A Christmas Vignette (aka Yet Another Faux Mantel)

Christmas Mini Tree via Cottage Magpie

Christmas Vignette via Cottage Magpie

So far, I’ve tried three different mantel substitutes here. First I used the top of my piano for an Early Summer Mantel. It worked quite well, but then we moved the piano out of the front room to convert it to an office. So then I tried the glassed bookcase in my bedroom for my Fall / Halloween Mantel. that worked pretty well, but it wasn’t that festive for the rest of the house, since nobody ever saw it! So this time I had the idea to use the glassed bookcase in the entry hall.

So here it is: my Christmas Vignette, aka Yet Another Faux Mantel.

It’s got my Christmas snow globe collection on it, and a cute little vintage toy train that Mr. Magpie found at the thrift store (cute!). I also put the little mini tree that I usually decorate with old clip-on earrings. It used to be in Rocket Boy’s room, but I swiped it for this little spot this year. Hanging above is my new thrifted Spode Tree plate, and that’s about all there’s room for.

Christmas Snow Globes via Cottage Magpie

Glassed Bookcase via Cottage Magpie

Christmas Toy Train via Cottage Magpie

Christmas Vignette via Cottage Magpie

It’s just a little bit of Christmas nostalgia right when you walk in the door. I love it.

Do you have a Christmas mantel or vignette this year?

~Angela :-)

This post is part of my Christmas Parade series of Christmas blog posts for 2012. To see the entire post schedule and all the linky parties and other fun, check out the Christmas Parade Welcome.

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 bhg.com 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 :-)

Halloween Mantel 2012

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Ceramic Pumpkin on Fall and Halloween Mantel

Remember this summer, how I pretended my piano was a mantel, and decorated it with a big ol’ faux vintage door on there was one that Mr. Magpie built for me?

Well, when we decided to turn the living room into a study, we created one little  eeny-weeny problem.

(Dun dun DUUUUUUN…)

The piano has to be moved. To the family room. Which as you remember has a sheet of fabric thumb-tacked to the ceiling for a wall. So, no dice on the piano mantel.

But I’m spoiled now! I’ve had a mantel(ish thing). I can’t go back! So… I commandeered the glassed book cabinet in our bedroom. (I know what you’re thinking… WHAT glassed book cabinet??? The mysteries multiply! Heh. I promise I’ll explain soon.)

For now, I have a bookshelf cabinet mantel. Or cabinantel… Bookshantel… oh heck, it looks like this:

Fall and Halloween Mantel

Vintage Blue Case on Fall and Halloween Mantel

Distressed and Vintage Fall and Hallween Mantel

Orange Plate and Wooden Kitties on Fall and Halloween Mantel

When I started, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to put on here. I had a few random ideas, but mostly I just knew I wanted something that would work for Fall and Halloween, and that I couldn’t spend any money, so everything had to be in my stash. Some things you may actually remember seeing before, and some you may not. But it’s all stuff I had laying around for one reason or another.

Full View Fall and Halloween Mantel

Vintage Thrifted Barn Painting

Thrifted Orange Plate and Black Kitty on Fall and Halloween Mantel

Vintage Distressed Fall and Halloween Mantel

Orange Plate and Little Black Kitty on Fall and Hallween Mantel

Did I mention that I just sort of decided to do this today, and I’m glad I went for it, because if I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have? This kind of decorating scares me. (Silly, right?) But there’s so much beautiful decor out there, and other than the mantel I did on the piano this summer, I have never done this type of decorating before. I didn’t think I could do it. But I really like what I came up with. I surprised myself!

The Glassed Bookcase Turned Fall and Halloween Mantel

Vintage Blue Case Closeup on Fall and Halloween Mantel

Of course, since it’s raining here, and my bedroom has only one tiny window, I also fretted quite a bit about getting pictures. I ended up stretching myself there, too. I’ll share that coming up.

