Category Archives: Decorating@Nibs- Series Of Fireplace Mantels

Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

Over the years, I’ve collected quite a few painted portraits with no idea who the subjects are. They ended up with imaginary names. A few months ago, some friends and I went to a local estate sale. I came home with a wooden chair, two brass candle stick holders and yes… another portrait. This dapper fellow was promptly named Mr. Moore.

Fireplace Mantel #21- Mister Moore




1. Cover walls with old drop cloths (detail below right). I suggest using a heavy-duty stapler for this job. Start at the ceiling and work down to the baseboard. Cut any extra fabric off. Side note- You could try stapling the drop cloths at the ceiling and just let them hang loose to the floor.


2. Prime and paint base molding Benjamin Moore Jackson Tan HC-46 (detail above left).

3. Prime and paint mantel Benjamin Moore English Ochre CW-290 (detail above center).


4. Mantel Accessories- My portrait of Mister Moore takes center stage. To make it even more interesting, I flipped him upside down. Stacks of old books, cigar box, dried bittersweet, glass vase with daylilies, deer antlers and antique nails are with it.


5. Other- Old cloth-covered cord pendant light, wire glove dryer, vintage folding carpenter’s ruler, oak chair with leather seat c. 1900 and kilm loom pillow.


(Photos & Styling- © 2014 Martha Browne)

Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

For this latest mantel idea, I decided to go with a dark navy blue. It’s the perfect backdrop color to showcase a carefully edited grouping of collectibles.

Fireplace Mantel #20- Going Dark



1. The fireplace mantel, walls and trim all got the same treatment-  a base coat of black (Benjamin Moore PM) and a finished coat of navy blue (custom mix). Instead of a roller, I used a brush. Yes…it does take longer, but the results are so much better. It allows for texture and blending of colors that you just can’t get with a roller.


2. Several sheets of blue and white delft tile wrapping paper (similar) covers the firebox.


3. Mantel Accessories- Less is definitely more. An antique frame with an old photo taped in the center hangs above the mantel. The shelf holds two vintage teapots (the red one is from Hall China c. 1940 and the other from Burleigh), a blue/white planter and a wooden lamp base made by my father. Punches of red makes the display eye-catching.


4. Other- Fireplace tools with brass handles and a stump painted red.

(Photos & Styling- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Fireplace Mantels- #17 Colorful Colonial (left), #18 A Botany Lesson (middle) & #19 A Sewing Nook (right)

Sixteen Fireplace Mantels

Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

My grandmother was an avid sewer and she had my grandfather build a small workplace in the corner of their living room. It was so small, she was just able to squeeze in a table, small chest and chair. As a child, I remember how much I loved standing beside her while she worked.

Fireplace Mantel #19- A Sewing Nook


A fireplace mantel can be the perfect piece to help create a cozy sewing nook.



1. The fireplace mantel remains the same mossy green (Benjamin Moore #434) I picked out last time. But baseboard trim was changed from dark blue to match the green.


2. I’m a big fan for covering walls with fabric. This green rose print is from Joann’s and has a great 1940s look to it. Side Note- That lamp shade is covered in the same print but in red.


3. Mantel Accessories- I skipped the idea of making a design statement here. This display is all about things that are sentimental. Steiff teddy bear c. 1940s, antique needlepoint, old portrait, plate, tubes of paint in B-mug, metal calendar, basket of dried baby’s breath, vintage toy bike, metal hanger, dollhouse chair, collection of dice, books, frame, wooden Dutch shoes, glass, metal holder with paper flower, etc.


4. Other- Antique sewing machine, enamel top table, chair, floor lamp c. 1920s, sewing cabinet (family heirloom), vintage child’s dress, container of thread and assorted pictures.


(Styling & Photos- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Fireplace Mantels-#17 Colorful Colonial (left) #18 A Botany Lesson (right)

Sixteen Fireplace Mantels

Fashion Character Card #9

Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

Fireplace Mantel #18- A Botany Lesson


It always amazes me how color and texture can change the whole feel of a room or this case the whole feel of a fireplace mantel. My historical mantel went from yellow-gold to a bright mossy green. And what a difference!



1. Cover walls with this fabric from Ikea. Here’s how. You can either- a. Prep walls with a special sealer and spread on a paste that’s made for fabric. b. Furring strips (thin pieces of wood) are spaced (fabric width) and nailed to the wall. Then you shoot staples through the fabric into the strips. c. The easiest method is to use a staple gun and shoot directly into the plaster/lathe or sheetrock.

Apply natural objects to the fabric walls (pressed flowers, leaves, nests, sea shells, insects,etc.) with small nails and/or hot glue.


2. Paint trim with Behr (at Home Depot) in a custom mix that matches the fabric background.


3. Prime and paint fireplace mantel Benjamin Moore #434. Next carefully cover the mantel shelf with sheet moss held in place with staples. Side Note- Another idea is to wrap the mantel completely in moss.


4. Mantel Accessories- Crane claw bookends, books, bell jar, postcard, turtle shell, animal skull, rocks, seed pods and dried plant clipping.


5. Other- Antique woven chair, paper wasp nest, binoculars and a stone vase that holds my great-grandmother’s walking stick.


(Styling & Photos- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Decorating@Nibs- More Fireplace Mantels

I enjoyed decorating a friend’s simple old mantel that I went hunting for one like it. After months of searching, I came across a mantel that was perfect for my new series on color. Now let’s have some fun and decorate!

