Mantel Dilemma!

Usually I’m pretty sure of what direction I want to go when it comes to decorating. However, I am having a bit of a dilemma when it comes to re-decorating my living room mantel!

To give you the back story, until recently I had a tall topiary in a black tole container on each side, and then next to those, a pair of antique candlesticks. I’ve always loved my topiaries but I wasn’t loving the black containers anymore. I bought them years ago and at that time, I had more black accessories in the room and they really worked. So at first, I thought I would just look for two vintage urns or something more interesting to put the topiaries in. I haven’t had any luck with that and now I’m unsure about keeping them at all.

For one, I was thinking maybe they are a little dated, and secondly, I already have topiaries in the dining room which is right next to the living area. I’m not sure I should have them in both rooms. Since I wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go, I’ve been scouring all my Pins on Pinterest to look back and see the mantels that have spoken to me the most. Much to my surprise, many of my favorite rooms have very empty (or very layered) mantels. There seems to be not much in between!

This amazing house in Milieu last year has absolutely nothing on the mantel!


Simple candlesticks only over this fireplace. Of course, the gorgeous mantel more than makes up for that!


Only one small box on this mantel. Seems slightly bare.

Candlesticks again here.
I love the ones above, but a few that have absolutely nothing on the mantel, I just don’t think I can go there. For one, my house doesn’t have the gorgeous architecture some of these places do and for that reason, they can get away with it a little more.
On the other hand, I’m kind of into not having too much anymore. In the past, I had more on the mantel and I’m loving the idea of having a “cleaner” look now.
Here Charles Faudree does an amazing job layering, but for me, it’s just a little too busy.


This one is pretty but I must admit, I like a little more symmetry. The balance is just a little off here for me, as lovely as the room is. 
A little busy here, though it is balanced with height on either end. 


It’s a little like Goldilocks! Not too much, and not too little. It has to be just right!

I like this and it has topiaries! (Maybe I’m not too dated if I keep them?)


Brooke Giannetti here also uses topiaries! And I love the idea of sconces to add some interest.


Now this is an interesting mantel. Not symmetrical which I usually don’t love, but it is balanced in it’s non-symmetry. The sconces help with that (love them!)


Simple but gorgeous. I could just line up a collection of vases, or trophies or the like and call it a day. (Apparently I need sconces though!)


This is definitely up my alley! Very French with the antique trumeau mirror and some antique candlesticks and then another little urn type thing. Love this.


Sconces again!!


I do love when symmetry is used with the sconces and then the smaller “filler” items in the middle are not matching. In this case, a small painting on one side and some green moss balls on the other. This is kind of a perfect balance between too full and too empty!
This is a limited view of my living room but you can see the one side where my black tole urns are holding the topiaries, with my antique candlesticks next to them.
Now I just need to find some sconces and either a new urn for the topiaries or some new taller candlesticks for the far sides. I love the height a tall item adds to the ends so that’s a definite for me. I’ve got some hunting to do! (Especially since I’ve now taken down the topiaries for the time being so it’s really feeling empty!) I will keep you posted…..

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  1. Thank you Des and Mary Ann – your compliments are so sweet! Still struggling but I will carry on! I did already remove the tole planters (as I said) and the black iron fireplace screen (again, just too much black for me at this point).

    I will post again when I've finished it! (Hopefully before the holidays!!)


  2. I like symmetry too…especially on the sides and then something a little off like a painting in the center. You have such a pretty mantel…you can have fun playing with it!

  3. Your mantel is really pretty….I love it paired with the brick. I have always loved Joann's mantle. Maybe you could do your own version of that? Can't wait to see what you come up with.
    Have a great weekend!!!