My waffle: fireplace mantel

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I’ve made a lot of changes to my house over the past three years, but the fireplace mantel has remained vacant. I’ve hung my kids’ art on the wall and used the mantel as a place to display holiday cards or the occasional vase of fresh flowers, but it’s usually a big old blank. Unfortunately, it’s right off the front hall, so the nothingness over the mantel hits you immediately.

Living room

I’ve been searching for a great piece of art to hang there, but finding something that I love (that’s also not too expensive) has been difficult. So last week I finally decided to create a temporary fix. I dug some framed photographs out of the basement, located an unhung mirror from our previous house, and made some paper flowers to put in a vase I received for my last birthday. I was feeling pretty good about my almost-no-cost display.

Then came the waffling. I would like something interesting and aesthetically pleasing, but not fussy or “over-designed” (you know, like a Pottery Barn stylist broke into my house and arranged the display). Here are four options I came up with.

First is the more minimalist look: our old mirror which I painted white, a lovely vase by Annie Hancock and some paper poppies I made from a flower kit.

mantel display, mirror, vase, paper flowers, furniture arrangement, mantel, furniture dilemma

For the next option I added two black and white pictures — on the left, a picture of my mother when she was in her twenties and on the right a picture of the French novelist, Colette.

Mantel display, mantel arrangement, black and white pictures, mirror, vase, Colette, furniture dilemma

The only thing I did differently with the next look is lean some dried starfish against the mirror and picture of my mother. Fun or weird? Hmmm…

mantel display, mantel arrangement, dried starfish, furniture dilemma

Finally, I added a small family picture and placed a long, purple tray in front of it. On the right I placed the three dried starfish in a silver tray.

mantel display, mantel arrangement, photos on the mantel, mirror on the mantel, vase on the mantel,

Here’s how the first option looks from more of a distance:

mantel display, furniture arrangement, mantel, mirror, paper flowers,

Option two from a distance:

mantel display

Option three:

mantel display, mantel arrangement, mantel display, mantel arrangement, photos on the mantel, mirror on the mantel, vase on the mantel,

And option four from a distance:

mantel display, mantel arrangement, photos on the mantel, mirror on the mantel, vase on the mantel,

Which mantel display do YOU like the best? It’s only temporary, until I find a piece of art I love, though with me that could take a while…Click on one of the circles and the hit vote at the bottom of the poll.

Are you waffling about how to display something? Can’t decide what color to paint your bathroom? Click on the button below to send me a waffle and get help.

6 responses

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog! I like options 3 or 4 as well. If it were up to me, I think I’d go with #3, but use the tray under the starfish if room allowed.

  2. I picked option 3 for short term, I thought that from a distance, option 4 was too symmetrical in the way it climbed up toward the center then back down.

    I think this should just be for short term, because that mirror is just way too small to be the focal point of the mantel. I would do a painting that fills up the space between the sconces in width and max out the height, and incorporate some great colors going on in the two rooms.

    • Totally agree about this being a short term fix. I just haven’t been able to find a painting I love that’s the right size…though I have found lots of smaller ones. Maybe 2 or 3 by the same artist next to each other? Hmmm.

  3. Love them all, but my favorite is with the star fish in the dish. Good luck!

  4. Paint that mirror a bright bold color! Like orange or teal!