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‘By the Fire–It’s So Delightful’ with Mantels


A mantel like this one, shown in the kitchen of author and designer Bunny Williams, is an inviting and personal haven.

In many parts of the country, sounds of the classic song, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow  might not be met with the enthusiasm Sammy Cahn and Jule Style were hoping for when they penned it in 1946. These past months, the snow has just kept on coming, with inches becoming feet. Boston has more snow than some ski resorts in the West.

But when the lyrics remind us that “the fire is so delightful,” we can indeed put our hands together.


The Rhapsody credenza by a cozy fireplace. Photo: Hooker Furniture

Whether wood, gas or electric, a home hearth gives us special warmth–a place for family and friends to gather to share moments of good cheer, as well as peace and quiet…especially in these days when it just keeps on snowing.


Joan Enger of J. Patryce Design is shown with one of her room designs with a mantle as a focal point. Photo: jpatrycedesign.com


“The mantel serves as a center-point of a home, and you usually design a room around it.” –Joan Enger, J. Patryce Design

Joan Enger’s perspective on mantels rings true. No wonder the words, “hearth and home” are paired together so often!

One of the sources I frequent for decorating inspiration is Bunny Williams’ book “An Affair with a House.” Bunny inspires because she brings the personal to every inch of her house, as shown in the opening photo with her kitchen mantel next to a blazing fire.

Here are a few illustrations of just how personal and charming this tiny piece of real estate in your home can be:


A vintage French décor flavor is used on this mantelscape from the book, “The New French Décor.” Photo credit: Gilles Trillard.


The mantel is a delightful place to display collections and to layer accessories, as shown in this photo mantelscape from the book, “The New French Décor.” Photo credit: Gilles Trillard.

And what works for the mantel can also work for similar spaces on credenzas and tabletops such as these mantel-like console tables from Hooker Furniture’s Melange Collection.


The Fallon Console Table from the Melange Collection offers a mantel-like surface. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


The top of the Semblance Chest beckons you to decorate its mantel-like surface. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Even if you do not have a mantel in your home, you can use a credenza, sofa table or console table as a mantel-like focal point.

Creating Mantel Memory Boxes

In my own home, I have always resisted the scenario of a candlestick on each end of the fireplace mantel. Instead, I often have a changing scene, depending on my mood or the time of year.


Anchoring this mantel display is a miniature chest and a pottery jug from contemporary North Carolina artist Matt Jones. Photo: Lindemeyer Productions.

At the center of this tableau is a small marble bust, a family legacy, along with two other small sculptures, both gifts. Old books always make wonderful decorative items–one of these is a found object. Anchoring the display is a miniature chest and a pottery jug from contemporary North Carolina artist Matt Jones. these different things combine with an eye to scale, texture, color and most importantly, meaning.

Furnishings like this Malawi Tonga Chesterfield Sofa and Amista Club Chair would be at home with such a mantel display.


The Malawi Tonga Chesterfield sofa echoes the mellow tones in the books and pottery of the mantel display. Photo: Hooker Upholstery.

B-Y retro leather chairSpring2014

The Amista Club Chair is just right for a book by the fire. Photo: Bradington-Young Furniture.

Afternoon Tea


A collection of Wedgwood Blue Willow cups and a Gabriele Munter painting create this lovely mantelscape. Photo: Lindemeyer Productions.

For those of us who love tea cups, can we ever have enough? And add to that, fanatics for blue and white china. That combined theme dictates this mantel arrangement, using an inexpensive cake dish to corral some of the cups. Why so many cups? I could not resist when finding this stash of Wedgewood Blue Willow at a second-hand store, and purchased the entire offering.

The painting is a copy of one by German artist Gabriele Munter, who viewed a snowy scene with her “Breakfast with the Birds.” the seated woman is thought to be Gabriele herself–and we are told this painting was done along with five others one day. One bird seems to have “flown in” from the art here–a sculpture from British artist Emily Sutton. The teapot is Royal Copenhagen, as are several of the cups. The big blue vase is an original Pottery Barn purchase, when this now famous retailer had stores in New York which often sold “seconds.”

Lessons here: Have fun with what you have and what you love, and be as whimsical as you like.

Of course, tea lovers would want a romantic place to enjoy their favorite beverage, such as the Ceira Skirted Club Chair with a deluxe seat cushion and a deep teal blue Melange Semblance Accent Table.



