Monday, November 24, 2014

Trimming the Mantel

     Decorating the fireplace mantel for the holidays almost always includes evergreens, stockings, and ornaments.  This year, why not add some fun touches that will liven up your display?  Here are some ideas for pieces to add to the fireplace to make your mantels look fresh.

 *Bring the outdoors in and add a sled, some old wooden skis, or snowshoes to the greenery.  You could attach a hand printed sign to the sled that reads “Let it Snow”.

*Group your silver and mercury glass onto the mantel and add a string of white lights.  Hang a mirror behind to reflect the bling.

*Arrange buildings, trees, and faux snow from Lennox or Dept. 56 across the mantel to form a Christmas village scene.  Add street lights, people, and animals to make the scene come to life.

*Make an arrangement with lanterns or LED candles for a soft glow.

 *Display collections like Santas or tree toppers.  You can utilize small crates or faux wrapped boxes to vary the heights of your pieces.

 *Instead of hanging stockings, try hanging snowflakes, ice skates, or bunting from the edge of the mantel.

 *Hang an ornate framed blackboard over the mantel that can display seasonal quotes like “Baby, it’s cold outside”.  You can also hang Christmas/winter paintings to add color behind whatever vignette you place on the mantel itself.

 *For a more primitive look, add rustic stars, crates, grapevine wreaths, and berries to the scene.  Put evergreens in crocks or baskets.

 *Make big, colorful, wooden blocks with one letter on each that spell out seasonal words like “Believe”, “Joy”, or “Merry Christmas”.

*Hang red or green shutters over the mantel and display your children’s seasonal art on them.  You could also string bunting across the shutters or hang a collection of stars or snowflakes against the slats.

 *Gather a group of “Elves on a Shelf” and make different scenarios like one taking a “bubble bath” made of ornaments or another riding a reindeer.

*Drape a plaid throw under the decorations to add warmth and color.

*Make the centerpiece a large, vintage, child’s rocking horse.

 *Have several family winter pictures made into various sizes of canvas art and display with greenery.

Be sure to keep safety in mind no matter which new look you go for.  Real candles should never be left unattended, and if you use your fireplace, make sure that no decorations hang too close to the heat or fire.  Have some fun and decorate with imagination this holiday season.  Your mantel will soon look merry and bright!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Creating a Cozy Retreat

           As the winter winds start to howl, we automatically turn inward to home and hearth.  It’s time to warm up the interior of your house and get cozy.  Here are some suggestions for making your home a welcoming retreat from the weather.
            Pile on the pillows everywhere, including the floor.  Accent chairs, couches, beds, and ottomans with comfy throws.  Pay attention to different textures and colors for visual variety, and use quilts, nubby wool, and soft knit fabrics.

            Introduce new color tones into your decorating.  Accent tans, oatmeals, and creams with warm reds and oranges.  If you are feeling especially daring, paint an entire wall a dark red.  

It will make the room feel welcoming and cheerful.  Even just adding red accents will warm the space.

            Dress your rooms in layers.  Place area rugs over carpet or in twos and threes for a splash of color and plushness on the floor.  

Take down your sheer summer curtains or valances and add lined drapes on your windows.  Allow them to flow all the way to the floor.
            Light your fireplace for ambiance and warmth.  If you don’t have a built-in fireplace, there are many lovely electric models that can just be plugged in.  You can find mantels in a variety of styles at an antique store for a built-in look.  

Add candles around the room, and use table lamps instead of the harsher overhead room light.  You could also install a dimmer switch for overhead lights if table lamps aren’t an option.

            Strategically group your furniture to foster conversation.  Move your couches and chairs out from the walls into the center of the room or in front of the fireplace.  Keep traffic flow in mind as you arrange; placing a throw rug on the floor in the middle of the furniture will help set a visual boundary for the new setting.

            Don’t forget to pay attention to the scent of your home.  Baking makes us all want to settle in and nest, but you could also place potpourri in bowls around the house, or simmer potpourri on your stove top.  Scented candles will have the same effect. 

            Leave a basket of slippers by the front door for guests.  If you have a variety of sizes on hand, they will be more apt to slip out of wet, messy shoes and sink into comfort as they enter your home.

            Create a nook to curl up in.  A chair placed by a window with a throw, or pillows on a window seat invite your family to stop and daydream.

            In the bedrooms, switch the bedding to winter colors and add down comforters to dream under.  Layer throws and pillows here as well, and keep plush robes handy for chilly mornings. 
            Lastly, for a space to feel cozy, it needs to feel lived in.  Stack books on tables and by chairs.  Display family photos, unique collections, and children’s art.  Keep a sweater or two handy for the coldest days.  A welcoming home doesn’t have to look “magazine perfect”; the idea is to create a space where family and guests will want to linger.  It will only take an hour or two and a few simple changes to convert your home into a cozy nest where you can retreat during the winter months.