From Christmas Mantel & Halloween Mantel To Spring Mantel

Having a fireplace in the kitchen is definitely something that we think is charming (it’s the heart of the home, and even though it’s not functional, just tucking a basket of Clara’s toys or books in there and having a spot to display stuff above the mantel is our idea of a good time). Well, maybe I should say it’s my idea of a good time, since I’m pretty sure John could commit to whatever we have up there at any given time for the next ten years. I, on the other hand, like to turn surfaces like the mantel into a rotating display or sorts. Not every day or even every few weeks, but it’s safe to say that around once a month I get a wild hair and decide to switch some things out. And our mantel has undergone quite the transformation since we moved in. Here are just a few “takes” on it, over the last fifteen months here:

About a week after we moved in (in mid December of 2010) we wanted to cozy up the room full of brick and paneling, so I slapped some holiday stuff up there and called it a day:

A while later (after priming and painting the brick and the mantel), I kept it simple with two fauxpiaries (faux topiaries) from Crate & Barrel and a round hanging mirror along with a mirror in the firebox, and a tray full of candles. This definitely wasn’t Clara friendly, I was just having mommy fun when she went off to bed:

After priming and painting the paneled walls (which look extra green here since we didn’t have good kitchen lighting installed yet), I added some Halloween stuff, complete with some homemade bleeding candles:


Then it was decorated for our second Christmas here, with a mirror that later moved into the living room, some stockings, a basket full of presents, and a few feather trees (eeks, the colors are all sorts of terrible in this pic, again since we didn’t have our new kitchen lighting installed yet):

Well, now it looks like this (don’t mind that one remaining broken light that we’ve been meaning to replace for months now):

Oh yes, and we still haven’t trimmed out the area where the cork meets the tile surround yet (but you know we’ll share pics when we do)!

Here’s a little side action:

You might notice one of my favorite birthday presents ever, this little painting of Burger from my insanely thoughtful friend Lesli (who is one of the most talented painters I know). Yup, I cried when I opened it. It just captures him perfectly (she used this picture to base it on). I love that it’s small and chunky (the canvas is extra thick and just 9 inches wide/tall). And for everyone sweetly wondering how he’s doing since this incident, he’s back to his usual happy self, thank goodness. We are so grateful.

Of course these blooms won’t stay up there nearly as long as my beloved Burger portrait probably will (darn you tulips, why must you die?) but for now I’m loving them in this bright green vase. It was one of those free vases that came with a birthday bouquet that a friend sent me last year (it was sitting in my little decorating cabinet waiting to get some action).

Oh and I got those tulips last Wednesday since we were hosting some Easter guests and I wanted to brighten up the house. They’re still looking happy thanks to reclipping their stems and refreshing the water every few days (and dropping an old penny in the water to help keep them from getting too floppy).Yay tulips! But I think I might only get one more week out of them. Sniffle. But I guess that opens me up to a whole new mantel makeover. Haha. And so it continues…

Do you have a mantel or another surface (the top of a console, dresser, your coffee table or dining table?) that you tweak every once in a while? Can you believe we lived with that dark paneling and weird lighting that made everything look neon as long as we did? I can’t either.


  1. Blythe says

    Wow, it’s amazing how UGLY that kitchen used to be, isn’t it? Your beautiful updates just have me itching to tackle our kitchen. Still savin’ our pennies…….

  2. Michele Daggar says

    Love the Burger picture! So scary what happened to him last week. We had to put our beloved border collie, Rex, to sleep last month. He somehow developed kidney failure out of nowhere. He just stopped eating. He was only 7. We now have a new puppy, Indy, who is so sweet and so crazy. They are such members of the family aren’t they? Sorry for the long story, but when I read about Burger my heart gave a little flip….

    Totally off subject, I got my most recent issue of Do It Yourself magazine, and your column wasn’t in it. Did you guys stop writing for them? I know it’s not my business, but that magazine was how I first found YHL. I’m just a nosy gal I guess.

    • says

      I’m so sorry for your loss Michele! What a shock. Lots of love to you guys and little Indy! Oh and as for DIY, thanks to book craziness we asked for a “rain check” scenario, so we’ll hop back on board with our column as soon as things settle down a bit (still doing lots of layout stuff, proofing, putting together a resource section for the back with all of our sources for every pics, etc). Can’t wait until this book baby is birthed! Haha.


  3. susanne says

    The fireplace isn’t functional?..I know you removed the stove. Do you just need some work done before you can use it? Can’t wait til you make it two sided!

    • says

      Yes, we’d love to convert it to a double sided gas fireplace someday- but it’s sealed off so we would just have to unseal it so it vents again.


  4. says

    Oh I just love how you can change it up like that! I haven’t changed mine in about 7 months, but I know I need too! Its not over the fireplace anymore (Was way to small) but I painted it white and hung it in my dinning room. (Inspired by the shelves in your old house dining room!) Maybe I should do it soon! Here’s a post with a picture in it.

  5. Sue says

    Love the tulips! They’re my favorite flower, but they’re a florist’s nightmare (I work for a florist). They can be closed up tight when you leave to deliver them, but be wide open by the time they get to their destination. Today we got another tulip order, and my boss hollered, “Why is everyone ordering these infernal tulips? Has the whole world gone mad???”

  6. Sarah W says


    You guys make decorating look so easy! I love it! Our house looks like we moved in 4 weeks ago, not 4 years!

    I primed our fireplace with oil-based primer *over a year ago* and never got around to painting (even though I have the paint and supplies stored just a few feet away), and it just so happens to be on of our dogs favorite places to lay in the summer since the brick is nice and cool, so now its looking a little grubby. After I clean it to the best of my ability, should I prime it again? Can I do that? Or do you think some Georgia red-clay stains would be okay to paint over???

    • says

      Oh yes, I’d wipe it down and prime it one more time, just since primer can grab best when it hasn’t sat around for that long. Then try not to wait more than a week before painting it so the primer is still “open” for the best hold!


  7. Courtney says

    I’ve always heard adding vodka to the water would keep tulips from being all droopy, but who wants to waste vodka? I’ll definitely be trying the penny trick next time.

  8. says

    SO happy Burger is still acting like his old self! My childhood dog, Nikki, had seizures and they were some of the most terrifying moments I remember. Fortunately, they are able to manage it with medicine, but still it was awful. Family animals are so special and important, Im glad he is doing fine!

  9. Jackie says

    I kind of think that when you live with something everyday you don’t realize how bad it really is! I love what you have done with your kitchen!

    We lived with mustard yellow paint and a florescent light for over a year with our house. Yuck!

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