I know from the posts I've been enjoying on Instagram lately that many of us have trouble letting go of the holidays. I often keep my Christmas tree up until the kids return to school in January. This year that didn't happen, only because every single needle fell off the tree. The needles were randomly showering down like gentle rain drops falling for a few days before I finally admitted defeat and removed the decorations.
I think it's the spirit of Christmas that I want to hang onto. Even amidst the (many!) preparations leading up to Christmas, there's a kind of peacefulness that doesn't surround us at any other time of year, don't you think? My compromise on the decor this year goes like this - while the tree is gone, I will continue to enjoy twinkle lights on the staircase, the silver glitter tree in our newly renovated foyer and my brand new fireplace mantel, decked out for the holidays. At least for another week or so. (But string lights can stay up all winter, no?)
Of all the gifts I received this year, our new diy fireplace mantel is my stand-out favourite. We have been in our home for 9 years, and the electric fireplace was here in our family room when we moved in. While I have enjoyed the heat and glow of the fireplace, I have always thought it looked forlorn without a proper mantel. Each year around October I'd say to my husband, "I really want a mantel to decorate for Christmas." We'd look online and in stores for options. We even asked for the advice of a friend who installs mantels. But with mdf mantels priced at over $400, we could never bring ourselves to take the plunge.
When I worked with Metrie on the interior finishings for our foyer makeover, I gave some thought to how the same French Curves mouldings could be used to construct a fireplace mantel. And then I told my husband the good news - he would be the lucky "carpenter" who would craft the mantel! And he would have less than 2 weeks to do it! Because I wasn't going another Christmas without a mantel to decorate. Fortunately he likes a decorated home (almost) as much as I do.
He drew a design on paper and then made adjustments as he went along. The cornerstone of the mantel was to be two beautiful 6-inch Metrie Ikons/rosettes, like the 4-inch Ikons we used for the open doorways in the foyer. Along the top of the fireplace mantel, in between the two rosettes, we used Metrie's French Curves Scene II poplar architrave. Underneath the architrave we used a piece of chair rail left over from the foyer renovation. For the legs of the mantel, my husband chose to use some of the leftover French Curves door casing. He turned it backwards because there are some interesting vertical lines on the back to give the mantel legs some texture. He also used casing (turned the right way) for the "feet."
He also purchased a few pieces of inexpensive wood to create a boxed effect, and we bought a pine board to act as the mantel shelf. We found a cute decorative floral piece at Home Depot to accent the middle of the architrave, for around $6.
To paint the fireplace mantel, we used the Benjamin Moore Simply White paint we had used for all the trim in the foyer. I decided it would be fun to stain the mantel shelf in a wood tone rather than painting it white to match. We used a few Minwax wood finishing cloths to wipe on a stain. I had received a package of them (in chestnut colour) at Blogpodium. My husband was a bit hesitant to create a two-toned mantel but I assured him we could paint over the stain if he didn't like it.
Once we got the gold-framed mirror put back up and the holiday decor on the mantel, he liked the overall effect. And we can still change it in future. (Pink mantel shelf for Valentine's Day anyone? Hehe.) Because of the gold-framed mirror, I decided to decorate the mantel for Christmas with my vintage brass candle holders. I also chose an amber glass vase and filled a clear hurricane vase with pine cones and nuts. I bought a gold glitter candle and a couple of glittery reindeer for a festive touch. I filled a clear vase with stones, fresh cranberries, water and a floating candle. I placed a few pine cones and other pieces I had left from a potpourri mix around the shelf. I hung a white wooden tree we got years ago from IKEA over the mirror. Finally, I hung my diy dried orange and lemon garland from last year from the mantel shelf.
I think you can see why this would be my favourite Christmas gift - I've been wanting a mantel for so long and it was so nice of my husband to make this for me in the busy days leading up to Christmas. He was painting the mantel on December 23rd and we had an open house party on December 24th! (That's in addition to tidying up the overflow mess we had in other rooms after our foyer makeover.) I decorated the mantel on the morning of Christmas Eve. That could be part of the reason why I'm determined to keep my holiday decor on the mantel for a week more at least.
Ace certainly enjoys the fireplace. Then again, he didn't much mind it before! What was your favourite Christmas gift? Do you have a fireplace mantel? How do you decorate it for the holidays?
*Thank you to Metrie for providing materials for our diy fireplace mantel. All opinions are authentic and my own.