When you have a dramatic statement in the main room of your house, it can take some time to figure out exactly what to do with it.  And when it’s an amazing, custom-built, natural-stone feature like this mantel and hearth, the task can become overwhelming.

Nancy B., a long-time customer of Chartreuse & co, was feeling just that when she asked me to come help her make it more inviting.

First, let me know say that I get asked this a lot.  I’m not sure if Nancy just got hold of me when I was in the right mood, or if there was something in how she approached me, but I actually said, Yes, I’ll come help you.  That was almost 2 months ago.  (Nancy is a truly patient woman.)

Nancy had sent me the above photo and some measurements in advance, and today, Katherine & I loaded up the suburban with all my go-to mantel-decorating elements:  vines, leaves, clocks, books (or so we thought), birds, etc. and headed out.

As you walk into Nancy’s gracious entryway, your view is directly through this warm space into the open, light-filled room with the stone mantel centered on the far wall.  The mantel is, indeed, the central feature drawing your eye as you enter Nancy’s home.  So she was anxious that it should reflect the general warmth and character of the rest of her home.

Here’s what we did:

1.  The chippy, green shutter is beautiful, and just the right scale for mantle.  It stays.

2.  The West Elm glass vase filled with whimsical, corkscrew branches plays off  the solid structure of the shutter.  It stays.

3.  We moved the suspended glass vase from the right side of the shutter to the left.

4.  We moved the green shutter from its central position to just off to the left, overlapping the stone and drywall above.DSC_0018

5.  We added the red compass rose at the center of the mantel, overlapping it with the shutter.  These steps instantly drew the stone, the wall beyond, the shutter, and the compass rose into a cohesive grouping.

6.  With those structure pieces in place, it was time to balance some of the elements.  To balance the airiness of the twigs in the suspended vase, while at the same time complementing their color and texture, we added the driftwood sculpture immediately to the right of the compass rose,  slightly overlapping it.

7.  With these elements set, it was time to soften the effect and bring in the finishing touches:  books, vines, jars, clocks.   Building on both sides of the central design, we added a balance of textural elements.


Nancy had the perfect set of vintage, red and black books in her library.  They were the perfect way to bring in paper/linen, add height to smaller elements, and reflect the fabulous color of the compass rose.  The above grouping is to the left of the shutter.


This book and clock grouping is directly to the left of the driftwood sculpture.

8.  And I always like to add light where I can.  With the narrowness (and uneven surface) of this mantel, I wasn’t sure I could do much with this element.


But we made it work.  The base of the charming little lamp is slender, and fit perfectly on the narrow perch of stone.


9.  Katherine and I take a moment to enjoy our handiwork.



10.  The last touch was to add these adorable little birds.  Can you just make one out, peaking through all the greenery?  I love for a mantel to reveal itself gradually, and Nancy has just the setting to accomplish this effect:  When you enter the house you see the mantel from 40+ feet away, and see the overall design.   As you approach more of the details show themselves, but it’s not until you approach to mantel that you find these last little treasures tucked in.

Thank-you, Nancy B. for your graciousness, and being so easy to work with.  Your reaction and pleasure with what we created made the whole enterprise a joy!

Thank-you, dear reader, for joining us on this fun project.