Autumn Mantel Transformation and Tips


Good afternoon, everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  We did, and are now in the throes of switching the house out from summer to autumn.  As soon as the Autumnnal Equinox hit on September 22nd, our weather changed to cooler fall temperatures, and so the house decorations needed to make the shift as well.


Today I’m going to show you how our mantel transformed from summer to fall.  To start off our mantel transformation, here is the summer mantel look that we had going on:



I enjoyed the seaglass turquoise and sunshine yellow this summer.  But my first tip is that I like to take everything down and have a blank slate on the mantel for a few days, to get the creative juices flowing, so this is what it looked like in the transition:



I sat and looked at that blank mantel for a while, and another tip is to get out everything that you think you might want to use and have it out where you can see it.  (Your house will look messy at this stage, but it’s all part of the creative process!  And it’s not going to stay that way for long.)  If you’re like me, you collect objects for autumn decorating all year round, and I kind of forget about stuff I got a long time ago unless it is out in plain view.  You need all your potential raw materials out and visible so you know what you have to work with.  I start looking at those objects and thinking of different ways I could group items on the mantel.  This is the playful stage, so don’t be shy–try anything that comes to mind.  You don’t have to use it if you don’t like it, but sometimes you come up with something unexpected and delightful in this manner!  At this stage I’m still just working in my head, jotting down ideas on paper so I don’t forget them, and the mantel is still a blank canvas.


After thinking and looking for a few days, I put the mantel together for fall.  I went for a completely different look from summer to fall, featuring greys and chartreuse, with a little purple, orange and black added for fun!



Quite a change from summer and the bare mantel!  A tip for keeping disparate objects from looking cluttered is to add some symmetry and selective shine to your decorating mix.  If you look in the photo of the full mantel, you see that there are a pair of light fixtures, a pair of silver teapots–anything shiny pulls focus, and a pair of moon artwork pieces.  These were carefully placed so that the repetition adds a calming influence to the design mix.  This allows your focal pieces to draw your focus–also notice those shiny tea pots are both facing in toward the ivory pot and the shiny mirror behind the pot–this also helps to point your vision right to the center of the vignette.


These were my decorating assistants today ~



Since they insisted on birds, I came up with this:



My studious crow, who has wide and varied literary tastes as you can see, came home with me last year from Dollar Tree.   Another tip is to shop your own house for items in the right colors for your mantel.  I pulled some books with grey spines and covers off our shelves for my book stack.



I picked up this great purple print tablecloth the last time we visited Goodwill, and I also found the silver and grey candleholders there as well.  The teapots, which live on the mantel all year round because I love them, were a gift from my mom–yay, Mom!



I was so excited about this pot.  I found it at Salvation Army Thrift Store last Wednesday when they have their half-off everything weekly sale, and I picked it up for around three dollars!  (I apologize for not having a before picture of this, but it was dark brown with a bright orange inside, and I just got to painting it before I knew what happened!)  I wanted to tone it down, so I mixed up a quick homemade chalk paint using three parts flat latex ivory paint that I had on hand and one part plaster of paris, with a little water.  I followed Sharon’s recipe and her method of mixing, and it worked great.  I used a foam brush and brushed it on the pot inside and out, and then let it dry overnight.  Then I used sandpaper to rough it up and age its appearance.  I love how it turned out!  Another tip is to collect some neutral pieces that can be used for more than one season or purpose.  Now I’ve got a great base piece that can be used for flower arrangements, or to fill with Christmas ornaments or pinecones, or to hold rolled silverware in napkins for a party, or to turn upside down and stack objects on top or any decorative purpose, and it will work no matter the season because it’s a neutral color–ivory.



I stuck to my color palette of grey and chartreuse, with a little focused orange and black, and a wash of purple at the bottom.  This helps you when you are shopping, so another tip is to have a color plan for your mantel and only buy things that fit within that color scheme.  I found those chartreuse and purple dishes at Salvation Army, and at half price I knew they were coming home with me for fall decorating, because they fit into my colors perfectly.  (And they’ll be cute and useful for serving appetizers at any time of year!)  Even if I find something really cool, if it doesn’t work in my color palette, I don’t buy it (usually :). Sticking to a few select colors also lends an organized feel to a mantel with objects that came from a wide variety of sources, which could look cluttered otherwise.  I decided that my only shot of orange would be those silk leaves on the bare branches, so they really stand out and take center stage!  A little hot glue and Dollar Store leaves and I had a great centerpiece for my mantel.



This is the other side of the mantel.  I did a post on how to create the easy moon artwork.  I love this new little basket–a Salvation Army find for $1.50!  And Dollar Store for the ivory ceramic pumpkins.  Notice the round shapes in the basket, the pumpkins, the curve of the light and the moon. Another tip is to break up a visual expanse with a differing shape, and add different levels and uneven numbers to your displayed objects.  All those curves help to offset and soften the linear appearance of the mantel itself.  The basket adds height and texture to the composition, and the candleholder even more height.  This is also a grouping of 3, or 5 if you count the pumpkins individually, and objects grouped in uneven numbers are supposed to be more visually appealing than even numbers–works for me!


