Simple Sophisticated Mantel

By Kate Riley November 30, 2010

Hello friends, I’m so excited!  Today we kick off the Holiday Home link parties, and this Tuesday is all about mantels!  My amazingly talented friend Layla is hosting a holiday party ~ she’ll be posting at noon (with a crazy beautiful DIY project), be sure to link up!


cg holiday mantel right

This year, after transforming our living room into the space I’ve envisioned, adding wainscoting, and brightening the space, inspired by gray blues, white, and gold, I’ve decorated our mantel oh so simply, keeping it elegant, but with the most inexpensive decor.   

I believe that it doesn’t take a lot of money or effort to create a beautiful mantel.  Just greenery, some old standbys, plus a favorite color of the moment, and you can create for yourself a gorgeous holiday focal point.  My mantel is a mix of something old, something new, simple ornaments, and a hint of blue. 

cg mantel mirror  

The Casbah mirror is a floor sample from Lamps Plus, previously bronze, but I spray painted it a glam gloss white and turned it on its side ~ I mentioned the makeover in this living room post.   For the ‘something old’ I have my standby ornament wreath I’ve had for over five years.  I used it last year in my silver and gold sideboard display, but this year it holds the prominent place on the mantel mirror.   Ornament wreaths never fail ~ I think they are a new classic!

The ‘something new’ pieces are the Pottery Barn quilted lined velvet stockings, which I contemplated making, but with various discounts turned out to be worth the expense for the quality.  I love them!  I had them personalized with my three kids’ names but *sneaky CG*  I blurred their names so (tee hee hee) the mystery of their identity continues . . .  :-)   

The gorgeous blue bottle comes from a Russell & MacKenna giveaway that I won from my friend Sarah’s blog a few months back.   Isn’t it stunning?  Time and again I return to my love of colorful blown glass!

 cg blue bottle left side of mantel


I’m also big believer in fresh greenery for scent and organic appeal, so I spend a few dollars every season on cedar and fir.  I need that smell!  Often, I clip greens from my own backyard, how cheap is that?   But I always add a little of the faux here and there to give the fresh greenery a boost.  You can see some faux glittery swags on the very ends, slipped in for sparkle and flair. 

On the right side of our mantel is a my old apothecary jar ~ always a faithful servant ~ this vessel never fails to deliver the perfect display time and again. 

cg real with faux greenery 

I used in the same way in last year’s pink and gold mantel.  This year I’m sticking with a medley of metallics, gold, silver, pewter and bronze, and also a favorite shade of blue. 

 cg holiday mantel apothecary jar


The bowl I found on super clearance at Pier One a year ago for about $10 dollars.  I love its speckled leopard like pattern.  Every once in awhile, I find something cheap and chic that speaks to me ~ that bowl is part of my ‘cheap and chic’ collection! 

In my book, piling different colored ornaments in glass vessels is the best and most inexpensive way to add sparkle to your home during Christmastime.  The triple bead garland cost me $4 bucks at Tar-jay, love!  It’s swaged and attached to the cedar with floral wire. 

 bead garland


Do you spy a new mirrored gold leaf cocktail table? 

cg holiday mantel


I saw this end table on One Kings Lane a month ago and had to have it!  Are you signed up to receive emails from them?  Designer goods at clearance prices, what’s not to love?  

cg gold cocktail table


Mixed metallics and shades of blue speak to me this year. 

 cg holiday mantel left side

cg holiday mantel right


What inspires you this season?  Won’t you join in the festivities? 

Link up your mantel to Layla’s party later today!   If you follow me on Twitter, I’ll let you know when the party is live! 




  1. I am really digging the balance created by the weight of the objects in differing heights on your mantel. Not symmetry but balance. This mantel puts last year’s to shame.

  2. So pretty, I love how simple yet still in the Holiday spirit. I am slowly but surely getting the house decorated, but no mantel, so I am trying to come up with another solution :)

  3. I love how elegant and clean your mantle is. The color scheme is so sophisticated and calming. Just breathtaking. I love that table you got from OKL. I love shopping there!

  4. Gorgeous. I love the mixed metals and blue tones as well. My living room is mostly those colours as well. I love your shine mixed with the greenery – a perfect balance.

  5. Your mantel is STUNNING! Amazing! LOVE IT! Do you do online consulting? I could really use your help (after the holidays) with our mantel area after we move all the toy bins to the newly remodeled basement…

    Keep on beautifying — very inspiring!

  6. Your mantel is beautiful! Love the color choices. We purchased the same PB stockings last season, I totally agree…with a couple discounts they are so worth it!

  7. Love those colors, especially because thats my color scheme this year!

    Loving the Mantel. Thats one thing I miss about our last house… the Mantel! Our new house doesn’t have a fireplace [booo!] so I will have to be creative as far as finding a place for the stockings!

  8. Lovely!!! Simple and chic. :) I love the colors you used this year…great way to change things up! I don’t have a mantel, but I’m still working on getting my Nutcrackers on top of our TV armoire. I’m making T go out to get a tree tomorrow. :)

  9. well that’s ridiculously gorgeous!

    unrelatedly, i haven’t heard from the moderntribe people about the giveaway…you wanted us to let you know if we didn’t hear by the end of yesterday. i don’t know about the others, but i didn’t. thanks.

  10. Beautiful display! I was thinking of going blue and green next year & I just love all the blues and silvers in your display! <3 good job chica!

    I totally agree that good holiday decor and a fab mantle can be uber cheap and still breathtaking!


  11. My word your mantle is just gorgeous!! I am a fairly new reader and LOVE your blog… so much inspiration for us budget savvy decorators–thanks so much!!

