I have shared bits and pieces of the family room built-in wall, but I have never shown it in it’s entirety. It is not 100%, but I wanted to share my recent shelf styling and mantel makeover. Please excuse the partially painted wall behind the TV. We are still trying to tackle the rest of the painting in this room.
Let’s start with the mantel. When I shared my spring mantel, you all seemed to like it with your sweet comments. But, one reader bravely shared she thought it was too cluttered. You know what? I kind of agreed with her. The mantel is so huge, it seemed to take so many items to fill it up. Then I realized maybe a few larger pieces would be better.
I cleared everything off the mantel and started over. I relocated the star and replaced it with a large square piece of art. I think the artwork fills up the space better. The star left a void above the speaker, which I always struggled with. Now the speaker fits in better under the artwork.
The art is actually hanging upside down, because I liked it better that way. It was an inexpensive, $49.99, Home Goods find. I plan to give it a little makeover soon, but for now the colors work well with the room.
To keep the mantel simple, I added one of my favorite glazed ceramic vases to the right of the art. On the left I put the dried grass into a new aqua jar. I found the jar at Patina for $38. It has beautiful thick glass with an amazing glass lid (sitting next to it). The price was a bit high for a single decor item, but I instantly loved it. I saw the same jar at a lighting show room a few weeks later and it was marked $59.99. I felt better about my splurge.
I saved all the
clutter decor items for the built in shelves to each side of the mantel. Most of the pieces removed from the mantel found a new home on the built-ins. With my recent shift to a “midwest summer” theme for the family room, starting with a pillow update, I wanted to freshen up the built-ins.
The round arch above each built-in lends well to a large piece in the center under the light, flanked by smaller decor items. The result is a triangle arrangement with the tallest item in the middle and tapering off to the sides. I anchored each of my built-ins with a large white centerpiece. I love the balance of having something white on both sides. The white objects directly under the light also help reflect more light in the evening when the shelves are lit up.
I tried really hard to group things in odd numbers. Objects always look better in groups if 3,5, or 7. I did well on the mantel and on both shelves to the left of the mantel. I broke the rule on the shelf above the TV and ended up with an even number of objects. In the end, the shelf that does not follow the rules is my favorite. I love everything on that shelf and couldn’t possibly have edited it back.
On the left side built-in, a starfish plate is the centerpiece. I found it at Home Goods for $10. The starfish from afar is a striking shape and up close it has wonderful texture. I grouped it with DIY mercury glass hurricanes, the ceramic vase which matches the one on the mantel, and my West Elm mercury glass mushrooms. The wood sphere is from West Elm, too. The wood tone is a nice relief from the shiny mercury glass.
Below this shelf is a large opening. I am using it to display some larger vases and a favorite family photo. I used the rule of odd numbers here with three brown wood vases and 3 turquoise ceramic pieces. The family photo in the center is the seventh item. The wood vases, ceramic vases, and ceramic bowl were all from Z Gallerie. I used to work there (loved that discount), but unfortunately the store here has since closed. I miss it.
I wanted to keep this large opening simple and uncluttered, because the family gallery wall is nearby. Too many frames or objects in the built-ins would have been overwhelming so close to the gallery wall. Using oversized vases helps me do more with less in this space.
The shelf on the other side of the mantel above the TV is my favorite, even though I forgot the rules. There is a lot going on, but I love the texture. The centerpiece on this side is a capiz shell charger plate. It was $12 at Pier 1. The charger was a simple and cheap way to make a focal point, but it turned out striking. In keeping with the decor in the rest of the room, I mixed in a mercury glass vase and my mercury glass owl, which used to be on the mantel. The bell ties in with the mercury glass, but also adds a natural tone with the dark wood handle.
The glass jars with cork plugs add another natural tone. They still have the natural vase fillers from their stint on the spring mantel. To get the height I needed from the glass jars I elevated two of them on simple copper candlesticks. I am not a copper girl, but for some reason I always find a use for these two understated candlesticks. In a past life they displayed glittered pumpkins.
The most recent addition to the family room decor is the urchin vase. I just found it at Target for $12. I love the shape and texture. It goes well with the starfish on the other side. Together they lend a subtle nautical feel.
This is the wall we look at all the time, whether we are watching the TV or enjoying a fire. The new clutter-free mantel and styled shelves are easy on the eyes. Even my minimalist hubby is happy with the new arrangement.
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heather leigh says
I love your styling! You have been such an inspiration for me in decorating my own home. Thanks for sharing :)
Thanks Heather Leigh!
Sarah K says
Oh I really like the new simplified mantle! That gallery wall is also gorgeous! The art really does fill out that void that was left between the star and the speaker. I think the shelf above the TV works despite breaking the rules because the arrangement is a 3-1-3-1 arrangement, which actually follows the rules (I hope I’m making sense with what I’m trying to say). For the big space opposite the TV, I think the family picture should be hanging rather than leaning, to help balance the TV out. Looks gorgeous overall though!
Sarah, thanks for adding to my understanding of the rules…maybe that is why it visually works. The items grouped together like the cork jars are still in groups of 3. I am learning the rules as I go obviously. You would not believe over the course of two weeks how many times I tweaked these shelves to get them just right. My husband thought I was nuts, but it takes time to properly style and get the perfect mix. The rules don’t get you very far…it is all trial and error.
Sarah K says
I have to say, I’m learning the rules too! I just happened to notice it in that pattern when I was looking at it. I hope I can take my new understanding of the rules to our new place & style the shelves properly. :)
Love, love, love it!!
I love the art above the mantle and the long shot makes that speaker make more sense to me (the one I thought was a vent. oops).
The bottom left with the tall vases and the family photo is gorgeous, my favorite. Great job.
You have such talent and style.
Thanks Fran. Yes the vent-like speaker is part of a larger set of surround sound speakers. They are actually rather nice as far as speakers go, but not my favorite thing on the mantel. The art made a dramatic difference in pulling the eye up away from the speaker. Oh and the art upside down was a decision my hubby helped me make. The piece resembles a horizon and if it is right side up…the sky looks dark and spooky. We much preferred the darker ground and light sky. The artist signature is upside down in the top left corner, but I have plans to remedy that.
P.S. how smart were you to hang that art upside down?! It totally works and makes the speaker blend in rather than draw the eye directly to it. Love it. Love your arty eye.
I usually don’t comment, but I have to say I love it!
Brenda, thanks for taking the time to comment!
Wow! I love your look, and I love all those colors. I liked the red, but I love this color combo! Great job!
RD Shugart says
Looks fantastic! Great job, as usual. Our Z Gallerie here closed as well … hmmm …. I wonder if something is up.
I love your urchin vase! I actually ran to my nearest target to get it, but I couldn’t find it, I even looked online. Was it called something different, or in a weird section?
Rosie, bummer! I saw them at two different Targets here. They just came in though in the last week. They are with the home decor. The newest stuff is all sealife/nautical. Hopefully it will get to your store soon!
Love your shelf styling, great sense of balance, color and design! I am a new reader :) Tanya
You did a wonderful job. It all looks lovely, very cheerful and upbeat for summer. The white pieces make it feel cool and inviting to me.
Love the look! What is the color of your wall paint?
Thanks Natalie. The wall color in this room is Zinc by Martha Stewart (at Home Depot).