CHI Good Questions: Decorating a Boxy Mantel?

CHI Good Questions: Decorating a Boxy Mantel?

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Janel Laban
Feb 5, 2008

Ellen is looking for some ideas from the AT design minds. She writes: "Now that we've taken down our holiday greenery, I don't have the heart to reinstate the jumble of old wedding gifts and bunches of dusty eucalyptus that have "decorated" the boxy spaces on either side of our mantel since we moved in six years ago. Each area is four feet high, 41 inches wide, and 23 inches deep, with a mirror installed at the back. (The mirrors date back to the clumsy 1980s condo renovation of our 1880s building. I think they could be removed without catastrophe.)"

"I'm not a big fan of most dried or silk flower arrangements. And I doubt living plants could survive in the indirect northern light.

Should I be shopping for a pair of striking, sculptural something-or- others? Should I try to fashion semi-symmetrical still-life arrangements? Aside from the aforementioned wedding gifts, our household doesn't yield much in the way of raw materials; our most abundant natural resources are books and dog toys.

Although you'd never know it from this photo, the rest of the room is welcoming and snug, with cherry bookcases and upholstered seating in a deep olive green. And the paint color is not an under-ripe apricot beige, as it appears here, but rather a warm off-yellow that complements the exposed blond brick on the opposite wall.

In a few years we plan to renovate. But in the meantime I'm stumped.
Any ideas?"

We love the way the books look in the bottom right section - our suggestion would be to add shelving to the top area and continue the books right on up. It would help define the vertical element of the actual fireplace chimney, making for a stronger focal point. We did this very quick, rough photoshop of Ellen's photo, moving a crop of the books into the top areas to loosely picture how that might look (while squinting at your monitor and ignoring the floating rocking chair piece, of course).

That's just one idea...let Ellen know what you suggest in the comments below...

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