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posted: 6/28/2013 10:51 AM

Fast summer mantel makeovers

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  • Your mantel display is the eye-catching focal point of the room, so trick it up for the season.

    Your mantel display is the eye-catching focal point of the room, so trick it up for the season.
    SHNS photo courtesy Nell Hill's

By Mary Carol Garrity
Scripps Howard News Service

Celebrate the season by giving your mantel a 15-minute summer makeover. Your mantel display is the eye-catching focal point of the room, so trick it up for the season. But don't spend much time. Light and breezy -- and super-simple -- is the name of the game when it comes to summer decorating. That way, you can get outside and enjoy the sun! Here are two simple but stunning mantel displays to inspire you this summer.

• Soft and serene, an asymmetrical display can be intriguing yet delightfully simple. We started by creating a strong visual element on the left side. Pillar candlesticks were the perfect pick. They bring in arresting height, yet, because they are clear glass, they don't overwhelm. Together, the three of them make a statement.

For the right side, use a collection of visually diverse elements to create an arresting tapestry that is also very simple. To give our display some movement, we needed a riser to prop up a few accents. So we stole two books from our bookcase, turning them backward so only the vanilla pages showed. We echoed the clear-glass-and-white color palette established by the candlesticks through the first two accents in our montage: a white figurine and a clear glass paperweight. I love a pop of color to shake things up in these monochromatic displays, and, boy, did we get it with maidenhair ferns.

• I love white and brightly colored pottery right now. These pieces are a decorator's dream because they are bold and beautiful structural elements that work in just about any style of home. They give you a chance to inject the season's hottest colors into displays. And, they are so inexpensive you can get several to tuck into displays throughout your home. Decorating tools that pack this kind of punch don't come along very often!

Since red is so hot this season, we built this display around twin red vases. You can't put anything wimpy next to these strong sentinels, so the other elements in the display needed to be just as powerful.

Each side of this symmetrical mantel display is the mirror image of the other. Once again, we started by making risers out of a short stack of books, turned backward. The red vases stand guard on each side, made even bolder by the added boost they got from the books. We wanted the display to descend, creating a V, so we followed with slightly shorter white pottery vases, each holding live ferns. We could have stopped there for a simple, clean look. But we couldn't resist the opportunity to add in something shiny, so we tucked in mercury-glass artichokes. Love them!

You don't have to clear your mantel and start new when you decorate it for summer. You can just tuck a few seasonal elements into an existing display. That's what I do at home. I have a few pieces I keep on my mantel year-round and for summer, mix in ferns inserted into white, simple pottery cachepots.

• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at

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