The V Spot

Rants, observations and home decorating from a woman with no time for a blog.

The Mantel From Hell: summer edition

I hate my mantel.
I mean really.  I hate it.  What is one to do with a decorating conundrum like this?
mantel. fireplace, vaulted ceiling, asymmetrical, paneling,
1. There is a wacky, asymmetrical vaulted ceiling
2. There is a wacky soffit that sticks out
3. The fireplace is centered on the room, not on the mantel
4. There is beautiful woodwork, but it is oak and wacky Hubby won’t let me paint it a nice crisp white.

So I am never happy with how the mantel is decorated, and since I decorate seasonally, there are 4 times a year where I am freshly disappointed.

This had been my lame spring mantel:
green, blue, mantel, artwork, bird, topiary, turquoise
Hardly inspirational. In fact, it kind of irritated me every time I looked at it.
I looked at mantels here.

The Lettered Cottage

It inspired me to summer it up a bit.
turquoise, white, summer, shell, coral, mantel, barn star
I took the green frame from the spring mantel and shot it with a coat of Rustoleum’s Heirloom White. (Yes, I use the same frames over and over and over again.)  The barn star was a rusty red metal, but I cleaned it up and painted it with my current favorite color: Valspar’s Mediterranean.

I put a nail through the top of the barn star and into the frame, but the two bottom points of the star are secured with Museum Putty, which I have raved about in previous posts.
turquoise, white, blue, summer, frame, mantel, starfish
I tucked a few twine-wrapped starfish into the frame and secured them with Museum Putty as well.
From there I added a blue vase with hydrangeas that I’m drying and various shells and summery items.
turquoise, mantel, frame, white, star, shells, silver
I am a big believer in the rule of 3.  Three pops of the turquoise, three silver candlesticks, three books… Odd numbers are good. They just balance nicely.
coral, shell, blue, barn star
starfish, twine shell, candlestick, silver apothecary jar, shells, summer, decor
I like the details.
It’s when I step back and view the whole wacky, asymmetrical mess of a mantel that I start getting twisty. Grr.
Any suggestions?
(And don’t say “move” or to use a blowtorch.  Handosme Hubby already shot down those ideas…)



Vicki V @ said...

May 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm
Layla at The Lettered Cottage recently worked her computer magic on a similar asymmetrical fireplace here: Maybe this will give you a few ideas?

MiMi said...

May 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm
I dunno!!! You are one of my go - to's for decor ideas! I think it looks good, really.
And the only thing that would make the assymetrical thing NOT pop out would be the white paint. :/
Um. I totally need to go guess again cuz I got it wrong. BLEH.

Heather at Dragonfly Designs said...

May 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm
LOL I like your display! {I have to do something with my wooden star thingy hmmmm} What to do? Paint it white! But that's my answer for everything and the hubs doesnt always like it either :P

Liz @ Sugarplum Creations said...

May 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm
I like what you've come up with! I can't stand it when things aren't centered either, so I can see your dilemma there. Dang husbands that won't let us "fix" everything.

Nicole@Thrifty Decorating said...

May 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm
My initial thought was to paint the wood white...make it pop! :)

Have a great day!

Tracy's Trinkets and Treasures said...

May 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm
I have seen people use white contact paper when they coudln't paint. One blogger did all the kitchen cabinets with contact paper on her rent house. It would let you and your husband see if white really worked for you or not. Another idea is lean some beadboard at the back of the mantel for a backdrop. Maybe even frame it out with a cool bright frame. ????

Keetha Broyles said...

May 30, 2011 at 11:09 pm
I like your mantle. I like that it is unique and different. I LOVE the oak.

Angie @ The Country Chic Cottage said...

May 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm
What if you got some huge chippy white paint shutters at a salvage yard and leaned em up there. That should sort of pull your eye down to the fireplace. Ya think??

Mary said...

May 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm
If it were me, I'd just paint it while hubby was asleep! But if you want to play it nice......You could make a wooden cover. Or actually have hubby make it since you're being nice about it. It would be a BIG project, but I don't think it would be too difficult. It would go from ceiling to mantle top, and you can connect it discretely to the ceiling and side walls without damaging the oak. You can use inexpensive fencing boards connected together in the back like a fence. Or you can have the connecting board in front and Have a little bonus shelving! Actually that's what it would be is a fence with the boards either going vertical or horizontal
You could put pieces of felt behind the wood to keep from damaging the oak. You could paint the wood white and leave it or distress it. It would have a beachy, barn door look. The is pretty though, you might want it back some day or for resale value. But like you, I like to paint everything white right now. Take care, Mary :O)

Connie Weiss said...

