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Fall Mantels: I Like ’em Simple

by | Sep 28, 2010 | Decorating Inspiration, Fall Decorating, Mantels

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Fall Mantels: I Like 'em Simple

I like simple and subtle transitions between seasons.

September is early fall to me.

I like to see the warm fall light pouring in on my books and apples on the mantel.  That was my mantel last September.

Fall Mantels: I Like 'em Simple

While I love simple, my style isn’t minimalist at all, but it isn’t fussy in a crafty sort of way either. Not that crafty is bad, it just isn’t me.

The fact that I have those shutters and lots of frames on the walls mean I need to be careful to not overdo the mantel.

So, I just stacked some fall looking books on the mantel and called it good. This is my mantel right now, in September, I know you’ve already seen it a couple of times. I might not have pumpkins yet, but books FEEL like fall to me so in my mind, that is enough for September.

Pumpkins and gourds might be set out in October. I love evolving through the seasons and keeping things fresh. Each month is almost like its own special season that way.

I’ve had that wreath up for two Fall seasons now. Maybe I’ll change it in a month or so, but maybe not. It still works.

Fall Mantels: I Like 'em Simple

Before I painted my shutter green, I had another simple early fall mantel. I forgot to light the candles, but how pretty it would be with the candles flickering! I can easily add a white or colored pumpkin or gourds in October to let the mantel evolve.

Fall Mantels: I Like 'em Simple

I saw this mantel over at Better Homes & Gardens. It isn’t really a fall mantel, but look how simple it is with just one large painting.  By putting a few twigs in a jar on the floor nearby and a warm fire in the fireplace, you get a sense of the season. Sometimes mantels feel a little overdone, so a few twigs in a jar on the hearth can be refreshing. Fall decor doesn’t have to mean orange pumpkins.

Fall Mantels: I Like 'em Simple

Or, what about this mantel from Better Homes & Gardens? Again, it is simple. The little bouquets of orange are just enough for this refreshing and subtle style. No pumpkins, no corn, no typical fall decor, but it is fresh and pretty. The logs in the fireplace signal the season in a simple and subtle way as well.

That is all I’ve got for now.

I have to get back to writing my 31 posts…see you October 1 for 31 Days of Autumn Bliss!

Do you put out all your Fall decor in September, or do you evolve a little each month?

There is no right or wrong way to do it!


  1. Sarah Bohl

    Wow, am I really the first to comment?? I don’t think that’s ever happened before, since you are so popular!

    I love these mantles and your ideas really work well with my house because our mantle is REALLY high up on the wall. I always have a hard time with it, and usually have to keep it very simple because small things just sort of get lost.

    Anyway, thanks for the fresh perspective!

    • Melissa

      Yes, those tall mantels are tricky. Some things look TOO tall on them, and some too short. I’m always struggling with that. I’m still not happy with my whole fireplace and mantel or the tile, but I’ll keep tweaking it over time and see if I can get it to where I love it!

  2. Linda

    I’m with you Melissa, I like to keep things simple. Over here in Aus the whole pumpkin thing is a bit strange… it’s not something we do over here (at least as far as I know!). I LOVE the look of pumpkins (not to mention the taste – lol), and think the things you can do with them are fab!

    But, I think slowly changing and evolving as the season deepens and evolves is a wonderful idea….. a slow, relaxed, connectedness that just moves along naturally.

    As with you, I relate books with Autumn and Winter, because that’s the time I’m more likely to curl up with a good book, a warm drink, and a candle glowing beside me. Winter is like hibernation time… and nothing beats cocooning yourself away with a good book (in my opinion!).

    I love the greens featured in those Better Homes and Gardens pics, and the green apples and cute birds in your top pic!

    Autumn is my favourite season of the year, and I decorate with Autumn colours in my home all year ’round. I’m a ‘red’ girl… every room in my home has to have at least a touch of red in it or I feel bereft in a funny way. I’m just hardwired for red! I also love golds, rusts, oranges… all the warmer colours, and enjoy throwing greens like your apples, purples, pinks and other highlights in for fun.

