Red and green will always be holiday-style stars, but bold blues are making inroads. Instead of the expected pairing with white or silver, mix brighter blues (turquoise, teal or royal) with warm tones like champagne and gold, or go even darker with chocolate (we love these Frost Ball ornaments from 18KARAT). When dressing your mantel, make sure to incorporate items that have some reflectivity to keep the colours from looking muddy. You’re going for a sumptuous look, so add string lights, wired ribbon and a touch of glass for added sparkle.
Design tip: Too bold? Use blue elements more sparingly and add some greenery in a warm tone (cedar boughs hit the right note) for a more natural look.
Who says holiday mantels must channel reindeer, Santa and winter wonderlands? Why not embrace the exotic? If you collect chinoiserie (think blue-and-white porcelain), fill bowls with Mandarin oranges and greenery (or chartreuse ornaments): the colours will pop. Peacock or pheasant feathers look striking when used sparingly—pair with clear glass or wooden objets to keep them from looking campy. Add a touch of the tropics with iridescent seashells, bleached (faux) starfish, sand dollars and other beachy finds, like this quirky-meets-cool papier-mâché shell tree from Pottery Barn.
Design tip: Hang an unusual wreath over the mantel as a focal point. We love the old-world elegance of the Kotinos Wreath in Antique Gold; find it at The Cross.
Vintage trophies, ornate teacups, leather-bound books, toy soldiers, snow globes, seashells, mercury glass ornaments… the list is virtually limitless. Press your collections into service by clustering items onto your mantel and start embellishing to bring the holidays home. Vessels can be filled with pine cones, silver bells or fresh flowers, depending on what look you’re trying to achieve. Perch pillar candles (with non-drip wax) on stacks of books, or wrap white LED lights around seashells strewn among cedar swags—the only limits are your imagination.
Design tip: Don’t overdo it. Choose one or two complementary collections with pieces in a similar style or from a similar era.
White-on-white can be one-dimensional and chilly. Warm up this monochrome mainstay with texture and tone. For instance, don’t just opt for bright or bluish white, find softer hues with pink, grey or yellow undertones, which will add instant interest. And look to nature for texture. Consider using faux antlers painted a creamy white, spray some fake snow on twigs and dip pinecones into white paint. Elements in blonde woods evoke Scandinavian simplicity (hello, IKEA), or get sophisticated by incorporating accents pieces in marble, milk glass or porcelain. Fill the spaces in between with hefty pillar candles for a warm and alluring whiteout.
Design tip: Mix, don’t match. Scour thrift shops to find white accessories that go together to achieve a look that’s curated, not cobbled together.
During the holidays, red poinsettias and amaryllis offer that seasonable burst of holiday energy. Channel it in one spot by bedecking your mantel with these fresh accents. For an unexpected twist: forgo the greenery. Simply lop off the showy blooms and place them in vases where they can command attention. Vary the heights of the vessels and group arrangements together for impact. We also love the sculptural simplicity of ilex, with its bright-red berries: pop ceiling-scraping stems into a slender vase to create some decor drama.
Design tip: Visit European-inspired Celsia Floral, our Kitsilano go-to, for holiday-worthy blooms that go beyond the seasonal basics.
Sure, the holidays are a time to imbibe, but horse racing season is over, so you won’t be needing those mint julep cups, right? And maybe you can spare a couple of copper Moscow Mule mugs while you’re at it. Cram these boozy accoutrements with fragrant greenery, like pine, cedar or seeded eucalyptus. Drop some tea lights into cut crystal highball glasses, and in minutes your mantel will be decked. Just make sure to strike a balance between whimsy and over-the-top.
Design tip: Not using that vintage champagne bucket? Fill it with pine cones for a chic high-low look.
Sparkling silver ornaments and shimmering tinsel are holiday classics, but this year make a break from tradition. After all, there has been a warming trend when it comes to using metals at home. Extend the look to your fireplace mantel by mixing bronze, copper and brass accents. But wait: it’s not a free-for-all, so stick to some semblance of order. For instance, start with slim brass candlesticks in varying heights to draw the eye upward, mix in some copper balls, sprinkle in a few rustic gold bells and finish off the look with an accent colour like blush pink or mint green for a modern departure from tradition.
Design tip: Incorporate some splurge-worthy metal accents you can use year-round, like these copper and brass Etch candle holders by Tom Dixon, available at Inform Interiors.
Go beyond the traditional basics and deck out your fireplace mantel in festive style that demands attention
During the holiday season, the tree gets all the glory with its masses of lights, ornaments—which are passed down through the decades—and that crowning touch: a star. This year, give your fireplace mantel its design due with unexpected elements and non-traditional colours.
Here are seven spectacular solutions that might just make your mantel outshine the tree.
Janet Gyenes is a writer, editor, beverage columnist and co-founder of 70 magazine, an online travel publication. She has co-authored two travel guidebooks on Vancouver and has put her insatiable curiosity to work in words and photos, covering topics such as tasting sherry in Spain, mule-riding in Molokai, and tracking textile trends in Turkey. She regularly writes for BCLiving about food, beverage, design and more.