May 31, 2011 at 12:34 am
I really like the star!

WHAT?? Your husband won't let you paint the wood? :)

Suesan said...

May 31, 2011 at 1:38 am
I'd say you're completely screwed on this one, but I'm guessing that a) That's not really helpful, Captain Obvious and b) You already kind of know that. Will he let you paint the brick and tone that down a bit? I've seen a nice white wash that cuts down some of the red. If your issue with the wood is the warm tone, would going a darker stain be better for you? Men are generally purists when it comes to wood. My husband doesn't want me to paint anything that's stained. I like the idea with the shutters or a larger backdrop up there, but I'd think that you'd have to be careful of the lines. You've already got a lot of lines going on there. Good luck.

Bethany said...

May 31, 2011 at 5:03 am
I can't tell if the panels above the mantel are recessed or raised, but either way, what if you "upholstered" the 3 panels that are directly above the fireplace. That would give you a more centered focal point and be a less permanent fix than paint. If the panels are recessed, its easier to upholster some foam core and stick it in the panels. I'd go for some that had a tone on tone pattern. 2 cents....LOVE your blog. You inspire me.

Impulsive Addict said...

May 31, 2011 at 5:17 am
Umm...why you asking for our advice? You're who we go to for OUR decorating questions! Did someone hack into your blog account?

Ever - The red house by the lake said...

May 31, 2011 at 8:15 am
I was going to say paint it too, but since youre not allowed to do it, I think you should just stop thinking about the mantle and focus on the wall.

Put a huge sunflower/sun mirror there (you know, these ones that are so popular everywhere? There are tons of DIY-versions out there too) which will take the focus of the mantle. Or else get three high prints that you can put on the panels, thereby taking focus of the vaulted ceiling.

You really need something big to create a focus point.

If you still want some decoration, simply put a few, pretty big, pieces on there and spread them out - like two vases to the left, and a little box and a lamp to the right or something.

I understand why you do not like it, but I think you will only be making it worse if you try to make it into something it is not. It isn't a classical mantel, so don't treat it as one. Space everything out, group in smaller groups and use the whole mantel for decoration. Also, the star-in-the-frame is truly great looking, but wrong size where it is now. If you want to keep it, put it to the right, just leaned against the wall.

You mantel decorations are really great, I think they are so lovely! I just don't think they fit like they are on that mantel.

Prudently Painted Vintage said...

May 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm
My first instinct was ohhh paint it white! Darn it! Then I thought get some old shutters and lean them against the mantel. I saw someone else already suggested that too. I think you need something big in the background for sure. Like the shutters or maybe a mirror or a large clock. Hope that helps!

Fairfield House said...

May 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm
I like the room. If you want to tone down the wood (without painting it) consider layering something over it without damaging the oak. My motto is when you can't LOSE it, USE it. You've got a great place to display large collectables on that soffit. I prefer homes that are unique and have their own character.

Sherry Smyth said...

May 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm
I love how you decorated for summer and you've given me some wonderful ideas! Painting a frame over and over -- like so simple and why did I never think of that before?

I see what would drive you nuts about the's just wonked.

I'd be tempted to paint it out to match the walls...including painting the soffit and then it might, hopefully look like it all blends together and that it's not just "stuck" there on an angle. I'd leave the mantel itself as it is, just paint out the wall behind it.

Sherry Smyth said...

May 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm
and since painting isn't an option I like what Angie said about the sutters and "pulling the eye down"

tracy said...

May 31, 2011 at 4:40 pm
personally,I'd tell hubby I'll meet you halfway and paint the brick. That alone would make a big difference.

Maddie Kertay- The Domestic Anarchist said...

May 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm
Totally in the for what it's worth category since my mantle currently has a large painting and a can of pepsi up on it.. but... forget about the paneling panels and go bigger.. like REALLY bigger and wide to center up on the space. I am also thinking that round or oval might be kinder than more angles which make your eye pick out other lines. Also.. Unless you use the fireplace during the summer how about an overly wide firplace screen that then visually rebalances the off center fireplace and then also eliminates it looking like a dark hole.

