Category Archives: Displays

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- Fireplace Mantels

Rustic Foyer

Display- Plastic Boxes

Nature Garland

IDEA- Frames & Staircase


 I never get tired of seeing an entire wall of artwork and photographs, especially up a set of stairs.

(Photo- Pottery Barn)

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IDEAS- Shelf Life, Wing It, Victorian Sofa, The Big Picture, Wall Of Plates, Astaire & Rogers Chandelier, Rug Show

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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Repurpose- Placemat

It’s so much fun to repurpose something. Here a simple woven placemat from West Elm becomes a chair pad in minutes.


Note- Placemats are sold online as a set. But I was able to purchase just one for under $6 at the store.


Placemat, fabric, 2 breadwrapper twist ties and a pair of scissors.


1. Poke a twist tie end into a corner of the placemat. Do the same with the second twist tie.

2. Then take your material and cut strips of 2″ wide x 27″ long (or longer if you prefer). Note- I tore my strips leaving the edges uneven and frayed.

3. Attach each fabric strip (at it’s midpoint) to the twist ties.

4. Put strips through the back of the chair and secure with a knot.

(Styling & Photo- © 2014 Martha Browne)

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Repurpose- Gravy Boat, Paper Table Runner

Historic Map Works

maryland-050-optHistoric Map Works is an online site for map enthusiasts offering a number of area surveys in the U.S and other parts of the world. They also have amassed an assortment of black and white images of old houses, properties, bridges, etc. Many of these are available as prints suitable for framing.


Spring Cleaning


Illustrated French poster c. 1955

Book- ‘Farmhouse Revival’


The American farmhouse. It’s not hard to conjure up visions of front porches, large working kitchens, bathing in free standing tubs, and pot belly stoves or fireplaces to keep the living rooms warm. Think those places are long gone? The book ‘Farmhouse Revival‘ gives proof positive that this much-loved vernacular architecture and decor is alive and well.


(Photos- Steve Gross and Susan Daley)

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Dutch Colonial Farm

~candid spaces~

Carolina On My Mind- Cotton Field, Back Roads

Coming In March- More Fireplace Mantels


Back in 2011, I borrowed a friend’s home to create sixteen decorating ideas for a simple white fireplace mantel. Even after all those, I wanted to do more. I began searching for a similar mantel of my own. This past Autumn, Margot and I were antiquing in upstate New York and you’ll never guess what I found? :)


The new series will be different. If you remember, I was restricted from painting the mantel in the first series. Which was fine. It became the constant in the design equation. But with my mantel, I want to explore all sorts of other ideas. I’ll give you a hint. The operative word- COLOR.


(Vintage photos c. 1900-1940)

Grab Bag- Pedlars Friday Vintage


” Every Friday at 8 am we launch a fresh collection of fantastic-value vintage finds, assembled for us by the best dealers from around the world. Everything here is supplied with a Certificate of Authenticity. You can find out what’s coming each week on our instagram…” - Pedlars

A.P.C. Quilts

q40-five-of-diamonds-quilt-apc-optThe popular clothing company A.P.C. is taking their unused fabric from previous collections and creating some nice limited edition quilts.