Going Mantle – Decorating tips for the holidays

The mantel is a focal point in your home that allows your creativity to take flight for the holidays (or at any time of the year).  It may not take up as large a footprint as the Christmas tree, but putting together a special décor theme on and around the mantel is always a fun way to embrace the holidays. Here are two takes on how to put together a perfect mantel this season.

Lorna Parcher of Graham & Brooks in Dundas styled her shelf with pieces she felt best represented the store as well as what’s trending for Christmas décor. The shelf incorporates asymmetry and balance. “Not everyone has a mantel so we thought we’d decorate a simple shelf that’s only six inches wide,” she says.  Christmas decorations in the store continue to lean towards a rustic woodland theme in natural wood tones as well as cream, green and white. “We started with an anchor piece which is the antlers on the wall in the middle. That’s the tallest item that acts as a focal point. Then we chose pieces that were taller to go on either side of that but not taller than the antlers. The objects below are of varying heights and are overlapped (repeated) so they feel connected and part of the overall display.” If you have a mirror or artwork that hangs above the mantel, swap it out for a unique piece like the antlers or a wreath. Or go for both and layer a wreath over the top of a mirror.

Kelly Warne of Rock Paper Scissors in Hamilton chooses to create a contemporary vibe for holiday décor, and prefers to use simpler styling with fewer pieces. Her mantel has clean lines on either side and she says while the idea at one time was to “get whatever you could up there” today’s style is moving away from being too cluttered.  Warne and her husband also run themed art workshops, and she says that prints are popular: black and white with simple sayings or holiday lyrics. These could be printed or written on plain white board or barn board. Green is still prominent, “but not too much. If you don’t have a working fireplace, add some birch inside or candles to fill up the inside.”

Warne prefers to decorate in groups of three, five and seven. There are three metal trees, for instance; she says you could group five of something on the other side “to create a balance on your display – not have everything lined up. Let the pieces speak for themselves.” An additional way to incorporate a rustic contemporary theme is by hanging the stockings on railroad spikes, as pictured.

Photo by Rock Paper Scissors

Local Links  

Graham & Brooks, Dundas

Rock Paper Scissors, Hamilton


Booth Interiors, Dundas

The Painted Bench, Hamilton


Vintage Charm, Hamilton


Passion for Living, Ancaster

The Great Canadian Gift Company, Ancaster


Ideas for dressing your mantle this season
Whether you like to replace your mantel decorations each season, use what you’ve already got, or create a mix of new and old items, keep these tips in mind:

No matter the width, you can still create depth by using layers. Use different textures, tones and shapes in varying heights.

Keep it Simple, Santa! When in doubt, go with natural elements. Gather some evergreen branches, pinecones or birch twigs. Natural greenery looks simple and smells simply wonderful.

Handmade Merry
String some popcorn with the kids, allow them to craft chain link garlands you can hang, or write some additional letters to Santa.

The Greener Good
When decorating with garlands, swags and wreaths, choose pine, fir or cedar. These cuttings dry out more slowly than other greenery. If kept cool, they may last several weeks.  Wilt-Pruf is available at some garden centres, which helps the plants to retain moisture.

Photo taken at Graham & Brooks, Dundas

Photo taken at GRAHAM & BROOKS

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