Fireplace Mantel #17- Colorful Colonial


Inspiration for this mantel came from the Peter Wentz House in Worcester, PA  c. 1758. The bold color and sponged dots are part of the house’s  intriguing decoration.


I picked out Benjamin Moore paint colors that I felt were close matches- Stuart Gold (fireplace mantel), Black PM (trim & dots) and Simply White (walls). I suggest either a flat or pearl finish.



1. Prime and paint walls white.

2. To mimic the black dots, I used a sea sponge. Keep in mind, a sponge makes the dot shapes imperfect and that’s what you want. To do- Take your sea sponge and cut it in half. The uncut portion will be the part you dip in the paint. Pour a small amount of black paint into a pie pan. Then lightly coat the sponge. You may want to practice sponging the dots (2″ diameter) on some newspaper. You can measure and mark the walls with a pencil as to where to sponge (space 9″ to 12″ apart) or apply the dots freely…stepping back periodically to see where you need them.


3. Paint base molding black. I’ve read this was a common practice because of dirt. Side note- In a room setting, window trim would be painted gold.


4. Prime and paint fireplace mantel gold.


5. Mantel Accessories- Hand carved tray holds fresh pears, framed rooster needlepoint c. 1930s, black silhouette rooster cutting board, old metal spring with feather, iron hook, vintage dust broom, cut paper and antique crock.


6. Other- Amish straw hat, candle holder, candle, muck boots, redware bowl, antique barrel, chair and hand-loomed rag rug.

(Styling & Photos- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Decorating@Nibs- 16 Fireplace Mantels

A Bright Future- Yellow

My Imaginary Magazine Cover- Elle Decor


I know…not quite the imaginary cover you were expecting. I just couldn’t resist tweaking one of my photos into this Elle Decor business reply card.

(Photo- Martha B.)

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Decorating@Nibs- 16 Fireplace Mantels

Decorating@Nibs- 16 Fireplace Mantels

I hope you enjoyed this first segment of Decorating@Nibs showing one fireplace mantel made over sixteen different ways. It was fun coming up with all these displays. Remember you aren’t limited to what I’ve done here. Pick out a few ideas and combine them to create your own design. Click images to enlarge.

(Styling & photos- Martha B.)

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Decorating@Nibs Series

Decorating@Nibs- Fireplace Mantels

What a stroke of luck! Just when I thought I was done with the series on fireplace mantels I got a call from the homeowners letting me back into their place for a few weeks. So…I put the ideas for place settings on hold and picked up where I left off in early June.

Fireplace Mantel #16- Toile de Jouy

One of my favorite fabrics is traditional Toile de Jouy. This is the type of print that can do it all- from walls to bed to furniture. For this display I even made a Toile mantel skirt highlighted by black ribbon.

1. Classic Toile de Jouy fabric from Joann’s

2. Eighteenth century print in the original frame

3. Glass urns filled to the brim with hydrangea

4. Staffordshire ceramic spaniels c. 1880-90 (these are my grandmother’s)

5. Book

6. This is the very same chair that appeared in my first mantel idea…only now it’s hidden beneath a Toile slipcover.

The hatbox is antique whereas the hat is a reproduction.

(Styling & photos- Martha B.)

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Decorating@Nibs Series

Decorating@Nibs- Fireplace Mantels

What a stroke of luck! Just when I thought I was done with the series on fireplace mantels I got a call from the homeowners letting me back into their place for a few weeks. So…I put the ideas for place settings on hold and picked up where I left off in early June.

Fireplace Mantel #15- A Hippie Vibe

While shopping at Joann’s I came across their pre-cut fabric samples used for quilting. Before I knew it, I had collected a dozen or more floral prints with the idea of decorating the wall with them.

1. Most fabrics from Joann’s. Others are from my stash.

2. Antique framed needlework

3. Basket

4. Vase with baby’s breath

5. Butterfly is from my own collection.

6. Assorted bottles…(large one is from Anthropologie & the other two are from my dad)

7. Feathers were found on my parents’ old farm in upstate New York

8. House plants

9. I got this old wooden trunk at an Antiques store that’s now closed. The cost? $10.

10. Paperback books, yellow mug (ebay) and bird’s cage (local consignment shop)

11. & 12. Vintage record albums and c. 1969 guitar

The rag rug came from Ikea.

A peek at next week’s mantel!

(Styling & photos- Martha B.)

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Decorating@Nibs- Fireplace Mantels

What a stroke of luck! Just when I thought I was done with the series on fireplace mantels I got a call from the homeowners letting me back into their place for a few weeks. So…I put the ideas for place settings on hold and picked up where I left off in early June.

Fireplace Mantel #14- Retro Christmas

The basis for this mantle design started when I saw these glass globes at West Elm. I couldn’t help but envision them as small dioramas showing winter scenes. I bought two…

…and filled them with sugar snow, HO scaled model pine trees, deer & figures. After that the rest of the display fell into place.

1. Fabric wallcovering (similar at Joann’s)

2. Vintage set of deer antlers is affixed to a wooden plaque.

3. Collection of Christmas cards c. 1930-1940

4. Old glass ornaments are from my husband’s family.

5. I bought this lone antler from a shop in New York state.

6. Container Store solid blue wrapping paper & red ribbon

7&8. Glass globes available at West Elm. Figures are from here and here.

9. West Elm also had a bunch of these garlands for sale. They look a lot like a paper chain but they’re actually made of wood shavings. Unfortunately, they’re sold out online. Check individual stores to see if they have any left.

The stool is from Ikea.

A peek at next week’s mantel!

(Styling & Photos- Martha B.)

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