Two Story Cottage

Spring Mantel

Dear Friends,

I’ve held off on spring decorating so far this year.  I’m a predictable admirer of all things bird, nest, and bunny but the instinct just hadn’t come calling.  I can blame the weather but we did have a beautiful few days last week believe it or not.  This week might be another story and with the pogo stick forecast it is hard to make that flowery, breezy, warm feeling stick long enough to spring into action.

All that to say, that on Sunday I put together a spring-ish mantel at the last minute due to the pretty palm fronds that we received at church on Palm Sunday.   It is a minimalist look for me but I’m enjoying the quiet right now.

Sometimes all we need is a little inspiration.








Easter is practically upon us so we do plan to color eggs and pull out the baskets.  Eventually, I’ll probably delve more into the spring decorating.  And perhaps by June the weather will follow suit.

Maybe, I’ll be inspired on Sunday when I get my sweet tea back.  I had more of an attachment than I realized but I have enjoyed the Lenten challenge.   I say that with gritted teeth.

Happy Spring whether it is raining, snowing, or filled with sunshine.





Winter Mantel

Dear Friends,

Winter decorating is definitely minimal around here.  I usually hang a few glittery snowflakes and call it a day.  My mantel was empty for over a week after Christmas and I enjoyed the quiet. It seemed so peacefully unadorned.

For about two seconds.

I then had to do something.  I couldn’t help it.  It went from pleasing to naked in the blink of an eye.  I thought whites and creams would be a good winter palette and gathered a few items for a simple display.

Sure, I would have loved to shop antique stores and flea markets and make the perfect magazine mantel.  However, that doesn’t happen in my world for something as simple as the mantel decor.   Maybe one day.


I love that my poinsettias are still going strong.  They are all I have left of Christmas.


I have to be so careful not to get too busy because of the very wide bookshelves flanking the fireplace.


That is a slightly blurry rooster wearing fur angel wings.  You shop the house and you never know what you might come up with.  She makes me laugh so I’m keeping her.  Mr. C thinks I’m crazy but he knew that before he married me so it is all good.


The glass items don’t show up as well against the stone so I always have to create a little backdrop.  In this case, it was the plates.


I’m working on less symmetry.  It is still pretty similar on each side but it is a start!


The whites and creams cast a nice glow when the sun comes in.  Sunshine is much appreciated in these sometimes dreary winter months.

This will probably stay up until spring or at least early March.   And then I will bust out the nests and birds and all of my favorite things.

Did you do any winter decorating?





Simple, Neutral Christmas Mantel

Dear Friends,

I refrained from really decking out the mantel this year.  I wanted simple which is harder than it looks.  I ended up somewhere in between but I’m enjoying the feel of less.  Our house doesn’t have the cluttered look for once.  That being said, there is still plenty of Christmas to go around!





We will put the stockings up on Christmas Eve.   For now, they are decorating our stair rail.   We actually put the tree in the family room this year!  If you recall, the last two years it was on our screened porch.  Two years ago, Reid was a crazy toddler and we just didn’t want to deal with the madness.  Last year, we had a brand new dog – enough said.

It finally feels like Christmas here!


Neutral Fall Mantel

Dear Friends,

Fall has officially arrived, according to the calendar.  Blustery autumn with her artist’s palette hasn’t made an appearance yet here, but you can smell hints of foreshadowing.  Good enough for me- my fall decor is settling into place just in time.  I adore the beauty of fall colors but I’ve never done well incorporating them into my home.

This year I made an effort to bring more autumn but with a fairly neutral palette. I think it worked! This might be the only fall mantel that I’ve ever truly embraced.


I used gold, silver, copper, and various greens keeping the burgundy and orange mostly at bay. The more traditional colors just don’t blend with the corals and blues of the family room.  That being said, I didn’t want to stray too far from the feeling of fall.


The centerpiece is my long-standing go-to floral arrangement, taken from the hall bookshelf – I added a gold pumpkin for a little fall glam.  It has never graced the mantel and I’m happy with the look. The gourds were part of a miscellaneous collection of fall decor that I had stored in a bag.  I’m assuming they are from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.   The plates are from Pier One a few years ago.  The black & white pumpkin was a Hobby Lobby purchase last year.


I go back & forth with hearth decor.  With nothing, it feels like a cavernous blank slate.  With too much, it takes away from the mantel.  Many things I tried looked too small which is a challenge.  I wound up using a HomeGoods basket with a white pumpkin from Michael’s. The candle holder is from our bedroom.  The copper stand is new (HomeGoods) and I plan on leaving it there year-round.  The wheat is from the Farmer’s Market via my Mom and I need one for the other side. 🙂 Those are my boots with a few mums in the mix.  By the time it is boot weather here, fall will be over so I can get my boots back.


