3 Quick Tips To Decorate Your Mantel For The Holidays

holiday mantel decorating ideas

We all love it when the fireplace becomes the focal point of our room, and fall is one of the best times to decorate your mantel for the holidays–letting it really shine in all it’s glory.  By using simple design elements, you can turn yours into a beautiful showpiece.  When you apply, even a few, of these quick tips, you can transform your mantel from a jumble of items into an eye-catching collection of perfectly curated pieces.

Tip #1 Repetition, Repetition, Repetition 

Did I mention repetition?  It’s one of the most powerful design elements you can use to make a big impact.  When you use the same pattern, color or texture again and again your look becomes cohesive and complete without appearing too theme oriented.  It lets your eye travel from one end of the mantel to the other and creates a relaxed feeling.

Tip #2 Balance and Proportion 

Balance and proportion, in any space, create a calming, finished look.  Depending on the size of your room, your mantel could be large and grand or it could be small and understated.  Whatever the size, you need to be sure that the items you select are in proportion to each other and to the size of the mantel.  Mix up the sizes and shapes as well.  Besides being boring, too many small items on a large mantel will get lost and end up looking like clutter.

Many of us create balance and proportion by arranging items symmetrically.  You know the technique. The same items on each side of the mantel.  This is typically a very traditional arrangement…and perfectly beautiful.  But imagine for a moment, stepping out of the box a bit and creating something equally beautiful…and asymmetrical…to create balance, proportion, and harmony.  In the photo above, the designer has created two completely different vases, but the sizes and colors are similar.  So we have balance and we have proportion.

Tip #3 Layering Items 

If you prefer a cozy, casual look, layering items of varying sizes creates depth and visual interest.  Place larger items in the back, while featuring smaller accessories up front.  Using decorative boxes or risers to add a mixture of heights also adds to the interest, and ties each item to the others through repetition, balance, and proportion.

Happy Decorating!

Re-Purpose The Pumpkin: Pumpkin Soup

The trick-or-treaters are gone.  The Halloween decorations must come down.  And the pumpkins that were used to light up your doorway have seen better days.  But what can you do with those uncut pumpkins that added beautiful Fall color to your entry?  Re-purpose them, of course, and create a yummy Thai pumpkin soup.

Emeril Lagasse’s Curried Pumpkin Soup


Prep 1-30 minutes ∙ Makes 6-8 ∙ Difficulty Moderate ∙ Source Abcnews.go.com


  • 2 tablespoons ghee (see Note, page 84), clarified butter, or unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 to 3 large cloves)
  • 2 fresh red Thai chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 pounds peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped cooking pumpkin, such as kuri, or butternut squash (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk or coconut cream
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Cooking Directions

Set a 6-quart pressure cooker to the “browning” program and add the ghee, onion, ginger, garlic, chiles, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, and curry powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and the spices are fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the pumpkin, salt, coconut milk, orange juice, brown sugar, and water. Close and lock the lid, and set to “low pressure” for 3 minutes.

Once the cooking is complete, open the pressure release valve and allow the steam to escape. Unlock and carefully open the lid. The pumpkin should be very tender; if it is not, continue to cook under pressure for 1 minute longer. Stir well, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

The soup can be served immediately or refrigerated and gently reheated up to 1 week later. It will thicken upon sitting.

When you are ready to serve the soup, combine the yogurt and lime zest in a small bowl. Serve the soup garnished with a dollop of the lime yogurt and a sprig or sprinkling of cilantro.

This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America.

Fall Decorating Ideas: Repurpose, Re-Use and Add a Little New

fall decorating ideasI love getting ready for fall! I love the colors, the textures, and the aromas of fall. But with summer in the South lasting through September, it’s hard to think about warm and cozy when it’s still hot outside.

And that’s when planning a party pushes the “get going” button! Have you ever noticed how fast an idea is implemented when you’ve got company coming?

For some of us it’s a graduation, a wedding, or a holiday. For others it’s overnight guests or a dinner party. Whatever it is that motivates you, waiting until a few days before, adds a little pressure…and a jolt of adrenaline… to get it done.


But when you wait till “almost the last minute”, the first thing on the list is to shop your closets, pantries, and attic to see if there’s anything around that can be re-purposed and re-used for the occasion.

It’s amazing to see what fall decorating ideas you come up with when you really try!


I call him “Pumpkin Man”!  A favorite purchase from a friend’s craft show many years ago.


I love the salt box house painted on this pumpkin!  The saying that goes along with it is about having peace in your home.  Sometimes it graces our foyer, but this year it’s nestled nicely in the twig chair from the flea market.

Step 2 is to look through magazines and online sources to find decorating ideas that will  get your creativity flowing.

fall decorations fall8 fall7 fall6 fall5

I love that everyday items were used for most of these vignettes.  Hmmm….it might be time to do even more digging around the house for unique display pieces!

Step 3 is for list making. When you have your ideas, and everything spread out in front of you, it’s easy to see what you might need to make it all come together.

Sometimes a walk in the woods is all you need to create the perfect fall decorations. Other times, a trip to the craft store or grocery store will help with the fill-in items to make it special.

Using candy corn to fill the bottom of a vase and placing a candle on top is a quick and easy tip. And, of course, making a trip to purchase orange pumpkins, heirloom pumpkins, and gourds is a must.


I couldn’t resist this beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes! They weren’t on my list, but I soon filled a bag of beauties. Since I’ve planned caprese for dinner, these will be displayed in the center of the tray…just because!


My finished front porch decorations are ready to greet our guests.  But who knows….I still have a few more hours to make some last minute changes.  Maybe a bale of hay and some mums will really help to Get Ready For Fall!!!! What fall decorating ideas do you have?

Made in America: Using Handcrafted Art at Home

Made in America: Using Handcrafted Art at Home

       I’ve always been a proponent of using handcrafted art at home.  I guess it goes back to my days as a quilter, and my love of using everyday objects as art.  Trips to the American Craft Council shows and juried arts festivals are some of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. They always fill my head with ideas of how to use them for clients…and at home.

      This week, our community foundation, here at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, hosted an Artist In Residence.  Matt Hanewald, of Cane Creek Chairworks in West Union, SC, brought his beautiful chairs to keep on display for the week.  He also taught a course on stool-making (my Father’s Day gift to hubby) that actually had more women in the class than men.

Tom at work

As I watched my neighbors oo-ing and ah-ing over these beautiful pieces, it made me aware of other types of handcrafted art we can use in our homes for function and focal points. 

      So let me share some of my favorites with you….

     Asheville folk museum

 Blue Ridge Folk Museum – Asheville, NC


Windsor High Chairs – Matt Hanewald collection

Matt table and bench

Trestle Table with Windsor Chairs and Bench – Matt Hanewald custom project


Windsor Chairs and Counter Stool – Matt Hanewald Collection

Matt chair

Windsor Chair – Matt Hanewald Collection

my blue basket

Handcrafted Basket – personal collection

my large potter

Hand Thrown Raku Vase – personal collection


Art Quilt Wall Hanging


Traditional Quilt Wall Hanging


Handcrafted Hooked Rug

     These are only a few examples of ways to use handcrafted items in your home as art focal points.  It doesn’t need to be “high end” like the ones I’ve shown above.  Expand you creativity to “found art”.  Maybe something you’ve discovered at a flea market or antiques show. 

      When you let the piece stand in it’s own beauty it becomes the center of attention.  Let me ask you….What pieces do you have at home that could become a focal point if you displayed it in a place of honor?

          If you want to learn more ways to help you decorate and design your home, leave your information in the box to the right. 

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