  12. Heart be still! I’m loving the mantle, and the triple beaded garland is my favorite part – so simple yet so chic! And I’m so jealous that you sprung for the side table on OKL – I was dying over it!!

  13. Soooo gorgeous Kate! I also added real greens to my mantel for the reveal but they’re already off. It’s too early! LOL How do you keep fresh greens staying great for the duration of the season?


  14. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous Kate! The triple bead garland is my favorite. And that Pier One bowl is so pretty. I’m actually loving the little side table too and almost bought one like that for our sitting room recently. May have to pull the trigger on it! Looking forward to meeting you in January!

  15. I absolutely love it. I just decorated for the holidays on Saturday and I thought I was finished. After seeing your mantel, I have more work to do! Just beautiful!

  16. I LOVE your mantle! It is beautiful! We are in the process of renovating our new home we are just purchasing. It has 4 fireplaces! I have never had a fireplace mantle to decorate ever and am so excited about this! I am now following your blog and will follow on twitter as well, as I need all the design help I can get with the new house.

  17. I just found your site and wanted to do further exploration but I do not see any “next page” or “more” buttons. Help?

  18. Beautiful mantel, very glam yet cozy! Makes me not want to post mine for the linky party, but I will ;)

  19. Simple and sophisticated–excellent descriptors of your mantel. I’d have to add a third adjective, though: BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing the loveliness!

  20. it looks beautiful! i love the colors you used, and it just blends so nicely in your living room. russel & mackenna’s flagship store is actually here in my hometown of severna park, md! and i love one kings lane, too! i just ordered something from them today. great deals! eveeything looks beautiful, kate!

  21. It’s so beautiful. I love the blue beaded details. Glitter seems to be a common theme this year! Loving the sparkle and simple elegance your mantel has (:

  22. First – love love love the mantel.

    But i have an uber-dumb question that i just can’t NOT ask anymore: how on Earth do you get your wreaths to hang in front of your mirror like that? I must know — because so far, each of my attempts has been an epic fail!

  23. Hey Kate, thanks for your sweet comment on my mantel! Yours is, of course, divine! I ADORE its simplicity and that table is gorgeous. Love, love, love. -shaunna :)

  24. Your mantel is so so pretty! I love that you combine grey and gold. I never would have thought to do that. I guess grey and silver are always partners in my mind but your combination is just great.

    I am feeling self-conscious about my mantel but think I will link up anyway. :)

  25. I’ve been pining over those PB stocking forever. They look so great on your mantle. I love the real greenery too, but alas, but the hubs and I are allergic! :(

  26. So pretty! I love that blue! I think we may be using that color in our master bedroom whenever we get to the redo in there!

    Beautiful mantle for sure!

  27. Hi Sayonada! I’m a trickster! I drive a big fat nail into the wall stud directly on top of the mirror, hang my wreath, then cover up the nail with a big bow!

  28. Love your mantel this year…but then I loved last year’s as well. The blues are just very calming this year. Not sure what I’m going to do for decorating this year…after my BIG purge the past three weeks…just need a few days off ;) Hop on over and check out my huge rubber stamp sale…all the profits are going to one of my favorite charities. Thanks, Roberta

  29. love! this is perfection at its finest!! if you will, please let me know your wall color paint–its divine.

  30. Simply stunning! I was going for something so similar, sadly mine doesn’t come close to that! I don’t have a wreath or anything above my mantel yet and my mantels are so big (especially one of them – it’s huge!) It sounds like a good thing, but it makes it tough for me to figure out what to do with it.

  31. Wow! Your mantel and decorations look fantastic. You obviously have a natural ability to decorate. It’s because of people like you that I too can decorate! Thanks for sharing! :)

  32. So gorgeous Kate! I wonder if you could give me a tip for decorating the mantle with a HUGE flatscreen hanging above it. Its about a foot and a half above our mantle. Grr…hubbies idea! I do love the “home theater experience” though. Oh and that gold leaf table is ADORABLE!!!

  33. You’ve really done it this time! Where did you find that darling wreath or did you make it? I am drooling over the entire look! I’m inspired once again.

  34. your mantel looks great. wish i can do something like that. i have given the mantel to the hubby. he has his tv up there… i wish i can somehow change his mind…

  35. I just saw your blog on Nesting Place! Your wreath is yummy! I may just make one myself. I’m using the same metallic colors this year. The mix of blue is beautiful, crisp, gorgeous!

  36. Beautiful. I can see already that you’re going to be listed for my favorite Christmas post just like you were for Halloween!! You’ve inspired me with the beaded garland which I haven’t used in a while!

  37. Oh my goodness, a quintessential example of how simplicity can be so elegant. Wonderfully executed!

  38. Beautiful! I love the blue. I’m with the other ladies in asking, do you have any suggestions for a tv hanging above your mantel? Due to our inconvenient floorplan it’s really the only place we can put ours.

  39. OOOh!… I’d have to choose only one? I love the beige “naughty cat” but would love to display the “be nice or leave” prominently the next time my in-laws visit -The tree of life would look soooo good on my sofa…..Dee

  40. You demonstrate how some simple stand-bys (metallic ornaments, wreath, mirror and glass) can reach a Whole Nother Level when you find just the RIGHT piece. You sure did that with that stunner on the left. Drooling. Envy. Yes, that is a keeper. Then, to have the absolute talent to have found the right color in that leopard-y blue bowl.


    Your design is simple and refreshing. Brings in the season and reflects your talent, resourcefulness and taste. You carry that further with that little gold table. Wow, level two. You don’t play Copy Cat here. The table has its own colors and motif — yet the modern clean lines and metallic coolness enhance the mantel.

    I’m ready for my cup of cocoa now…

  41. i love the mirror over your mantel! where did you find that? i’ve never seen anything like it.

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