I made a fall printable that I slipped in a frame because who doesn’t love a little typography? Those large mercury glass trophy-looking things are actually lamps.  I’ve had them for a while but this is their first time on the mantel.  I’m hoping to fix the plugs so that I can actually turn them on.  I like the idea of lighting up the mantel!

I’m ready for fall.  I’m a fan of all things pumpkin with a dose of spicy.  Give me the chilly mornings and the smoky air.  Bring on the corn maze and the tailgate food.  We have finally settled into the school routine and are ready for cozy weekends around the fire.

Did you decorate a fall mantel?  Do tell.

Check out other fall inspiration at Sarah’s for the fall mantel party.

Picture 1.


Natural Summer Mantel

Dear Friends,

I’m one foot in and one foot out when it comes to seasonal mantels.  I just don’t love a bunch of knick knacks crammed on my  fireplace.  The built-in bookcases are filled with things so it can easily look like too much. From the kitchen, I have the console table in my line of vision which is another spot with more decor.

I think it is mostly an issue based on the arrangement in our current house.  I am clearly the only blogger around who feels this way.  Sigh!

The last month or so I really hadn’t put anything on the mantel and I liked the quiet.  That being said it whispered that it needed something.  There is a difference between a blank canvas and one that is untouched on purpose.  It was feeling a little empty.  I’m not cool enough or minimalist enough to rock the naked look.


I traded naked for natural and I’m satisfied with the result.  I say that because I’m still not in love but I’m also not itching to change it either which says something.  I think it will last the season without me pulling it all down in frustration.


The nice thing about a natural feel is that it isn’t overly noticeable which I like in my case. I did use more of a focal object on the console table. I’m digging the brightly colored wooden coral.


The oak leaf hydrangea will give me cut flowers all the way into the fall. They are subtle but full of depth.


My diy dried floral arrangement blends right in with the real thing.


I enjoy the way everything shimmers and sparkles in the light.

Do you struggle with seasonal mantels?  Do you change your mantel regularly to reflect the time of year or leave it alone?  I have a few summery spots in the house that were a breeze to decorate compared to the mantel.  I’ll be sharing those soon!


Simple Spring Mantel

Dear Friends,
I’ve been fixated on simple, clean decor as of late.  I knew I wanted the spring mantel to reflect that.  I’m still working on the bookcase project as well so the less busy the better.   I kept these photos cropped to keep the bookshelf under wraps.


Those eggs are from Michael’s last year.


The wreath below needs a dose of spring flowers.  I don’t have any in the yard yet and the fake ones looked fake.  I’m still working on that.  Consider this look pre-spring just like the weather.


The “nest” pennant is a new addition.  I made that on Friday on a whim.



With daylight savings time,  I’m seeing more light in this room.  The mirror really sparkles!

I used the candlestick holders from the dining room.  The boxwood balls are sitting in bowls from my dining set. The gold footed bowl was a recent HomeGoods purchase.

I realize that the mantel is probably more visually appealing without the pennant but I’m a sucker for a little does of cute here and there.  Also, the look wasn’t overly spring without it.

Did you do a spring mantel?  Feel free to put a link in the comments if you did.  I would love to see yours!  We got a dose of spring weather this weekend – I can’t wait for the real deal.


Family Room Update {The Difference A Week Can Make}

Dear Friends,
After my post on our winter mantel, I went on a family room decorating rampage. Adding. Editing.  Nothing changed that much.  Just a little shifting here and there.  I call it the Post-Christmas shuffle because nothing seems quite right in early January.

We are getting there though.  Except for the window treatment thing but that is on the horizon.

I’ve got a blog post coming about a bookcase makeover.  The left side is not done yet which is why I have a graphic hiding it.   I shopped the house to fill the empty hearth.  I like the fact that the circle on the mantel is repeated on the wreath below.
Did you notice my brand new mercury glass candlestick holders?  I finally got a pair of tall-enough ones from Pottery Barn.  Christmas cash is good for little extras like that.
The beverage tub (far top left) is now being used to hold newspapers.
I like that it fills that empty corner.
The yellow pillows came out of hiding.  I like that they bring out the yellow in the kitchen ceiling.
At night, I sit in one of the yellow chairs to work or watch TV with Mr. C.
This is my view.
It is nice to show you a different perspective on the blog.
Everything seems so close from that angle but in reality there is plenty of walking room.

One thing I’d like to see in this space is a couple of side tables.  I’m thinking really small nesting or drink tables maybe even near the windows but we need more places to put things down for sure.  I have come to terms with the fact that more seating is really not an option.

I have to finish the back-of-the-bookcase project that I have all but shown you.  I’m excited to reveal that in full, hopefully later this month.