Dreaming of Spring


Whether on a mantel or on the console table in the foyer, visions of flowers dance in one’s head when snow covers the ground week upon week. Photo: Lindemeyer Productions.

Two dozen tulips command this arrangement of loved objects. Here is a tiny music box with a rose motif, as well as needlepoints a-blooming. There is also a new book just in from Yale University Press to comfort the soul yearning for fields of flowers:” Of Green Leaf, Bird and Flower,” a balm to nature lovers. The extra large cup and saucer is a pop art piece by artist Mary Rose Young, whose surprising passion is roses everywhere, especially, she says, to brighten mantelpieces and windowsills.

Celebrating the Young at Heart


No need to remind youngsters in the house to pick up their playthings when you set the mood with a toy display on the mantel or on the buffet in the dining room, on a special birthday, for example. Photo: Lindemeyer Productions.


The Pallisade buffet is a staging ground for beloved items. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Every family keeps reminders of childhoods past, including first drawings, lovingly preserved. Dark wood and a silver tray in the center drawer make the Palisade Buffet an ideal staging ground for your beloved things.

 The truck on the mantel is a 1930s Buddy L. It’s under every year’s Christmas tree transporting a “very special present.” Driving is one of ReMinkie’s Memory Bears, crafted from men’s vintage ties. Rita Glosser will create a toy for you from your own ties or other keepsake fabrics, like quilts.

A perfect warming beverage to serve on a cold, snowy day–celebration or not–the world’s best hot chocolate!


Hot chocolate: A favorite for fireside. Photo credit: Lauren Zaser/BuzzFeed.

Sum: Making it more delightful by the fire can kindle your own creativity as you enjoy the warmth of the hearth as well as the tiny but important piece of real estate above it. Have fun!


Romance Your Home…Hollywood Style


This vibrant mix of modern and exotic in Will Smith’s adobe home show how beautifully opposites attract. Credit: Roger Davies, architecturaldigest.com.

This month, romance is in the air and it’s hitting home in silver screen style. With a nod to Hollywood’s Golden Age, the look is dramatic, glam and sexy; rather like the stars strutting red carpet at the just-completed Academy Awards  (think Bradley Cooper, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike) Yet like the movies we see today, designers are rewriting the script on romance and turning the spolight on decor that spans the stylistic spectrum in fresh, intriguing ways. The result? Romantic spaces that go straight to the heart and allow you to romance your home…Hollywood style.

For example, in actor Will Smith’s adobe home, the two-time Oscar nominee and his wife (actress Jada Pinkett Smith) romance their view of the Malibu hills with a global mix of architectural details from the Middle East, Africa, the American Southwest and Asia.


Like the moniker of this songbird/two-time Oscar nominee, Bette Midler’s dressing room is indeed…divine; and the perfect place for a cozy tete-a-tete. Photo credit: William Waldron, architecturaldigest.com.

 In her Manhattan penthouse, Bette Midler’s dressing room conjures images from films about the Roaring Twenties with its glitzy Art Deco mirror and sculptural chairs form a Paris flea market, plus sexy safari stools with flapper dress fringe.


Cher’s always known how to make a splash on-screen and at home–just feast your eyes on her exotic bathroom. Photo credit: Tim Street-Porter, architecturaldigest.com.

Some might say that Cher’s life is one big drama, but it was her role in it Moonstruck that scored her an Academy Award. At home, Cher is no less dramatic in her Indian-inspired bathroom designed by Martin Lawrence-Bullard who describes the look as “very Cleopatra,” especially the tub that’s wrapped in 19th-century stone and holds court in the center of the room. “Push a button, and a gauze curtain embroidered with gold Indian symbols engulfs the tub,” says Lawrence-Bullard. “Cher loves all things exotic, and this room is like one big harem.”


With its clean lines and tailored good looks, Eaton brings to mind mid-century, big screen crooners like Sinatra and Martin that girls swooned for in droves. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

If your idea of romance is less “I Got You Babe” and more Rat Pack cool, cuddle up on the Eaton Sectional loveseat. Its compact size is just right for a cozy evening of stealing kisses while watching old black & white films together.


