Believe it or not, the 2017 holiday season is almost upon us! No matter if you start your Christmas decorating and shopping in July or wait for the Thanksgiving food coma to wear off, decorating your home for the holidays does not have to be an overwhelming or bank-busting challenge. A few key design elements in the right places can instantly transform your everyday environment into a winter wonderland of holiday cheer.
One of those locations is the fireplace mantle, often referred to the heart of the home. While down here in the South that can often mean sipping hot cocoa Christmas Eve with the air conditioner on rather in front of a roaring fire, most Southern homes still include a fireplace and mantle centered in the main gathering space of the home, making it an ideal focal point to make a big impact with your holiday décor.
Holiday decorations are often a reflection of where we are in our lives and are usually a mix of old and new items, some with great sentimental value. For this article, we wanted to focus our holiday mantle design aesthetics on three general style concepts and incorporate some basic design elements so that no matter what your style or budget may be, you can garner some ideas and apply a few of our tips to make your holiday mantle decorating this year easy, affordable and a statement piece for your home.
The three style concepts that we based our mantle designs on are: a formal traditional style, a modern contemporary style and a causal whimsical style. A few key elements of design we are going to focus on and apply to each of the concepts are: color, shape, texture, scale and harmony. The fun thing to always remember about design is there really is no right or wrong approach! There is absolutely nothing wrong with combining concepts to reflect your personal style. The traditional modern aesthetic is an extremely popular concept right now, so don’t feel that you have to identify with just one of these, or that you can’t pull elements from each to come up with your own concept that reflects your tastes. Our hope is that these examples serve as an inspiration to fuel your creativity and motivate you to boldly express your own style.
Our first concept, the traditional style, is very simply classic elements based on European décor. We all have those comfort foods that are a go to when we need that reminder of better times. Traditional holiday décor can have that same effect, invoking memories of holidays past in our childhood filled with Christmas magic. All elements are based on a predictable, orderly and consistent theme. Colors are very deep hues of greens, reds and golds, and are repeated through fabrics and materials. Natural elements provide the base for this style using dark wood branches and full deep-green foliage, with natural and gilded pinecones balanced throughout. Bold plaid ribbons in large and small scale undulate throughout the greenery and can be strong anchor pieces when made into bows. Ornaments are great opportunities to introduce scale and shapes by using various sizes and silhouettes into the design while still maintaining harmony through color and placement. Ornaments can be special family heirlooms that become wonderful conversation pieces and reminders of those special people or bygone times in our lives.
Our second concept, the modern contemporary style, combines stark clean lines and bold pops of color with softer neutral backgrounds of color and forms. The trick with this style is while key elements of linear shapes and minimalist scale are consistent and rooted in a specific modern design principles developed between the 1920s through the 1950s, the colors are contemporary and often change with the popular trend at the time. For instance, we all remember the mauves and peaches that were the contemporary colors that defined the 1980s and early 90s design trends. Those have been replaced (thankfully) with soft neutral colors of cool whites, warm greys and mixing silver and gold as the base into this style’s contemporary design. Natural elements can still be utilized with flocked branches providing the stark clean lines and light green cedar foliage becomes a bright pop of color and texture. Geometric patterns in fabrics provide focal points that draw the eye and add harmony by using specifically placed ribbon with bright pops of color in the linear shapes against a neutral background. Some traditionalists consider this style very bland and devoid of feeling, especially when compared to the rich colors and deep feelings embedded in the traditional concept, which is why the traditional modern aesthetic has become so popular. It provides a balanced middle ground that still achieves the beautiful clean modern lines and contemporary color palettes but is softened with traditional elements ranging from pops of deep navy to brass finishes and deer antlers.
Our third and last concept, a causal whimsical style, is based on found elements that are crafty, unique, often-handmade items that do not follow a certain trend or style. With the social media boom of websites like Pinterest, this concept has become extremely popular with people who have natural artistic talent or people willing to learn artistic skills to achieve those one-of-a-kind pieces. It is also a great way to make a design statement on a tight budget. This style is especially wonderful for parents of young children who want to display their child’s latest masterpiece from art class or need décor that can stand up to some abuse when those little fingers inevitability grab anything new in sight. Colors are a mixture of bright fun reds, grassy greens, soft whites and even warm greys can be found in the background. Natural elements can be pulled straight from the backyard from indigenous trees and bushes providing unique combinations of texture and color from bark, woodsy branches and varying greenery to incorporate into the design. Layering pattern on pattern is a central theme that plays with shape and scale. Whether you are a Pinterest master or a proud parent, this style has plenty of whimsy and statement pieces that embody the magic of the individual holiday spirit and the place where memories are made.
No matter your style or budget, holiday decorating should be filled with joy, not dread. After all most of us live with these decorations well into the New Year, so finding a style that you love and expresses all the concepts that you enjoy is really the gift that keeps on giving! Happy holidays from our family to yours!