How to Decorate a Halloween Mantel (Tutorial)

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Ceramic Pumpkin on Fall and Halloween Mantel

Thank you so much for all of your sweet comments (both here and on Facebook and Twitter) about my Fall and Halloween Mantel. I’m so thrilled to share that my mantel was also featured on The Inspired Room and Carter’s Cottage! Thank you, ladies!

Now, I’d like to say that I had a grand plan and knew exactly what I was going to do with the mantel, but that would be untrue. I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t even know if I could make a mantel that was worth sharing. I’ve only ever done one other one, you know. What I really did was just gather a lot of stuff together and sort of mush it around until I liked it.

I took a ton of pictures, so I thought you might like to see what I mean.

Here’s what I started with. A blank bookcase in my master bedroom. (I promise I’ll explain where that came from very soon!)

Blank Space Above Bookshelf

Knew I wanted a backdrop similar to the Faux Vintage Door I (well, Mr. Magpie) built and used on my Early Summer Mantel. As it turns out, when I built that, I built a smaller one first and decided it was too small! Luckily it fit perfectly here. I’ll share more details on that soon.

Bookshelf with Plank Backdrop

The only other thing I knew I was going to use before I started was an old printer’s type drawer that a friend gave me awhile back. I had been coveting one ever since I saw all the gorgeous mantels featuring printer’s drawers over at My Blessed Life. You can see some of my favorites on my Mantels board on Pinterest.

Printer's Drawer on Mantel

Anyway, so I added my printer’s drawer. I put it off to one side slightly, because I tend to like asymmetrical arrangements, and I read on an article on years ago that if you make a sort of slope from one side to the other it looks good, so I try to do that.

The next thing decided was that I was going to need some kind of height. A stack of books was my first idea, but I didn’t immediately have anything that jumped out at me (I know, despite standing in front of a full bookcase… go figure). But then I looked down and noticed my vintage blueish-tealish suitcase. It was an Etsy splurge a couple of years ago (only $12!), and it was sitting right next to the bookcase. (I’ve been trying to collect a stack of vintage luggage to put here by the bookcase, but so far I only have two pieces. So they sit there all lonely-like.)

I also had my box of Halloween decorations to sift through, and I started throwing a few things up there, too, to bring some splashes of color.

Fall and Halloween Mantel

All the little pumpkins and the orange platter are things I bought at Goodwill several years ago for Fall/Halloween decorations. Most were only $.50 or $1. The white cabinet door was also sitting next to my bookcase, along with the rest of the little wall cabinet it goes with. The spot next to this bookcase is kind of a catch-all for unfinished projects.

I also had wanted to find my “Boo Banner,” but I couldn’t find it. I posted a tutorial for making a Boo Banner with free printable letters when I first made it, so I’ll just have to make another one.

Meanwhile, the only garland-y type thing I had in my box of Halloween decorations was these pumpkin string lights, so I draped those across the panel background.

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Okay, so far so good. It’s starting to have a “look” that I’m digging. But the middle is a big hole, right? I need something there. Something with a bit of that blue color.

I remembered I used to have this great painting that I got at the Goodwill years ago. I wasn’t sure I still had it, though, because I hadn’t used it for years — the last time was in Rocket Boy’s mostly thrifted room from waaaay back when. (Of course none of those things are still in his room, but that’s another post.)

Guess where I found it? Yep, next to the bookcase, in the lost project dumping ground. Thank goodness for my slight hoarding tendencies!

Fall and Halloween Mantel

So, it looks nice, right? But I thought it looked… bare, or something. Needed more texture. So I added this great half-dried branch of pyracantha that a friend had given me the week before. I also added my recently redone mantel clock and moved everything around some.

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Woah! Too much! But I really want to use everything. I don’t have a mantel to put my mantel clock on right now! Maybe if I move it around a different way.

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Yeah… still not working. Alright. Lose the mantel clock, and put the other things back where they were before.

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Okay, I think this is the best option, but the branch is just too big. Maybe we should cut it down.

Fall and Halloween Mantel

OH yes, that’s better. Maybe a little more?

Fall and Halloween Mantel


And that, my friends, is how you decorate a Fall-Slash-Halloween mantel when you have no idea what you’re doing!

What about you? Did you decorate a mantel for the season? Did you wing it, or did you know what you were doing to do before you started?

~Angela :-)

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  1. Thirkellgirl says:

    Now THIS is EXACTLY what I need to see! You just saved me countless hours of analyzing. I stare at photos (especially the PB catalog, in the bathroom) trying to figure out what exactly goes into a look I like, and identifying the individual elements is still pretty random for me. I’ve looked at your old kitchen makeover photos the same way, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is about your dining room “makeover” with the door that I love. More posts like these, Angela! (I recently discarded an old battered 1960s blue suitcase…. had I known then that people use these as decorating elements I’d have UPSed it to you :()

    • Oh thank goodness it was useful. I wasn’t sure, you know, when I posted it if people would be interested or just bored! Ha! But I’m telling you, I’m the SAME WAY. I have no idea how people do these things! I stare and stare and stare…. Oh yes, and I would have *loved* that suitcase! Hee hee! 🙂 Next time, next time. ~Angela~

  2. Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips says:

    Sweet — everything about it! Especially that little luggage piece. It’s fun to read along as you tweak things so we get to see how that creative brain of yours works. I like the idea of starting with a solid backdrop or two. It makes tying everything else together much easier.

    • Thanks, Barbara! I wish I could take credit for that idea, but I totally copied it from the other mantels I’ve seen. I love it because everything looks so much better and you almost can’t mess up the foreground if you have all that interesting texture in the background. Thanks for stopping by! ~Angela~

  3. what kind of book case is that? also, can you send a link to the instructions for the project of making a fireplace mantel into a headboard. can’t find it!

    • Hi Sara! The bookcase is actually an old cabinet we found at the Goodwill and converted to a bookcase. I’m going to share that project soon, I promise. I don’t have any instructions for fireplace mantel headboards — I did feature a fellow blogger’s bedroom some time ago that featured a fireplace mantel as a headboard — is that what you’re thinking of? You can find that here: Thanks for visiting! ~Angela~

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