I hope you enjoy decorating for fall!




Have you started decorating for fall yet?  What do you like to use in your decorating?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments, so stop by for a visit!


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Thank you so much for your friendship and support–I appreciate it!

Till next time, 


I’m participating at:

Fall Nesting Party:  Mantels and Porches at The Inspired

Everything Fall Link Party at Fox Hollow Cottage

Easy Fall Decor at Thrifty Chick Decor

Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On The Porch

Mod Mix Monday at Mod Vintage Life

Tutorials and Tips Link Party at Home Stories From A 2 Z

Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm

It’s Fall Y’All Autumn Link Party at

Newbie Party at Debbiedoo’s

Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life

Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits at Stone Gable

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground

Potpourri Friday at 2805

Inspiration Friday at The Picket Fence

Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors

Funky Fall Decor at Funky Junk Interiors

 The Sunday Showcase at Under The Table and Dreaming

Sunday’s Best at My 1929 Charmer

Fridays Unfolded
I'm a Fan of My 1929 Charmer Blog!

Ivy and Elephants

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About AthenaMG

Athena McElrath is a Master Gardener with a love for gardening, decorating and cooking inexpensively. She enjoys working out in her urban garden in Southwest Washington State, watching the hummingbirds and other birds and insects, eating the wonderful vegetables, fruits and herbs that she produces from her garden, and just having a great time hanging out under the pergola with her family and friends (that is, whenever it stops raining long enough).
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24 Responses to Autumn Mantel Transformation and Tips

  1. Sherry says:

    It’s very pretty. I love the colors you chose, the chartreuse, purple and grey! I also love that you used thrift store and dollar store items to pull it all together nicely. I don’t have a mantle so I’m just dreaming when I look at these mantle decorating ideas. ;)

    • AthenaMG says:

      Hi Sherry: I’m so glad you liked the mantel! You know, you can use these same ideas to dress up a bookcase, or any shelf, or the top of a sideboard or even the refrigerator–I do! Have fun with it!

  2. Sandy Brown says:

    Your mantle looks fantastic! I find it hard decorating for fall. You did a lovely job and you have some really cute assistants!

  3. Cindi says:

    I love your mantel!
    Fall is my favorite season and you have really done a beautiful job of capturing it.
    I especially love seeing your “assistants”…I hope they leave your mantel alone!
    Mine would spend the day batting everything off!
    Thanks for visiting my blog!
    :) – Cindi

    • AthenaMG says:

      They actually do for the most part stay off the mantel, mostly because they are either too old or too fat to jump up there! They are good assistants–they help me with everything around the house.

  4. Athena,

    I love your mantel and the color selections. The orange leaves really pop. Your cats are beautiful. So nice of you to give them a raven on your mantel. I don’t usually start decorating until about Halloween other than to go buy pumpkins. It should be about that time. We have a great pumpkin patch out here where we get all colors of pumpkins. Love it.

    Yael from Home Garden Diggers

    • AthenaMG says:

      That sounds wonderful to pick your own pumpkins, Yael, and glad you liked the mantel and the cats–it will make them vain, but I will let them know!

  5. debbiedoos says:

    Thank you so much for joining me today. LOVE your mantel. SO pretty, and you have such great elements that scream, FALL is in the air.

  6. Karen says:

    t’s beautiful Athena, love the colors.

  7. Kim says:

    I love the many layers of your mantel. Good job.

  8. Maysem says:

    Love the touch of green in there with the orange… looks fantastic!!

  9. Angela says:

    I love it, Athena! Especially that awesome pot with the branches and those white pumpkins!

    Have a great weekend.


  10. Honey says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your fabulous Fall inspiration and creativity at Potpourri Friday!

  11. Pearl Maple says:

    nicely done! that crisp green is the perfect foil for seasonal orange

  12. vickie says:

    Love your mantel.The bird is my favorite, I use several of these in my Fall decor. Great idea to paint the pot. I am now following you on Facebook.Oh yes, I am a Master Gardener too-our group has a

  13. Deanna says:

    Looks great!! I love the pops of green!! Just found your blog and I’m now following you!! =) Deanna

  14. Paula says:

    Athena your mantel transformation is wonderful. This is such an awesome post. I would love it if you would share this post at our WIW linky party. Hope you can join us. :-)


  15. Gorgeous – love the symmetry with the one little crow in the corner (keep him away from those kitties)!

  16. Your mantel is very pretty, and I also love the bird and he pops of green you used. I really do love everything about this mantel, simplicity, texture and color. What a beautiful combination you have achieved! Thanks for sharing your inspiration with Sunday’s Best – you helped make the party a success!

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