March 5, 2013

Fifty Shades of White

When I saw some budding branches thrown out curbside,
I thought that a "winter-going-into-spring" mantle would
be as easy as sticking rescued branches into old white
urns and hanging a picture up from last year.
But, no...too plain.  

Maybe poke some moss around the branches...
...still not enough. 

 What about adding a low "something" under the picture? 
Try the votive holder from Kirkland's (urns also are 
from there) that has had it's dark wood finish painted over
 by Annie Sloan's Old White and Old Ochre chalk paint.
Not bad...maybe flowers in the glass holders would
soften the straight lines...but it seems too stark.

Well, now that the attic stairs are in place, what else could
"Come on down!" and audition for the mantle?
Green glass bottles (mostly picked up for a dollar or so
when I see them during the year) might go with the picture.
Ummm...too shiny with the urns?

Candle holders and vase also with some green?
 I like the candle holders, but vase is too shiny.

Getting closer...try a faux mossy terra cotta vase with the holders.

I do like that but while I was in the attic, I saw other 
vases that might like to "audition" too.

I'm liking that composition but wish that the new try-outs
had more of a cohesive look with each other.  
Uh, oh...I sense a "project" coming on.  

The green vases came out of hiding too but then I remembered

With all these light and happy color items around, the 
bookcases are looking dark and drab...another "project" to do.

Re-work bookcases adjacent to mantle, paint white pots/vases
to not be "match-y match-y" but blend a little better, put 
faux flowers and real greenery in vases and you end up with
at least fifty shades of white in the mantle area.

(I have not read the popular novel "Fifty Shades of Grey"
but I thought I would use a play on the book title for my blog title...obviously, no connection.)
UPDATE...the book has now been made into a movie that came out on Valentine's Day 2015.

There were plenty of rescued branches to use so they
just got to be big and wild and crazy in the urns... 

...and flop over the poster made into a "painting" last year.

I especially like to use this picture at this time of year when
the tree branches are still bare but vegetation on the 
ground is starting to green up. 

The vases on the mantle did have their colors unified
some.  It made this blog post too long to include the steps
used to do that but if you would like to see the details,
click on over to "Add Faux Age To White Pots". 

The finish on the large vase in the middle of the mantle was
already great so it only got a dry brush of white paint 
over the high points to unify it with the other vases.

Some of the items that were tried for the mantle,
 but didn't make the cut, ended up being used to
help make the bookcases lighter and brighter.

If you were keeping count on my fifty shades of white in 
a photo above, there are three numbers on the vase in the 
wire basket.  It was a thrift store find for a dollar. The vase
looked too shiny so it got painted with an off-white 
chalk paint but the basket stayed pure white.  I gave the 
flowers a number too for being another shade of white.

The bookshelves would look a lot better if I wrapped the
books in paper and wrote the titles out...maybe next time.

These items have dark elements to them 
but happy, spring-like thoughts and themes. 

The old saying, "One thing leads to another" certainly 
applied to me from just bringing home some thrown
 out branches but the fifty shades of white do lighten 
up the living room for Spring time!

Update 2015
Since there is a lot of "buzz" about the "Fifty Shades of Gray"
movie recently coming out I thought it might be  fun to
 re-visit this Spring mantle post. I'm sharing it at:
"Share Your Style" blog party (hosted by Sherry at
 "No Minimalist Here" and seven other great bloggers). 
"Wow Us Wednesday" at Savvy Southern Style


  1. Hello Kitty, Nice play on your post title! I don't intend to read that book either.......Love how you played around with the mantle decor until you got just the right look. I love the all white urns and containers and the white flowers. The branches are fabulous. I have somewhat of the same look on my mantle. It needs tweaking, now I know what, branches! The bookcases look great too, love all your display space. Oh, I love that picture, gorgeous.......

