Whether you’re a DIY newbie or a seasoned pro, you take on projects that you love because you want them to look amazing in your home! And, if you’re like us, many of our projects come from something we saw somewhere that inspired us… usually something on Pinterest. 😉
Even though I think, deep down, we know that the magazine beautiful spaces are an illusion (so impractical sometimes!), it’s okay to draw inspiration from them and balance it out with real-world needs in your home. But how do you bring that inspiration to life in your home, especially when you’re decorating (after you’ve knocked out the walls, built your custom furniture, DIYed your heart out, and are ready to finally have a finished BEAUTIFUL space that’s not under construction…)
You break it down!
Okay… not exactly like that. More like this:
Look at the major elements of the styling inspiration photos and take note of their shape, style, and characteristics.
Looking at a room or vignette in terms of shapes/characteristics helps you adapt the arrangement to use what you already have, or to fit your style to make your arrangement more modern/rustic/colorful — rather than just trying to find identical items to re-create the exact look.
We’ve done this a lot in our Get This Look series (like pictured above) for a full room design, plus the tips we shared here, so today we thought we’d think a little bit smaller and talk about some of the trickiest spaces to decorate: mantels and shelves. Dawn shared some great mantel inspiration photos here, so we’ll use a couple of those as our inspirations to break down today.
For extra tips to get you started, be sure to sign up for the FREE Styling Secrets workshop here* — more info below or in this post. The workshop goes live *tomorrow* so sign up now* and you’ll have immediate access tomorrow morning!
The first mantel we want to emulate is this simple beauty from Melissa over at The Inspired Room (whose entire home is gorgeous, so go say hello!).
Looking at her mantel arrangement, we broke it down into 5 main elements:
1: Large rectangle frame
2: Smaller rectangle frame
3: Set of two medium-height cylinders
4: Tall cylinder with an organic shape (aka a plant)
5: Set of 3 small spheres
Remember, you’ll want to pay attention to both the size/shape of the elements, and their other characteristics (such as texture) especially in relation to the rest of the vignette and any patterns you see (such as groupings, or similarities between elements, such as being the same texture or color). Texture makes such a huge difference! For example, on Melissa’s mantel, there are numerous textures: the flat white frames, the stippled vases, the clear glass vase, and the shiny metallic apples.
Now, let’s practice on a mantel with a few more elements: this lovely layout from Centsational Girl (also a gorgeous home, gorgeous style, go visit!).
We broke it down into 7 elements:
1: Large rectangle frame
2: Tall thin cylinder with an organic shape (again, a plant. Every arrangement needs some life!)
3: Small horizontal rectangle, with 4 & 5 on top
4: Small vertical rectangle
5: Small cylinder with tall organic shapes (feathers)
6: Grouping of books, to mimic the horizontal rectangle box on the right, with 7 on top
7: Triple set of tall thin elements
There’s also the pumpkins, which I didn’t label because, well, because I was kind of running out of space for numbers! The arrangement would still look nice without them, but having those smaller elements repeated is kind of like icing on a very pretty mantel cake. Remember how I mentioned looking for connections and patterns? That’s where the pumpkins come in — a repeated element to tie the whole thing together.
In this layout, you also see mirrored rectangular shapes — the box on the right is mimicked by the stack of books on the left, so it’s balanced without being perfectly symmetrical. And groups — 3 apples in the first mantel, 3 candlesticks in the second mantel. Watch for groups, whether they are displayed together like the apples and candlesticks or spread out like the pumpkins.
Ready to practice? Go pick out your favorite inspiration photo. You know the one — you’ve probably pinned it in several different places because you LOVE it so much! Analyze it, break it down, and shop your house for things that you already have that can create the same look. (If you’re coming up short and need some variety, try one of these elements to liven things up.)
Just like anything, though — decorating gets easier and better with 1) practice and 2) coaching.
You don’t have to be tied to a decor arrangement, so try it, try it again, and keep rearranging and tweaking. But just like trying to teach yourself to, for example, swim — you can spend a lot of time sputtering and swallowing water on your own (speaking from experience ;), or you can work with a great coach who will give you tips and strategies to make your practice time even more valuable, to get you past the doggy-paddle stage.
Sports metaphors aside, that’s why we are so thrilled to be teaming up with Jackie Hernandez from Teal and Lime and The School of Decorating right now to offer a Remodelaholic-exclusive FREE decorating workshop: Seven Simple Styling Secrets.
You can study inspiration images, Pinterest it up, and spend a lot of time practicing — but if you’re like me, it’s really nice to have a coach to teach you the ropes! And Jackie is a great decorating “coach”. So be sure to sign up for the free workshop, where, in less than an hour, Jackie will teach you the techniques to accelerate your decorating skills and turn you into a mantel-decorating pro, all before your holiday guests arrive!
(available tomorrow morning, but only through December 9th! Watch any time that’s convenient for your schedule during that time.)
*Disclosure: Remodelaholic is an affiliate for School of Decorating. If you join School of Decorating after clicking a link in this post, I may receive an affiliate commission. We only recommend products we believe in 100%. School of Decorating gives you the decorating courage and know how you need to create a home you love, and we’re sure you’re going to love it!
Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.