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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!

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