By Regular Contributor Eve Curley (@eveyandidotcom)
I have a slight obsession with our mantelpiece. I have always loved them. There is something calming, quirky but also useful about them.
They also collect dust. Loads of damn dust. But that’s okay. I only really dust my mantelpiece because it makes me happy when it looks pretty and it’s HIGH - so damn HIGH above the toddler’s fumbling, ferocious and funky food-covered fingertips. Dusting the mantel is therapy. Who really dusts properly anyway? The dust you dust just dusts its fluff over the floors anyway, or flops off the duster onto another landing spot only to appear into a larger clump of dust when the sun shines in while having a cuppa with the in-laws. Meh.
Tonight the Mini Munchkin thought it would be a good idea to see her broccoli and peas flying through the air. It was squished green mushy mush madness throughout our household. She stuck Peppa Pig stickers all over the kitchen cupboards (not on-trend) and cackled with an evil look in her eye as she ripped apart baby wipes and scattered them like confetti in the clean washing.
This never happens on my mantel, it is perfect.
The relationship between myself and old Ms Mantel (yep I’ve named her. She is a friend) has not always been fresh roses and fancy bookends. When we decided to buy our house I was convinced the big old ugly rock wall in the lounge area would be demolished. Ms Mantel also had to go. Hubby actually moved our entire ‘two-person unit-life’ into our first home. I was interstate for a wedding so he moved us in with help from family and friends.
Enter selfish me one day back from interstate. I hated it. The house smelt funny, it was bare and uninviting. Oh sorry…except for a TV, play station, ugly beanbag and some empty beer cans. I mean, what else did he need in the weekend bachelor bad? I lost my sh*t after the poor guy had moved our entire lives into the house. Then I felt bad.
Enter Mum with some blooms, some candles and a cup of tea. When marking your territory in a new ‘old’ house (that could even possibly be haunted…ours definitely is…that’s another blog, for another time) it is amazing what some fresh scents can achieve. I pulled myself together and started thinking about what amazing styling I could get stuck into and immerse myself in.
Challenge one was the lounge area which featured THE MANTEL. I must point out we have been renovating very gradually on a budget. Our house is not a real wreck (it just needs work) and we can start cosmetically before we start knocking walls out and getting our hard hats on.
The feature of the lounge room is our rock wall and mantel. It took me days, weeks actually… to embrace it. I wanted it covered, but as we started to furnish we found ways we could, well, ‘make it trendy”. We found a dining room table with a stone insert that complemented perfectly and then the comments started coming. “It is such a feature”. I liked my feature wall and mantel. We had become friends.
Hubby varnished the mantle and we painted. We made the old fireplace into a cabinet and the TV was mounted above. Modern tech meets mantelpiece mystique!
When I was a little girl I used to love trawling through old photo albums at my Grandparents and asking questions about the photos, vases or trinkets on the mantel while listening to their stories. The mantel was a mini stage. When making your house a home I find the nooks and crannies are all part of the story.
My slight OCD ways of rearranging the mantle means I spend Isla’s entire nap time fossicking and sometimes I find myself staring, procrastinating and wondering if it is too cluttered at midnight. Hubby quite often questions the amount of books and whether I’ve actually read them. “Most I say, most…well, at least a chapter”. But really the colours just work in the space.
Here are my top tips and advantages of embracing the mantelpiece if you want one, or are wondering what the hell to do with one:
- Mantelpiece’s are high – high and away from little munchkin’s who can destroy wedding gifts in an instant.
- It can always look neat. Except when someone wants to look at a book you have on display. You idiot, I don’t read them, they are just for display!
- There is something about a flickering candle on a mantel. It seems right. It works.
- Mantels are actually shelves. You can have your fave framed print against the wall, you don’t need hooks. WINNING.
- Mantels are great for decorating. Buntings, baubles, sparkly stuff….bring it on.
- A Mantel can be your blank canvas, your stage. Decorate it, change it up. Make it your own. Tell a story, even if it is slightly exaggerated.
I hope there are some more ‘manic mantel mums’ out there. Maybe it is just me, myself and my mantel. Trust me, they have major appeal just with a single rose from your garden and some inspirational words on a simply framed print. If you don’t have one, build one. You won’t regret it.