Entertaining, Holiday, Seasonal

9 Inspiring Holiday Mantles

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I may not start decorating for Christmas until mid-December, but early on I am gathering ideas from the beautiful sources available to us in Newport. Even I, who have seen these for 30 years, find myself transfixed by the grandeur and detail of the craftsmanship. The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff are even more awe inspiring  at Christmas. Taking a welcome break from the To Do lists, I visited these neighbors at different times of the day, hoping to capture just the right light to present them at their best. These are some of the inspirations that caught my attention this year. As you’ll see, I’m somewhat partial to mantles for their small area can represent an entire decorating concept that is both inspiring and achievable. Enjoy!

For this gardener, topiaries are a simple and effective way to transition from garden to Christmas. And any color or decorations you may choose will always coordinate with their deep greens.

I was actually surprised to find this decoration at formal Marble House (in an upstairs, back guest room).  But it is a welcome take on a popular theme —  the great outdoors, rustic, woodsy — with a sophisticated twist, set off by a bit of chartreuse.

Decorating around existing features is something many of us have to consider. Here in the billiard room at Marble House, they have taken full advantage of the mantle’s stone plinths to create a pair of obelisks that are scaled to the grand height of this room…and yet not compete with the varied marble wall and painted ceiling details.

Each year, candles play a bigger part in the decor of our homes; I am, therefore,  always on the look out for new ways to style this favorite accessory. Massing them on their own stands, in varying heights, in a knock out shade of red (paired with ornaments that are included in the vignette) is one take-away from my scouting this season.

And when your mantle is just too elaborate for decorations, there is always that old standby, poinsettias.

If one of the cardinal tips for holiday decorating is to take inspiration from your own rooms, this is an example that shows less can be more when faced with an all over, large-scaled wall covering…and a formal mantle.

It is the elegant simplicity of this scene that captured me. The rusty-red hydrangeas that pick up  the same shade in the marble, the matte gold, but still sparkly trees, the gilt snowflakes. And the pair of gilded bucks (perhaps inspired by the real ones traipsing across our lawns…even here in Newport).

Having a particular affection for taffeta draperies…and a fireplace squaring off the corner of a room…I wanted to close with this so feminine and diminutive vignette. Understated, with just enough gilt and ormolu to warm the scene, and then throw a bit of caution to the wind by making the (bad luck) eye of the peacock the centerpiece of the feather and ribbon decoration.


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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

2 thoughts on “9 Inspiring Holiday Mantles

  1. BEAUTIFUL…………Now if I could just move THE PIGGY’s bed from in front of the FIRE place!!!Yes, I have a PET PIGGY who sleeps indoors!!!!!!!

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