    The French Hutch

  2. Fun post! I love your poster print that you added some faux paint textures, I remember reading that post last year.

  3. I love all of your vignettes, but I really love the way you finally arrived at the perfect display for the mantel. All of your urns are fabulous and so are the bookcases. Thanks so much for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  4. Hello there, Miss Kitty! This is my first time visiting your blog. I'm visiting via Marty's "Tabletop Tuesday". First, I want to say that I like your style. No...strike that. I LOVE your style! You're obviously not afraid to keep toiling away it until it's just right. I also appreciate the fact that you like to amass elements to create a cohesive look. I LOVE that you are apparently a graduate of my alma mater: The University of Go Big, or Go Home!!! :-) Girl, those urns with the branches are ROCKIN'!!! This is an excellent teaching tool for novice decorators who think they must buy, buy, buy. Sure, we have to buy some stuff. But some of the best stuff can be "found" or "rescued" like those branches! It also teaches to LOOK AROUND YOUR HOUSE!!! Many people don't realize that what they need has been right there all along!!! Paint can go a long, long way! (I have a couple of paint projects on the back burner myself!) I also really like it that you are not afraid to mix flowers. Some people are. I just think it adds SO MUCH to the richness and texture of the vignette if you mix it up every once in a while! Last, I read your idea to cover all the books in white. I have pondered that same notion, but there are just too many of them! I have reconciled myself to the fact that they are all going to be displayed in their original jackets...and I'll just figure it out from there!!! :-) I love that pillow in the upholstered chair with the brass nail heads, too! OK....I'm getting carpal tunnel. Just wanted to say hello and that I really, really enjoyed your post! Have a great week!

  5. Gayle- It looks gorgeous! I liked it each and everyway...even those sweet little green bottles. You did a fantastic job and it sure looks like Spring to me!!!! xo Diana

  6. P.S. ) I haven't read "Fifty Shades of Gray", either. I have, however, been contemplating using that "theme" (the colors, anyway!) for my kitchen!

  7. Ooh my well first I have to say your blog is adorable! I love all your cute kitty details!
    You really worked hard to get the look you wanted and I love it! I was reading along and said "she needs some plants and greens to unify it" and then you did!! I'm impressed with the work you did to further unify the pots! I love the picture above the mantel too...I love the birch trees and the Annie Sloan finished frame looks really great with it. I need someone around like you to play with the deco stuff, but I'll have to settle for my internet friends!

  8. Hi! Thanks for visiting my page, I always love finding fellow alabamians!! I love the green vases on your mantle by the way. And about my frosting, the "secret" additive DOES make it thicker and easier to pipe!

  9. I just adore your blog! So many great ideas! Just made my own curly mesh wreath from your tutorial! Thank you :)

  10. No wonder everything you do looks great. You don't spare any effort when you start on a project! Love all your Fifty Shades. They're a heck of a lot more interesting than some poorly written books! lol

  11. All amazing and fun ideas. I have to say my fav was the green bottle collection and I just love that print with the birch trees, it's perfect in your room and on your mantel

  12. The randomly placed white arrangements in your bookcases look fabulous with the white mantle! Thanks for sharing your creative process - I do the same thing!

  13. Miss Kitty,
    One thing sure did lead to another. I loved your mantle right after you added the candle holders, until I scrolled down a little further. Gosh, all the changes looked fantastic as I scrolled along.
    You sure a fabulous eye for detail.
    The painting of the bird nest and the plaque on the bookshelf caught my attention before you zero'ed in on them. Love those two items!
    Did you paint the picture above the mantle? Love it too. I painted a similar picture 20+ years ago, but mine is in darker tones. Adore the Springy'ness (is that a word) of yours.
    I'm now your newest follower~Can't wait to see more of your blog. Off to check it out.

  14. I love to see mantles being decorated. I enjoyed seeing your work yours - it looks great! I never would have thought to paint pieces so they would go together.

  15. Wow, your Spring mantel is beautiful! I love the "auditioning" you did with your fabulous pieces ... it came together fabulously! Love your artwork, too!

  16. Beautiful mantel! Love all the whites!

  17. Thank you for the inspiration! I love your design, how you've described different scenarios, posted several pictures, and given a lot of detail. Wonderful ideas - I'm hoping to soon have a similar look on my mantle:)

  18. I love how you've taken us through the "process" of decorating your mantel. I really love that tree print, perfect for this time of year! thanks so much for joining in on the party!

  19. I love the final result and your play on "Fifty Shades". I also like the photo with all the numbers coordinating with changes to the mantel and bookcase. fun post and great thought process.

  20. I completely love your mantel. If I start collecting pieces now, I may pull off something similar years from now!

  21. Wow...where is the LOVE button...your mantel is so how it mimics your art above the mantel...very nice!


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