The Adagio 60-inch Urn Table serves up drama on a grand scale. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

 The Adagio 60-inch Urn Dining Table conjures images of round table negotiations between cigar-smoking movie studio moguls back in the day of Hepburn, Tracy and Stewart. It’s soft, flowing shape and comfy armchairs are also well suited for negotiations of fthe more intimate kind–a late night, candle-lit supper for two.  


While the round Adagio table is your intimate-dinner go-to, this rectangle pedestal table that seats up to 8 or 10 is perfect for glamorous dinner parties. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Having a glamorous. Hollywood-style dinner party? Then the Adagio rectangle pedestal table with scroll motif  is a perfect choice.


What’s in a name? A lot (and then some) when yours is…Rhapsody. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

With its dramatic scale, sexy serpentine lines and plush button-tufting, the Rhapsody Tufted Bed delivers more than a good night’s sleep. It sets the stage for the night of your dreams.


With their shapely silhouettes and shimmery metallic finishes, these bit players can’t help but garner the spotlight. Photo: Hooker Furniture..

Like many a supporting actor/actress has been known to do, accent pieces like this steal the show when tucked in a corner, along a long hallway wall or next to a favorite chair.

The Melange Kenmar Pedestal Table has more curves than a pinup girl plus a faux zinc finish for extra sparkle. The Sanctuary 3-drawer antique mirror and gold thin console has legs up to there and adds a sophisticated sliver of style. And then there’s the Melange Fluted Kidney Desk. Possibly the sexiest desk alive, its lanky legs and curved kidney shpe make penning romantic notes to dashing suitors so Garbo-worthy.

Between Valentine’s Day, the Oscars and décor like this, it’s hard to escape romance this month. but…who among us really wants to?






Add Sparkle to Your Life and Home!


Wear these fabulous sparkly pumps from Badgley Mischka with jeans and a t-shirt or with your favorite dress, and they’ll be equally at home.

As I set out on the streets of New York this morning, clouds hung especially thick and low. Snow is coming this evening, and you can feel it in the air. While I adore the snow, the winters in New York City do tend to keep us hunkered indoors. In order to avoid the blues, sometimes it’s necessary to find a bit of uplifting light on your own. I’ve found on days that are dreary, adding just a touch of sparkle can help brighten even the gloomiest of moods.


A sparkly scarf from Anthropologie is sure to brighten your outlook. Photo credit: anthropolgie.com.

Feeling blue? A glitter heel like the ones above from Badgley Mischka are sure to put a little pep in your step, while the sparkly infinity scarf from Anthropologie is sure to put a light in your eyes.

And nothing seems quite so glamorous–and nurturing–as a bit of sparkle in the bathroom.


Since your bathroom is a personal, nurturing space, it is a great place to add sparkle. Photo: chandelierswith.com

The rosey chandelier in this bathroom seems to add just enough sparkle to be glam, but not so much as to take away from the great relaxation that can be found at the end of a long day on your feet. Pair with this luxurious, sparkling bubble bar from Lush Cosmetics to keep the sparkle going.


The Melange Glamour Floor Mirror is a chameleon in décor styles and has hidden jewelry storage. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Mirrored and metallic finishes on furniture are another way to bring sparkle to your life and home.

Nothing adds sparkle to a room quite like the reflection of natural light. I just adore the Melange Glamour Floor Mirror. It’s a chameleon in décor styles–it could go mod, glam or transitional depending on its setting–and has hidden storage for all of your jewels. After all, every girl needs a place to store her jewels!


The faux Zinc finish gives a glimmer every time the light hits the Kenmar Pedestal Table. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Even if you’re short on space, you can find enough room for the Melange Kenmar Pedestal Table. At just 24 inches wide, it’s small enough to fit into the tightest corners, yet substantial enough to provide space for a cup of coffee and your favorite book. The classic design is a timeless shape and the faux zinc finish gives a glimmer every time the light hits.


The first time I laid eyes on the Melange Amaya Leather Chest, my breath literally caught in my chest. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

The beautiful contrast between the embossed leather detailing and he silver finish on the Melange Amaya Leather Chest is simply stunning. And the jewelry-inspired hardware has the look of elegant cufflinks-the perfect finishing touch to your ensemble. I am in love.

The right touch of sparkle could be just the thing you need to give your décor a little boost this winter. How do you add sparkle to your home?