You have a stunning space.. I do agree about the painting and am not actually a wood girl myself.. but many guys are.. they really groove on natural wood. Yours is beautiful ......ohhh hold on.. would he consider letting you darken it to get the red/orange tone out?.. it would better go with the brick at that point.. tone down the shine a bit in the process.. I can photoshop that for you if you want :)


Junky Vagabond said...

May 31, 2011 at 8:58 pm
Why not embrace the asymetrical-ness and follow the line of the ceiling in your decorations? Completely ignore the fireplace and use the entire mantel. You could go really big on the one end, then step down all the way to the other. It's a challenging space but denial is always the best policy ;) Just my two cents - good luck!


Jen said...

May 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm
I was thinking paint the brick - but then that might make it feel top-heavy. I have mixed feeling about painting the oak :) If it was dark pine, I'd grab a roller & go to it! But then HH wouldn't be arguing with you...

Becca said...

June 1, 2011 at 12:55 am
Looks better than anything I could do!!


Jeanette said...

June 1, 2011 at 2:00 am
Have you shown him some painted fireplaces. Our first house had all natural woodwork and my husband would never let me paint it. The second home had paint woodwork and we just moved into are third home and he is letting paint all the woodwork. Yea! It makes the room so bright crisp and clean. Good luck! Keep working at him. Love what you did will the mantel.

Good Time Charlie said...

June 1, 2011 at 4:00 am
I am with you on threes. Three children make me look just right. Oh, your mantle! I think it looks really lovely, you hit all the right notes. I am with #24 commenter, show your husband some pics. My husband is not a visual kind of guy when it comes to decorating, so I have to show him an example if he is hesitant. Will your husband let you paint the brick? That would change the look dramatically too.

shortmama said...

June 1, 2011 at 4:48 am
I think you did a good job...HH really needs to let you paint it white though

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

June 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm
I think it looks great! I could really see all that great molding painted white. I hope you can change his mind ;) I know men have this thing with wood. I like the idea of leaning something up there as a back drop. It would give it more height with those great tall ceilings you have. Oh and I have that same blue vase :)

once in a blue moon said...

June 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm
love your stars, it looks great~ i hear you on the white, just do it when he is at work :) can't you decorate like a pot shelf on #2 and load it up with cute things?

Tanya @ Greetings From the Asylum said...

June 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm
Nope, I've got nothing.... I thought I did, but nope! I had a ceiling like this in my second apartment. I embraced the asymmetricality of the wall by hanging some large framed art on the wall. I put one very high on the wall and followed the vault down with the other one. When I first tried to explain it to my husband he wasn't having any of it, but once I showed him my plan, he liked it. So I guess what I'm saying is to fill up the space more with bigger things. Consider this for what it is -- free advice! ;)

Michell @ Girl In Air said...

June 2, 2011 at 5:34 am
Well at least you have a MANTEL! I'm always so jealous of the mantel party's and I can't link up..Boo!

I live in WYOMING..I should have a fireplace and a mantel:-)

I look your mantel! Maybe you could just paint the brick white and darken the Oak:-)

You really got a great space...I thought it's cool to have things off center.

Rosario said...

June 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm
you should not feel bad, your room is awesome. You did a great job in both your spring and summer mantle decor. We often think our homes are a disaster instead of making it a place that we can enjoy.

Allison {A Glimpse Inside} said...

June 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm
I think it turned out fabulously!

But I see what you mean... that would drive me nuts as well! If I were you, I would be nagging my hubby to death until he gave in about painting it white! lol But I agree with other people- maybe just paint the brick!

Thanks for linking up this week! I'll be featuring this tomorrow.

Tasha said...

June 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm
Great Job on the Summer Edition! I get what you mean about the angle. I live in a 70's something angular house. Darn angles everywhere I don't want them!
BUt I thank the Lord I have a home:)

Kelli said...

June 3, 2011 at 12:57 am
Now I'm no decorating expert but I like your mantel. I know that you've talked about it before. I love the star and its color. My mantel is bare so I'm really no help, but I can send you good vibes :)...or a picture of Caleb to brighten it up.

Lesley said...

June 3, 2011 at 5:57 am
Be-A-U-tiful! This is so pretty. I have to rob you and take it. You've left me no choice.

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

June 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm
This comment has been removed by the author.

The Answer Is Chocolate said...

June 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm
Perfect for Summer (and your Spring mantle was NOT lame). I know what it's like to be married to Mr. "Paint Averse". Grrrrr...but you did a fantastic job even w/out paint.

sonya said...

