replaced it! I miss being able to decorate one! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Great looking mantel and thank goodness I have always spelled it that way. Thanks for linking up.

  6. Great job. I really like all your accessories and that round window is fantastic.

  7. thanks for linking this up, Heather! Love the transformation and how you did everything so inexpensively.
    You cracked me up on the spelling. Argh. Stuff like that drives me nuts too! :) I've seen some interesting ones recently....
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  8. Great job accessorizing! I am also a new follower! Have a great weekend! XO Liz


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