How to Style a Mantel for the Holidays

If you have a fireplace—working or not—and it has a mantel, you’ve hit the holiday decorating jackpot. A mantel, or mantelpiece (or chimneypiece in England), is by definition a shelf—but it really is so much more. It’s prime real estate in any room: an instant focal point, an opportunity not to be missed.

Often, the architectural style of a mantel (and surrounding millwork) dictates how you decorate it—but not now. From candles and crystal to cherished collectibles, anything goes during the holidays.

Mantel decorating “rules” still apply:

  • Choose a center of attention.
  • Design with odd numbers.
  • Keep scale and balance in mind.
  • Add depth by layering.
  • Stick with your theme.

Following these principles, we styled our own holiday mantel to show you how it’s done. Let us take you through it, step by step.

  • Focus! Center a large mirror or work of art on the mantel and lean it close to the wall. For our spectacular statement piece, we chose our Aged Silver Provincial mirror; it always sets an elegant mood.
  • Go green. Place natural evergreen garland along the length of the mantel, dangling some over the sides for a lush look. Drape greenery on your mirror or artwork, too—for dramatic effect.

  • Add a little color. We chose sprigs of red winterberries.
  • Go glam with a few metal accents. Our lovely Pomegranates (available in gold, brass, or nickel finishes) and ever-popular Song Birds add some shimmer.
  • See the light. Amp up the ambience with candles in hurricanes wrapped in red ribbon. DIY tutorial: A RIBBON RUNS THROUGH IT 
  • Turn on the sparkle! We finished our mantelscape with mini battery-powered LED lights.

 

No mantel? No worries! Try this on any long-ish horizontal surface: a buffet, a console table, or the top of a bookcase or china cabinet.

 


Crafty Ways to Decorate With Ribbon

When it comes to seasonal décor, ribbon is one of the most versatile materials there is. Everyone knows ribbon can transform a gift—even one wrapped in plain brown paper—with a simple twist, knot, or bow. Ribbon can give a tired wreath a festive twirl in seconds. It can dress your dining chairs for dinner. And it can stand in for garland, then top a tree with sparkling finesse. We love ribbon of every stripe, whether wide, wired, plaid, pinked, grosgrain, or velvet.

We unspooled some holiday classics (a pair of tartans and razzle-dazzle reds) to jazz up a couple of our favorite everyday accents. With a snip here, and a snip there, we used ribbon to create holiday statement pieces—and you can, too. Let’s get rolling!

Wrap candleholders with lovely tartan ribbon to give your tabletop or mantel a quick holiday update. We used our simple glass hurricanes, available in three sizes. Cut lengths of ribbon two inches longer than the circumference of the hurricanes. Wrap ribbon around each hurricane, folding over the extra. Secure with double-sided tape. Layer narrow ribbon over wide for added cheer!

Our Oval Link tray is fab as is—perfect for displaying decorative objects, candles, flowers, or for serving up your favorite cocktail. We used narrow, red satin ribbon to add a pretty punch of color. Just weave your ribbon through the links, leaving about two inches to neatly fold over and secure with double-sided tape.

 


Kathy Vigoda has been designing chic spaces for satisfied Ethan Allen clients for six years—but she’s been perfecting her styling skills for more than thirty! Kathy, who works out of our Design Center in Hartsdale, New York, is our latest Design Star! No matter the scale or budget, her projects have a distinctly finished, magazine-worthy look. “I love it any time I can complete a room with all the bells and whistles,” she says. Kathy recently shared with us five design principles that guide her every step of the way toward the “big reveal.”

  1. Think Scale
    Size matters in interior design. Too often people choose things like rugs, lamps, and artwork that are simply too small for a room.
  2. Create Symmetry
    Creating balance in a room can be a bit intuitive. You may not always be able to articulate why it feels right, but if you create symmetry, you won’t go wrong.
  3. Add Texture and Color
    Mix materials whenever possible, and add touches of color that echo a larger element in a room, such as pillows in the same color as the drapes.
  4. Provide Contrast
    This often refers to color, but you can create contrast with texture or shape, too. For example, a room with lots of edges can be softened by a round rug.
  5. Edit. Edit. Edit.
    Kathy’s rule of thumb: before you walk out of a room for the last time, turn around and study it—and then take one piece out!


The stone fireplace inspires a mix of natural textures, including leather upholstery, the Beam Metal Base Coffee Table (with knotty oak top), a faux flower arrangement, and globes made of 100% recycled glass.


Monochromatic does not mean boring! In this brand-new dining room, Kathy introduces several light elements, including upholstered chairs and our Zoe Eight-Light Nickel Chandelier for contrast against the dark table.


Form meets function in this living room arrangement featuring our Landon bench, a “coffee table” scaled to fill the space created by a sectional. An unconventional pairing of dark leather and white legs creates contrast, too.


The furniture placement in this room is all about symmetry: the windows flanking the sofa, the end tables, and the Giselle chairs. Color comes to the fore with deep pink drapes, which Kathy also picked up in the floral arrangement and accent pillow.

This is a classic example of how shape can provide contrast. The room is all angles (the wainscoting, rug, buffet, single wide window), but the all-important Ashcroft dining table provides balance (and drama).

Simple symmetry owns the day in this living room: the three-part Evan coffee table, the end tables with lamps, even the pair of mirrors. Kathy says the client wanted one very large mirror, but she suggested two, and they loved the idea.

 

To see more of Kathy’s design work, click here.

 

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