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Anna G. Larson, Published December 22 2012

Merry mantels: Local designers give tips on last-minute decorating

Fargo - Maria Bosak painted deer antlers red and added a hefty dose of silver and teal glitter before resting them on her mantel. She decorated the entire mantel in less than 15 minutes – perfect since Santa will come sliding down the chimney in just a couple days.

The painted, glittered antlers are a testament to Bosak’s decorating approach: Décor doesn’t have to be time-consuming or new to be merry and bright.

“I really love incorporating things that are easily accessible and around us, like tree branches or antlers,” Bosak said. She co-owns Eco Chic Boutique with her husband, Tate.

The Bosaks’ mantel is decorated with a collection of repurposed items. Red and white paint transforms tree branches into colorful, organic décor.

Paint is an easy way to bring new life to a variety of items, like vases and furniture, Bosak said.

An old window with frosted panes acts as a snow-like backdrop for the mantel. Metal cookie cutters hang from ribbon on lit garland. Vintage ice skates sit on the floor next to a basket of birch logs. Holiday-themed records add a splash of red next to a large “B” for Bosak, the mantel’s crown jewel.

Everything Bosak decorated with was already in her home or at Eco Chic, which houses a growing selection of vintage and repurposed finds.

“Repurpose what’s around you,” she said. “I say anything can be a decoration. Look around your house with Christmas in mind.”

The holidays aren’t limited to red and white colors. Straying from traditional colors is fresh and fun, Bosak said. She used pops of teal with silver, red and white.

Julie Alin, a design consultant at Scheels Home and Hardware, uses metallic colors to bring sparkle to a mantel. Alin incorporates platinum and copper to add warm illumination once the fire is lit.

“The fireplace is really the heartbeat of the room,” Alin said. “People are drawn to it.”

Greenery, like swags, adds contrast to the sparkling metallics. Alin weaves battery-operated lights through the greenery so there are no cords.

Candleholders and trinkets can be stacked on books or pretty boxes to add height.

“You want to layer a mantel so that everything looks collected,” she said. “You don’t want everything to be straight across.”

Hanging winter-themed art or a wreath above a mantel ensures that the holiday theme is consistent, Alin said. She recently used snowmen paintings above a mantel to strengthen the mantel’s holiday theme.

“Use anything whimsical that screams Christmas,” she said.

Ornaments of varying sizes and shapes can be showcased by tying them onto garland with ribbon or string, just like Bosak did with cookie cutters.

“A mantel is almost like a stage,” Alin said. “It can take the place of a Christmas tree.”

Stockings should be hung from coordinating holders, but stockings don’t have to be traditional, she said.

“Stockings are really fun, and they’re almost art themselves,” Alin said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to put them in the mix.”

Trendy stockings this year are Bohemian chic, made from different colors and fabrics, she said.

No mantel? Alin recommends decorating a bookcase instead. Apartment dwellers might not have room for a tree, and a mantel or bookcase can be the perfect vehicle to bring holiday décor into a room, she said.

Whether simple and rustic or glitzy and

nontraditional, decorating for the holidays can be a relaxing escape from the busyness of the holidays, Bosak said.

“I could’ve gone out to Target or Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of new decorations,” she said. “But, there’s something very grounding about creating it myself.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525