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Arranging a Mantel Display

Arranging a Mantel Display

Carey Johnson mantel display
Written by Heather Lusk
Photography by David Sparks
Styling by Carey Johnson

Creating the perfect mantel display can feel never-ending. Carey Johnson takes her time to find an ideal arrangement. Here are her top tips.

The family room, which Carey dubs her “pretty room,” is her place to unwind. She found matching channel back chairs through Facebook Marketplace and painted the cherry trim white, covered with an antique glaze. The mantel arrangement incorporates a corbel and spindles she turned into candlesticks.
  • Start with an Anchor. Carey first finds an anchor piece and then works her way outward, framing that piece on either side with items of different sizes and shapes. “If you can find that one thing you love for the center, then you can layer out,” she says. “Find a good piece that’s transitional, not seasonal.” 
  • Use Large Pieces. Larger pieces you can slip behind your other décor will provide height as well as good style. If you’re stuck, try a mirror or window frame.
  • Mix Materials. Carey likes to mix items with different patinas, textures, sizes and shapes. Combining wood, glass and natural elements adds variation and interest. She suggests looking for salvaged spindles or corbels, mirrors, windows or vases. 
  • Don’t Be Afraid of Change. Continue to rearrange until you’re happy with the final product. When Carey arranges her mantel, she anticipates a lot of trial and error. “I step back, and if I don’t love it, I try something else,” she says.
Topiary and a repurposed shutter serve as part of the mantel display in this living room. The rest of the room is layered as well: At a yard sale Carey found the deconstructed settee and chair now in her living room. They were in good condition, but the fabric was “rough.” Carey removed the fabric and covered the frames with milk paint. Her husband, Alan, added wooden seats that are topped with pillows.

Want to see the rest of Carey Johnson’s Michigan farmhouse? Check out A Flower-Filled Spring Farmhouse to further inspire you! Of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

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