A couple of weeks ago I talked with Nashville’s Rhonda Taylor for a story I was writing for The Tennessean about decorating a mantel for Christmas. She owns Nashville Home Staging, so she has a lot of ideas about how to make a house look like home. For families who celebrate Christmas, those ideas can naturally spill over into the holidays, when all the fresh greenery and twinkling lights make everything more festive.
When we talked, it was after my deadline, so not all of her decorating tips made it into the story, but many of her ideas are right in line with some of the things we do at our house to make things merry for the holidays.
“I always tell people, start with what is most sentimental, and go from there.” After that, she says, what you choose to display above the fireplace is a personal, meaningful choice.
“We use a lot of natural elements – not faux greenery or evergreens,” she says. “I like the natural woods and berries, and then add anything glitzy.” She is fond of the warm look of Carrara marble, and uses a collection of figurines that give a holiday spirit, she says. Other ideas from Rhonda:
∙Keep the mantel simple, but use something that’s sentimental and that says “holiday” at the same time.
∙Mix metals: bring in the polished chrome, the silver and gold are all back in full force, style-wise. “It really makes a pretty display when there are a variety of metal categories.”
∙Use lighting – tiny white lights, or the glow of the candles, brings in a warm, golden glow to long, dark nights.
My own mantel is a mix of faux greenery (a sort of base layer, strung with white lights) covered with greenery I bring in from the yard: boxwood branches, magnolia leaves, holly, nandina leaves and berries. We use a mix of crystal and silver candlesticks, slender crystal bud vases and small water-filled glass vases tucked among the greenery to keep berries and leaves fresh as long as possible. (Even so, I always plan to replace some of the leaves and berries as they dry out before the holidays.) It’s the best way I can think to bring the outdoors in for a few weeks in winter.
The story I wrote for The Tennessean ran in the paper several days ago, but it’s still available at Tennessean.com if you want get more tips from the experts.