    My fave pic on my wall is an original print (got it for a steal many years ago) of Autumn leaves in all of their glorious colours and I adore it.

    Hmmmm, waffled on a bit there – sorry!

    Lovely post.

    Linda. xox

    • Melissa

      I love hearing how people in other countries decorate for the seasons. I especially love it because it gives us all a unique perspective. I really don’t like to decorate just like everyone else in our country, so it is awesome that through the internet we can learn from people in Australia too!!

  3. Lynn from For Love or Funny

    I just autumn-ized my mantel yesterday! Now if only the weather will get cool and crisp, we’ll be set!

  4. Becca

    Beautiful! I love the simplicity of it … thanks for sharing! *Becca*

  5. Musings of a Housewife

    Um. Okay, evolve each month? I’m lucky if my mantle evolves for Christmas. Snort. I REALLY WANT to be better about this decorating thing, but I think I’m hopeless. I’d love to see a series of photos of your mantle through the year. Another post idea, perhaps? :-)

    • Melissa

      Haaaa, come on, you can do this! :-) Evolving is simple. Redoing a big fancy thought out scheme every few weeks is what would be difficult and time consuming. Take the summer starfish down, add a stack of books, a few apples and then that will evolve easily when you add a few gourds or pumpkins in October….if it was difficult I wouldn’t do it!

  6. Jess

    I am with you … Sept is still early fall! I am hoping to get some gourds and fun stuff going oh – lets say this weekend! :)

  7. Franki Parde

    Just like those “swallows of Capistrano”…the urge is there to DECORATE THAT MANTLE! I did mine last weekend and LOVE those autumn hues. Ain’t it fun!!! :-D franki

  8. Janell Beals

    The first image with the shadows hitting the mantel is just gorgeous! Really like the shutter, adds a lot of graphic interest to the area, and like your more minimal approach…really appeals to me! Great job! Janell

    • Melissa

      Thanks Janell!

  9. Charlotte

    The last photo is my favorite. As much as I love color I’m always drawn to fresh clean white rooms. P.S. Melissa, I really like how you re-purposed the window shutters on your fireplace mantel. The large cream colored fruit plate, iron lantern and the two little green apples really look great.

  10. Julia

    Glad you could join the party! I’m with you on the book thing. For some reason stacks of old books just seem perfect this time of year. I think your wreath is perfect there.

    Good luck writing your 31 posts! I tip my hat to you for even attempting it. Not sure I could pull that off. :-)

  11. Shelia

    Hi Melissa! Your mantle looks so beautiful! I love your style and all you do looks wonderful! Loveliness abounds at your house.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  12. susan

    I’m looking for chairs like the rattan ones in picture 2. Do you know the maker?

  13. Richella

    Lovely, Melissa–you actually DO what everyone talks about! I love your simple-but-not-minimalist style. :)

  14. Luxurious Life

    I evolve as the season goes. My house doesn’t change much season to season. Maybe I need to get on the ball!!

  15. Emily

    Very pretty Melissa! I love the simplicity of it and I love the walls around it. Perfect! And I didn’t put 1 pumpkin on my mantel. I’m proud of that. :)

  16. Karen

    I do feel a little guilty jumping the gun on fall by setting things out in mid-September, especially since our Southern California weather can be ‘summer-like’ around that time. However, since I love, love fall, I usually start putting out a few small things, like an acorn wreath on the kitchen bay window or plant a few mums in a planter. I agree with you Melissa, books do feel fall-ish to me. I love your mantle with its subtle nod to fall.

  17. Sarah Howe

    Makes me want to try decorating my mantle for fall….. hmmm…. Ok! Todays project!!! I’ll let you know how it turn out!

  18. Kristin

    We’re still not fully settled into our townhome yet–moved in and comfortable, but the art and other accessories are still in their boxes–so I live vicariously through sites like this until we can slow down and put the fine touches on our home! Love the wall color and solid white front/mantel in the BH&G pic. Also like your comment that a few subtle touches is all it takes to get the “sense of season.” I’m a big fan of subtle and simple. ~K

  19. Tara

    love what you’ve done….
    I decorate a little at a time…starting in September!
    I love that first picture…the sunlight coming through is just beautiful!

