April 24, 2013

My Thrifty Tips to Creating a Gorgeous Spring Mantle

Sooo...

did you guys get a chance to check out my spring mantle reveal I shared last week? 
If not... you'll definitely want to so that this post totally makes more sense :)

This is super exciting for me because it's my first ever 'tip-giving' post! 
I hope it helps provide some inspiration to you by giving a little insight into my own creative process!!


I wanted to share the 'behind the scenes' part of how it all came together. 
Because decorating my mantle is probably my favorite thing to decorate in the house.
Ok... so I KNOW it is my favorite. 

Here's the finished product in case you need a reminder...


But it definitely did NOT start out with all these pieces.
Most started as discarded junk... things that were plain & would be very easily overlooked at first glance. 

Here's my major tips when you're starting to decorate a mantle from scratch: 

1. Sketch it out. 
Does that sound weird? But it soo helps. I do it for almost every time I switch things up for the season. It gives me a jumping off point for my design. Sometimes it all centers around something I already know I want up there and sometimes I just start drawing and make what I have (or find!) work with the vision in my head. 

And trust me, I am NOT an artist. Most of my drawings are squares with arrows explaining what they're supposed to be. ha! So don't feel pressured to sketch a masterpiece :)

2. Look at what you already have. 
My first place to go when I start coming up with ideas is my junk pile. I walk out to the garage and just start looking around. I also keep an area where my 'seasonal' things are kept that could be used for other set-ups such as painted doors, shutters, frames & other various items that could easily be used as neutral pieces for every season. Shop your house if you need to and bring something from another room. It's an easy way to get a fresh look when you just switch what you already have around to new places.

Most of the pieces from my spring mantle were 'junk' pieces I had lying around waiting to be used for something awesome. 
Like these cabinet doors: 



3. Go 'treasure hunting' 
It could be your favorite thrift store, bargain area, yard sale or even curb-side shopping. 
Go looking and find something you love. Sometimes the most unexpected things pop out at you and it becomes the 'star' of the whole thing. 
Like the piece that became the star of my spring mantle. 
I found it on the side of the road and knew instantly that it would be gorgeous with some kind of lettering. I designed my whole mantle around it so it would shine! 
But at first it was just a blank piece of discarded wood: 



4. Think about what could be not what already is. 
That sounds like a sappy line from some movie but it's true for this!!
When you're out shopping, keep your eyes out for shapes that you love. Lines that are interesting. Things that catch your eye even if they may be painted in the most hideous shade of chartreuse ever. Which leads me to...

5. Ask yourself questions.
Can it be painted? Is it wood? Metal? Glass?  Then the answer is nearly always yes.
Just because it has a weird animal motif or bad paint job doesn't mean that an awesome chunky frame or curvy vase couldn't become something stunning. 
Try to be open-minded and let yourself think about what it could look like with a good sanding or a coat of paint. 

Check out these before and afters for some examples of what I mean: 


The before: 
2 cabinet doors from my 'junk pile
An unfinished frame from Michaels

The After: 
One of the cabinet doors was painted in a cheery yellow with a while vinyl 'you'
The other door was painted in a glossy white with the Michaels frame painted blue & attached with hot glue. 
I  also added my 'extraordinary' printable from Valentines Day. 



The Before: 
A cabinet door already painted from my 'seasonal' stash
A Goodwill frame (with a plain, ugly finish)
Dollar Store Mirror

The After: 
I recycled my cabinet door from my fall mantle 
 The goodwill frame got a fresh coat of blue & I added my 'He is mine' printable
The Dollar Store frame was painted in the same yellow as the cabinet door before. 
The little cork 'C' was a gift. 


I found a couple scrap pieces of 2x4s in the garage and stained them espresso brown for my chevron hanging. 
Then stenciled over the stain with a glossy white. 

The last (and I think most important) tip I can give you is...

6. Make it you. 
Add your favorite colors, some pieces that make you happy. Throw in some favorite family pictures or printables that tell your own story. 
Add a handmade sign that says something important to you. 
Or just plain makes you smile.
Because it's your house and it should make YOU happy. 
After all, you're the person who will be seeing it most of the time. 


Every time I walk into my living room, the first thing I see is my 'life is extraordinary' sign. 
And it makes my heart smile. 
Not only is it so reflective of the past year but it's a wonderful reminder even on my most grumpy days :) 

There is potential in so many, random things that most people would call junk. 
Start training your eyes to look past that and see what it could become! 


Things don't always start off perfect & beautiful. 
Personally, I love the thrill of finding pieces of junk and turning them into something I love and that other people can love too. 
Plus hubby appreciates it because it doesn't break the bank :) 

But look what a little junk can become: 


Full item list (from left to right) 
Yellow Sign: Painted cabinet door
Tiny aqua vase: Thrifted
White Sign: Painted cabinet door + Michaels unfinished frame
Yellow Planter: Dollar Store (and I didn't even paint it!!) 
"Life is Extraordinary" sign: Curbside rescue 
Chevron Painting: painted 2x4s from stash
Yellow Mirror: Painted Dollar Store Mirror
White Door: Painted Cabinet Door
Cork C: Hobby Lobby
Blue Frame: Painted Goodwill frame
Fleur de lis: Hobby Lobby
White Vase: Hobby Lobby
'Spring' Banner: DIY project (tutorial coming soon!) 

I hope these tips helped in giving you the inspiration to create your own mantle decor (or any home decor!) from thrifted and found treasures. 

I'm still constantly surprised by the power of paint & a little creativity. 
Don't be afraid to try out different things until you get what you like. 
I promise I usually end up with something quite different from my original sketch because I tweak here & there to make it just right. 


It really is so much fun & you'll have the option of making it completely YOU!!

Happy decorating :)




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Don't forget to enter the giveaway for your own Origami Living Locket!! 
It's super easy to enter- click here for the giveaway!
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