Mantle makeover in a minute’s time

Every season, I get an irrepressible itch to make over my mantel to give it a fresh new look. No matter whether you’ve got just a few seconds, or you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and go to town, here are four fun summer mantel treatments.

One-minute makeover

You don’t need to rearrange your entire mantel to give it some seasonal spark when you call on the power of a few good floral picks. When creating your timeless mantel display, include a beautiful vase to hold seasonal greens. Then, at the start of each season, simply swap out the floral picks, and you’re done. Try flowering forsythias for spring, gerbera daisies for summer, bittersweet for fall and holly for winter.

Sweet and simple

Beautiful but uncomplicated, here’s a presto-chango mantel makeover that will scream summer. First, find a piece of seasonal artwork, like a vintage botanical, and lean it next to the artwork above your mantel, overlapping the corner just a bit. Be sure your top layer of art is a different size than the one over your mantel to create more visual interest.

Now put a round ivy topiary or potted fern on the opposite side of your mantel. If you want to dress up the look just a bit, instead of a potted plant, try an apothecary jar filled with faux seasonal fruit, like lemons or limes. Or put some pebbles in the bottom of the apothecary jar and plant it with a faux fern.

Luscious layers

If you want a mantel look with a bit more pizzazz, just add a few more layers to your quick-fix look above. Prop an amazing tray, preferably decorated with a summer motif of birds or flowers, next to your seasonal art, overlapping it slightly.

On the opposite side of the mantel, display two more objects with the topiary you already have there. How about a tall candlestick with a moss ball or bird’s nest perched on top? Or put a bird’s nest, potted plant or bird figurine on a riser, and cover it with a glass cloche. For a fun surprise, have a bird figurine peeking out from around the base of one of your pieces.

When picking, make sure the items you display are different heights so your still life has lots of movement and eye-appeal. When building a layered display, I like to work with an odd number of pieces, sometimes arranging them in the shape of a triangle, with the tallest piece in the center and a small and medium-sized piece on each side. You can also arrange the pieces in the shape of the letter V, with two taller pieces on each side and a smaller piece between them.

Showstopping display

If you want to build a truly memorable mantel display, load up on the drama. One of the best ways I’ve found is to include a surprising mix of rustic and refined pieces.

Place a 2-foot-tall weathered garden statue, like a cherub, on one side of your mantel. Then, tuck an even taller circle- or globe-shaped topiary behind the outside shoulder of the statue. Finally, find a garden pot with a wonderful aged patina, top it with a bird’s nest, and put it on the inside corner of the statue.

On the other side of the mantel, prop a formal silver tray on its side to serve as a shimmering backdrop. Then find two ornate silver candelabra in different heights to display in front of the silver tray. Put the larger of the two on the outside edge of the mantel and the smaller one on the inside. Now add the finishing touches. Top the outside arms of the candlesticks with candles, but on the inside arms, put a moss ball or bird’s nest where the candle should be.

No matter what your schedule or decorating expertise, it’s easy to create a mantel that heralds the season and serves as a beautiful focal point for your entire home.

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