  20. Nouveau Stitch

    Okay. I can’t take the pressure! I’ll get that fall stuff out of the attic soon, I promise. Still savoring what may be our last seventy degree day so please don’t rush me. I have six long months of winter to look forward to. Gah!


  21. margitta

    Love the books. Books+fireplace+tea=fall coziness. In Norway we do not use pumpkins either… heather is THE autumn plant over here!

  22. Sue

    Melissa, I change decor with the seasons, for the most part. Fall is my favorite time of year, so I get into my “nesting” mode and decorate in a “cozy” manner. Don’t do too much for Halloween, but I like to use a lot of natural elements in my decor in the fall. I change vignettes often in all the rooms. Depends on my shopping tendencies and what new things I find or re-purpose from my thrifting forays….
    I do like your simple and un-fussy style. It says a lot without actually USING a lot! Does that make sense? It does to me, but then I always marched to the tune of a different drummer…. *grin*
    ~ Sue

  23. Shannon

    I like it simple in September too. I tend to add more in October. BUT being that we live in Canada…our Thanksgiving is two weeks away!!! And November 1st brings out our winter and Christmas decor!!! Crazy, eh?

  24. paige whitley

    I got a few good ideas here today. Thanks!

  25. Mimi

    I do fall little by little at home too. Fall colors and pumpkins and all go through most of November so I try not to start too early.

  26. Sharon

    Looking forward to meeting you at Relevant.
    I can’t paint it because it is a parsonage. But I CAN level it out with a new top part. Thanks for the input!

  27. Traci

    I Love SIMPLE too! Love it.

  28. April

    I’m totally with you on decorating for each month so it feels like its own little season. I do that as well, with apples, books, and pencil bouquets for September, little Halloween-y changes for October, and then a more formal mantle-scape for the Thanksgiving season. Glad I’m in good company!

  29. Samantha

    Beautiful! I wish we could decorate our mantel, but we have our TV hung on the wall above it :(

  30. Vee

    Evolve… Soon I’ll be looking for bittersweet. Love that stuff and think that I’ve found the mother lode.

  31. Camila F.

    I think your mantel looks lovely! Love the books and green apples.

  32. Cindy S

    Happy Fall! It really looks like FALL here where I live. I’m afraid we may have an early Winter.
    You can never go wrong with a simple mantel. But, I love the Fall colors, so I have several gourds and books, and leaves on my mantel. My decor continuously changes, continually getting better (I hope). I love all of the photos that you showed from BHG.
    Hugs, Cindy

  33. Lindsey

    Simply beautiful! Our mantle has a TV nook behind it so anything I put up there blocks the TV. :(

  34. Carin

    Growing up in Sweden, you changed your curtains every season, that was about it (which the British find kind of absurd since theirs are much heavier (they’re useful rather than ornamental) and tend to stay up all the time), and added some decorations for Easter, Midsummer and Christmas. Don’t see much seasonal decorating in the UK either, just for Christmas really.

    Since I’ve started blogging and reading so many fab American blogs I have really wanted to try out the whole seasonal decoration stuff though to stop my decor from becoming stale, but the whole pumpkin for autumn (ahem, fall) thing doesn’t quite fit over here. Love your idea with the books though- that really says autumn to me. Thanks for the inspiration! Love the green Better Homes & Gardens picture too!

  35. Arlene

    I love your “simple” style. Absolutely lovely.

  36. Kathleen Ellis

    Hi Melissa~
    At the beginning of a season I kind of add things weekly…I don’t usually have time to “do it all” in a day or two so I add things as I go through the weeks…it works for me! I like your green shutter over the fireplace.
    Have a beautiful weekend~
    ;-D Kathleen

  37. Mackenzie

    Wow! Those mantels are absolutely beautiful!


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