Whether your holiday look tends toward high modern or full-blown Santa’s Wonderland, a well-styled mantel requires three simple things: an element of surprise, a little restraint and a serious shot of spirit
Merry and modern
To decorate a sleek, angular space, edit elements tightly, making them pop by playing up the unexpected. Set out in a crisp white bowl, for example, bright green hedge apples serve as a fresh alternative to clove-studded oranges. Instead of hanging garlands from the mantel, moreover, drape them inside a wide-mouthed bowl. And in place of a nativity scene, have a jaunty set of collectible wooden dolls stand in for everything from revellers to wise men.
Products: Pia Wallen felt Christmas Stocking, $65 at Mjolk (www.mjolk.ca). Felt Ball Wreath, $59 at West Elm (www.westelm.com). Vitra Wooden Dolls by Alexander Girard, $225 per doll at Quasi Modo Modern Furniture (www.quasimodomodern.com). Steel Kubus Candleholder 4, $185 at Mjolk. Fine-China Crushed Bowl, $59 at Mjolk. Pia Wallen felt Ballerina Slippers, $85 at Mjolk. Felt Garland in red or white, $19 each at West Elm. White bowl, stylist’s own. Felt Storage Bin, $24 at West Elm. Fur rug, homeowner’s own.
Styling by Emma ReddingtonKristin Sjaarda
Nostalgic yet new
To invigorate a Victorian-style aesthetic, dust off heirlooms and use them in novel ways. Here, China tableware embellishes the mantel, houses miniature cedar and spruce trees and forms a Santa-ready tableau at the foot of the fireplace (let its colour scheme guide your overall palette, even if that means eschewing the usual reds and greens). Likewise, place showy ornaments normally hung on trees on manteltops for a nod to tradition that isn’t fusty-looking.
Products: Large blue and white plate, homeowner’s own. Rona Bowls, $12 at Anthropologie (www.anthropologie.com). Vintage ornaments, $5 to $8 at Hawk Eyes (www.shophawkeyes.blogspot.ca). Vintage blue-and-white bowl, $12 at Mrs. Huizenga (www.mrshuizenga.com). Vintage blue glass votive, $18 at Hawk Eyes. Vintage blue-and-white English China plates, $16 at Hawk Eyes. Blue vase, homeowner’s own. Teal Feather Bird Ornament, $7.50 at Chapters and Indigo (www.chapters.indigo.ca). White-deer candle holder, $24.99 at HomeSense (www.homesense.ca). Vintage blue Depression-glass bowl, $18 at Hawk Eyes. Ribbon, $13.70 per metre at Mokuba (416-504-7318). Christmas ornament, from $2.99 at The Bay (www.thebay.com). White Urn, $372 at Absolutely Inc. (www.absolutelyinc.com).
Styling by Emma Reddington Kristin Sjaarda
Classic sans kitsch
If you’re a stickler for conventional Christmas trappings, embrace tradition and moderation in equal measure. If you festoon a wreath with a red-and-green bow, for instance, save the sparkly ornaments for another use. Horned plaques hung above the mantel pay tasteful homage to Dasher et al. And even the classic Christmas stocking can be embued with understated charm: Opt for creamy-white wool ones that won’t compete with a festive palette.
Products: Wax-dipped pinecones, homeowner’s own. Green Beauceware planter, $36 at Hawk Eyes (shophawkeyes.blogspot.ca). Mounted Antlers, $55 at Drake General Store (www.drakegeneralstore.ca). White pinecone ornaments, $7.99 at The Bay (www.thebay.com). Birch candles, from $12.99 at The Bay. Tall candle holder, $42 at Hawk Eyes. Chunky Knit Stocking in Ivory, $52 at Pottery Barn (www.potterybarn.com). Vintage white sleigh, $125 at Hawk Eyes. Stone garden ornament, homeowner’s own. Rug, homeowner’s own.