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A Very Mary (Alice) Fall Mantel Transformation

September 26, 2011

Today is Mantel Madness Day!  I’m excited that we are participating in our first ever “link party,” joining forces with creative decorative geniuses (which we are certainly not) from across the blogosphere to feature different approaches to the Fall mantel.  Today’s link party is hosted by a couple of our favorite bloggers, Layla and Kevin of The Lettered Cottage, a great interior design/diy blog you should definitely check out.

Our backdrop today is my (by the way, I’m Jennifer from the Marketing Team at Hadley) 115-year old Victorian, home to me, my husband, our four children, 2 labs, and, since I started working here, fledgling Hadley Pottery collection, which currently consists of a few handfuls of tableware basics and a couple of serving pieces I’ve managed to accumulate from Louisville.

I must admit, I’m not much of a decorator, and when it comes to mantels, I’ve got my hands full. In addition to all of its other eccentricities and complexities, my home actually has 5 (count ’em five) fireplaces, which means, yup, 5 mantels, all of which happen to be in dire need of some serious help.

Here are 4 of them. I’m not even going to show you the 5th, because as luck would have it, it’s in a room my handy, hard-working and (he’d appreciate me saying) hunky husband turned into a media room with virtually no lights, which means a photo would be impossible and frankly, the mantel is completely bare, so I’d be embarrassed to show you. Anyway, here are the other four; as you can see, some have received more attention than others at this point.

four room mantels before

I decided to tackle my overwhelming task by knocking off my mantels one at a time.  Well, not literally knocking them off (although it’s tempting), but attacking them with every fiber of my home decorating being, which at last count was up to two fibers.  I decided to start with the dining room for a couple of reasons: 1) the fireplace tiles are a beautiful blue color (wink), and 2) dining room = food = Hadley, which means I had the perfect 1-2 punch for incorporating a few pieces of my new collection into my mantel situation.  Bingo!

First I went where I usually go when I’m looking for ideas on how to use Hadley…to our Hadley faithful, this time on Facebook.  I asked which pottery items you liked to use in your mantel-scapes, and got lots of great ideas: Hadley Staffordshire dog figurines, personalized wedding and baby plates, candlesticks, and pitchers were among the most popular.  One of you was even so kind as to post a beautiful  picture for inspiration!

mantel photo from Hadley Collector

So I decided to use the  handful of pieces I’ve been able to acquire for my collection plus a few loaner pieces from the factory to experiment with.  I spent the better part of an afternoon arranging, rearranging, bringing in pieces from other mantels and other parts of the house (including the basement and back corners of a couple of closets I’m not afraid to tell you), then putting them back.  Nothing was working until I realized that this particular mantel is actually quite huge, and could probably play the dual role of decorative mantel and convenient, beautiful, practical storage for my tableware.

Take a look and let me know what you think.  It’s not perfect, but I’m kind of liking that my plates and bowls are within reach; it lends a bit of a farmhouse feel in the middle of my super suburban formal dining room.  And while I struggled at first with putting a lot of Hadley blue in the middle of the Fall colors of orange and green, in the end I really like how all my  little gourds (I used artificial, but I think it would be better with the real deal) pull out some of the non-blue colors in the Hadley palate. And let’s face it, my fireplace tiles are blue anyway, so there’s no getting around a Fall color scheme with a lot of blue in the mix.

Dining Room mantel featuring Hadley Pottery stoneware pieces

Sorry about the chandelier reflection.  Here’s another angle. I don’t like the angle as much, but it doesn’t have the distraction of the lights reflecting in the mirror.

Dining Room mantel with Hadley Pottery plates, bowls, and pitchers

Items on the mantel:

  • 2 qt. Cow pitcher
  • 1 qt. Pig pitcher
  • Salt & Pepper shakers
  • Stack of plates (various sizes and patterns)
  • Stacks of bowls (ditto above)
  • My most treasured decorative possession, my Lladro mother and daughter figurine, a gift after my daughter Grace was born 13 years ago.  Sigh. Before taking its rightful place front and center on my new blue mantel, it was (to my shame now) hidden away in my china cabinet.
  • A few Fallish type elements, all purchased for very little moolah at Michael’s.

So, Hadley faithful and decor divas, give me your input.  What should I change, add, or get rid of?  I still have quite a few pieces of stoneware I borrowed from the factory store in Louisville that I didn’t use, and I’m happy to keep tinkering, so weigh in!

Stay tuned for the next link-em-up party later this week.  That one will be on Door Decor and will be hosted by our friend Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality.  I totally used that blogging opportunity as an excuse to talk my husband into a big home project and I’ll share it here, and I’m sure we’ll all learn a lot about decorating our doors for Fall from the great bloggers who participate.  See you Thursday!

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