December 2012

Decorating the mantel is one of the things i most look forward to every Christmas.  I always bring out the old and then introduce something new each year.  Evergreens and ornaments are always on display as are my kids velvet stockings which await the arrival of Santa who will fill the with treats before he retreats up the chimney. 

Mantels offer a world of potential for festive holiday decor.  Here is a collection of some of the best featured at Better Homes & Gardens over the years.

Stacked logs and a repeating forest of white trees keep this mantel fresh and fabulous.  Contrast is introduced with pillows, stockings, and garland in vivid red.

white and red mantel bhg


Silver and sparkle take center stage on this mantel where a simple mirror frames an ornament wreath and the family’s white stockings await special gifts from Santa.

stockings in a row bhg


The simplest way to decorate for the season is with greenery.  Bring in fresh garland and a wreath in addition to your tree to add color and scent to your main living space.

greenery on mantel bhg


Gather boughs of fir and pine together into a basket for a unique grouping of evergreens above your hearth. 

simple mantel with greenery bhg


Skinny trees that flank a mantel allow for a less is more approach to mantelscaping where simple ornaments large and small complete the scene. 

woodland mantel bhg


Bayleaf garland needs no embellishment since its grouping of leaves are beautiful on their own.    

bayleaf garland bhg


Woodland accents pay tribute to the beauty of the outdoors.  Combine fir, pinecones, burlap fabric, terra cotta pots, and miniature reindeer for a fresh-as-a-forest feel. 

woodland accents on mantel bhg


Whimsy is one of the hallmarks of the season so showcase it in doses large or small such as these fun Old World stockings hung with care.

whimsical stockings on mantel bhg


Pink tinsel swag and a variety of this homeowner’s favorite things combine to create an unexpected fun-loving presentation that keeps the eye moving from accent to accent.

pink tinsel garland bhg


Who says you have to be predictable when decorating your mantel?  A pile of seasonal citrus mixed with a few ornaments and paired with candles makes a perfectly festive display.

citrus and ornaments bhg


If you don’t have an actual mantel, don’t fret.  An evergreen wreath suspended on a wall above a hearth is just as welcoming. 

evergreen wreath and red trees on hearth bhg


No fireplace?  No worries!  Evergreen garland draped across bookcases brings festive holiday fun to your living or family room space. 

christmas display bhg


How do you decorate your mantel each Christmas season?  Do you use evergreens and favorite ornaments or do you decorate with something new and unexpected each year?



A couple of months ago a friend and I were discussing painting her oak kitchen cabinets and one thing I recommended was to (at a minimum) paint her kitchen island.  Kitchens with both painted and wood surround will benefit from the modern look of an island painted in a completely different color.   

Galley or small space kitchens don’t allow for a work island, but for those where space permits, a kitchen island is a handy surface and storage area for cooking preparation and also casual meals when counter stools are factored into the design.  

Your style of your cabinetry and personal color preferences should always be considered when opting to paint your kitchen island a different color.  Often homeowners choose a serene shade of blue or green they’ll enjoy for years to come. 

cornflower blue island bhg

painted pale blue island bhg

painted blue island bhg

seafoam green island bhg


Since the kitchen is the space where you start your day, consider making your island a focal point in a sunshine yellow or other fresh citrus shade of lime green or tangerine.

sunny yellow island bhg

citrus island bhg

green kitchen island bhg


Neutral choices are wonderful too and guaranteed to be soothing.  Think of taupes and grays or classic black as sophisticated choices for bringing contrast to your kitchen cabinets. 

taupe island bhg

neutral gray island bhg

black painted kitchen island bhg


If you’re thinking of painting your kitchen island the steps are doable and can be completed in a weekend, just follow these steps to paint your cabinets.  A really good bonding primer is key and also a high quality paint that will stand the test of time.  I prefer the modern water based enamel paints for a harder finish, the ones that mimic oil based paint.  Always be sure to test a few sample colors too before you commit to the final choice!

Happy home improvement!



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