When you are struggling with decor placement, try looking at things from a different perspective.  Behind the lens is a great way to get a good idea of your space.  I consider myself a student of design and I’m always studying angles and space when I’m eating or watching TV.

Winter Mantel + Seeking Your Opinion

Dear Friends,
When taking down the Christmas haul I was left with a sad, empty mantel.  I kept it that way for less than a day. The rest of the house might be crazy but I feel better with a complete mantel.

I took the “holiday” to “snowflake” in less than ten minutes.   Funny how I some things you spend a lot of time on and others are a snap.

I couldn’t give up my DIY angel wings just yet but I did flip them to the side for a different look.  They are also the backdrop for a few hanging snowflake ornaments.
My Target mercury glass candle holders aren’t tall enough for the mantel so I needed the look to have less height in this case which is why the angel wings went sideways.  For Christmas I had the candle holders up on blocks behind the greenery but now I don’t have any greenery to conceal those dirty little secrets.
The flowers came from Lacey’s room.  I took them out for Christmas because we had some other holiday stuff and “oops” there they are on the mantel.
The candles are originally from Target but I’ve had them for ages.  I love the woodgrain look.  I don’t love the fireplace bumper but safety over-rules.
I’m trying to figure out what to put on my raised hearth other than tired poinsettias.  It needs something for sure.   Tall lanterns?  Pedestals?  A basket?
I’m also thinking of putting something in the center under the mantel.   There is a lot of blank space there and I’m envisioning a plaque or something out-of-the-box like a rope garland.  I’m not someone who feels you have to fill space but I noticed at Christmas how much I liked it better with the extra bead garland that I added.
Thoughts or suggestions from the peanut gallery?
I’m linking up with Amanda from Serenity Now, Donna from Funky Junk Interiors and Beth from Home Stories A to Z.

Christmas Mantel {Silver & Gold}

Dear Friends,
    Did you see the sneak peek on Facebook of our newest family member?  The Christmas season is probably not the best time to rescue a dog but we couldn’t help ourselves.  After K.C.’s passing, it just didn’t feel right around here without a pet in the house.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

The Christmas decorating has taken a little halt due to bringing a new doggie in.  I’ve decided that less is more this year but I’d like to make the “less” really stand out.

This Christmas mantel is one of my favorites!

I will show you the tutorial for the DIY angel wings later this week.  They didn’t turn our quite as I had planned, but when you consider the money I saved compared to the $150+ wings that are all the rage this year I think they suffice!
The garden stool doesn’t usually sit there but I had intended to get some poinsettias and changed my mind with the whole dog thing.  I still might get some greenery.  
I got the mirror from Pier 1 a couple months ago.  My favorite painting ended up in the hall which I’m actually liking right now.  I had admired that mirror from afar but could no longer find it.  I think that was the last one in Charlotte!
It is hard to see the birds in the big picture.  My mom gave those to me last year.  I think she got them from Garnet Hill.  
You probably notice the lack of stockings.  I didn’t want to hang them from the stocking hangers because they are so heavy and I worry about Reid pulling them down.  With a two year old and a sort-of puppy I just didn’t want the extra danger.  I’ll show you where the stockings are later but I found a fun spot for them!  And we will probably hang them Christmas Eve right before the kids go to bed.
The greenery is from Ballard Designs.  I got it after Christmas last year for a steal.  I highly recommend it!  It is very quality and you can’t beat the price (after the holiday).  I’d love to go natural instead of faux but we have too many allergy sufferers here for that.
Do you like it?  Have you done your mantel yet?  
I’m linking up with The Lettered Cottage and Ten June for mantel link parties.  Come on over for some inspiration!

Colorful Fall Mantel

Dear Friends,
   I have missed seasonal mantel decorating.   My favorite piece of art is sitting in the foyer because I really, really wanted to do a fall mantel.  I had to sub out a mirror because the painting is difficult to decorate around.  One day I’ll have to do a mirror count because I seriously might be violating the mirror occupancy code in this house.

Woe is me and all that.

Because I decided this on Sunday, I didn’t shop for it.  
In my head a fall mantel would be full of natural elements.  
This one?  Not so much.  I shopped the house.

I chose the throw as my inspiration piece and used similar colors on the mantel.
The garland was a fun project.  I strung together cork and felt coasters from Target.  
I liked it but it felt like elementary school.  So, I added the bead strands and random pieces of burlap.  

The pumpkins are from Hobby Lobby & Target.  I picked them up last year.

 I love Harry Potter and the books were the perfect colors.  
Ahh. Fall. 
It has finally cooled down this week. The leaves are beginning to turn.  Chilly nights are followed by sunny days.  Pumpkins spices are prominent.  Bonfires are lingering.  Yes, please to cardigans and riding boots. And plaid.  Oh, plaid.
Sensory overload indeed.

 Find your fall inspiration at Centsational Girl

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