June 4, 2011 at 12:07 am
I love your decorating style! And I love all your things on the mantle. But I think you need a big focal point. A big piece of art or the shutters like someone else suggested to draw the eye up and away from the fact that it's not centered. Then a few accessories but large ones: big candle sticks, a large urn, etc. You have a big space there with the vaulted ceiling so you need big items.

Kelli @ RTSM said...

June 4, 2011 at 12:56 am
I think it looks great! Really bright and summery...but the off centered fireplace would drive me a little bonkers too!

Kim @ It's a Crafty Life said...

June 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm
I've got to say...I like your fireplace just as it is! I think there is something to be said for wood trim sometimes, plus I love how it contrasts with the assymetrical ceiling, which I also love. If the wood was painted white, I don't think it would blend in too much, and you would miss out on a great architectural feature. I do think the brick could be painted though, how does Hubby feel about that? Love the summer feel though! Thanks for linking up!

I can carry all the shopping bags and the babies too. said...

June 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Love the inspiration. Follow back at

Erin said...

June 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm
I love the vignette you have put together!

But what if you totally embrace it's asymmetrical-ness? (I don't know if that is an actual word. LOL) Put a huge shutter or plant, something tall on the tall side of the wall...then decorate down with the shape of the wall?

This coming from a total symmetrical decorator...I don't know if I could do it. ;) But if you can't paint it, it might be worth a try.
43. said...

June 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Oh my gosh, I did the exact same thing on my mantle...with the picture frame and metal star. Initially I went to the thrift store hoping to find a frame that the star would fit inside of, but when I got it home I realized it was just a little too small. I ended up loving how it looked ;)
BTW, mine is a barn wood frame with a dark red star!

Kristine @ JandMs Eye Candy said...

June 7, 2011 at 1:20 am
LOVE this! Absolutely beautiful!!! Thanks so much for all the inspiration!

outjunking said...

June 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm
I have always said for me my mantle is the hardest, it maybe I am just harder on myself since it is the focal point.

Jamie said...

June 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm
I'm with you on painting it white. Love the decorations though. Thank you so much for linking up to More The Merrier Monday. I can't wait to see what you come up with next week.

Faith, Trust, and a Little Pixie Dust said...

June 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Hi Vivienne, Thanks for linking your awesome projects to Fab Friday. I want to paint some wood at my house also & Hunny is against it. I feel your pain! But this vignette IS adorable.

Warmly, Michelle

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

June 8, 2011 at 5:36 am
Hey there~ Oh I have a few spots ( or rooms even) in my house I would say drive me as insane as your mantle drives you~ but I think you did a wonderful job with it. The way you have it styled it so pretty and perfect for summer! Thanks for linking this up at Feathered Nest Friday! :)

Beth@The Stories of A2Z said...

June 11, 2011 at 1:41 am
Still stressing over the mantel I see :). You have a challenging space and I think you did a good job at summerfying it!

Mindie Hilton said...

June 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm
I would love for you to link it up to my party that is running now. Any linky goes.

Come strut your stuff.

LrSchwtz said...

June 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm
This looks so pretty, it really makes me miss my mantel. No need for a fire place in Houston! Please stop by and link up to my Share the Wealth Wednesday Link Party! I'm your newest follower!

Mindie Hilton said...

June 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Following with GFC.
Thank you for linking up to Bacon Time. For the first party it was a huge success with over 300 links. I am going to have a special give away next week just for linkers. Thanks for grabbing the button too!

Brandi said...

June 29, 2011 at 3:49 am
Since everyone else has thrown in their .02 cents I'll add mine as well :) I'd use something LARGE and white to break up the wood. An old door? (horizontally maybe?) Could you even hang it above the mantle and then go from there? I'd layer some too. Old door, maybe an old window or some frames leaning against it. The soffet doesn't even bother me at all, but all the wood does and I totally get where you're coming from. Could you temporarily stick some type of white (drop cloth?) fabric to the walls or mantle? - think temporary apartment dwelling stuff, I think you can temporarily stick fabric to walls with spray starch and it won't damage anything. Anyways, just an idea :)

Linda Smith said...

October 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm
I have an idea... paint it white (excellent plan btw... ) while he's out of town. It's much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission! :) Love your blog!

A simple black & white Halloween Mantel » The V Spot said...

July 29, 2014 at 9:59 pm
[…] mantel.  That asymmetrical beast…  that off-center design challenge… that quirky non-focal point of the room… […]

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