I also have lots more to share about how I put it all together, and what exactly is on there. (All that is in my post “How to Decorate (ahem.. Wing) a Fall and Halloween Mantel”) For now, I just wanted to say… HAPPY FALL!

What about you? Have you surprised yourself lately?

~Angela :-)

Linking up to:
Sunny Simple Life: Sunny Simple Sunday
You Are Talking Too Much: Meet Me Monday Linky Party
Mod Vintage Life: Mod Mix Monday
Carter’s Cottage: My Monday Muse
Lavender Garden Cottage: Cottage Style Linky Party
DebbieDoo’s: Power of Pinterest Party (also at Fox Hollow Cottage).
The Dedicated House: Make it Pretty Monday
Cozy Little House: Tweak it Tuesday
Cottage and Vine: After Party
Home Stories A to Z: Tuts & Tips Link Party and Halloween Mantels Link Party 2012
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia: Tuesday’s Treasures
Uncommon Designs: Uncommonly Yours
The Inspired Home: Fall Nesting Party: Mantels & Porches

Thrifted Mantel Clock Makeover (Before & After)

Paint Detail on Thrifted Mantel Clock

Thrifted Mantel Clock

Over the summer I did a fair bit of thrifting and yard saleing, but I was too busy to do anything with all my finds. I didn’t even photograph most of them! Now that the harvest season business is settling down, and I find myself with little bits of time when I’m not frantically picking, pressing, canning or preserving, the kids and I finally have time to finally tackle some of these little mini fix-ups.

The kids especially love the little projects. Though they do help with the big construction work, there’s only so much they can do, and it’s nice for them to get a quick turnaround and see a finished project quickly.

Oh, let’s be honest, that part is for me!

Daydreaming about finally having a real mantel this holiday (fingers crossed), the first piece I picked out of the fix up pile is this funky mantel clock I found at Goodwill. It’s clearly homemade, maybe even a shop project, and I just think it’s so charming. I immediately imagined it with white paint, so the other day the kids and I jumped in.

Beginning the Thrifted Mantel Makeover Project

Everything I used I already had laying around. Spray primer and the ubiquitous Heirloom White spray paint. A few tools, some sandpaper (these cool strips Mr. Magpie found at Harbor Freight Tools), and a NIOSH mask. I always wear a mask when I paint because even the slightest fumes give me a killer headache.

First I disassembled the clock part so I wouldn’t get paint on it (to see how to do that, see my tutorial on how to take apart a battery-operated clock movement):

Taking the Clock Hands Off

Then we all sanded it. Sanding is always a family activity, right? 😉

Sanding the Mantel Clock

Then a quick wipe down with a damp cloth to get all the dust.

Wiping Down the Mantel Clock

After sanding and wiping it looked like this:

Thrifted Mantel Clock after Sanding and Wiping

It’s not a perfect sanding job, but since this piece isn’t really going to get any wear or use, I wasn’t worried about it.

Then I set it up in our paint booth.

Clock on Upturned Bucket for Spraying

Just kidding! We don’t have a paint booth. We have an upside down bucket and a back yard. Ha!

I did two coats of primer and two coats of Heirloom White and had a nice blank slate.

Painted Thrifted Mantel Clock

So much better already, don’t you think?

I did a little distressing:

Distressing the Mantel Clock

And then had Mr. Magpie fix up the numbers for me (to see how he did that, and also how I had a mini-project fail, you can see my post How (Not) to Rub’n’Buff Raised Letters and Numbers):

Painting the Clock Numbers Black

Put the clock back together, and it was done!

We took my $1.99 Goodwill clock:

Original Mantel Clock

And made this cute thing with just a bit of paint:

White Mantel Clock

I especially love the little details.

Thrifted Mantel Clock Face Detail

Thrifted Mantel Clock Distressing Column Detail

Not bad for a couple of bucks and an afternoon, eh?

Mantel Clock After

I’m really having fun fixing up all the things I found this summer and finding places for them around the house. What about you? Did you find anything good this summer? Have you fixed it up yet?

~Angela :-)

How to Build a Faux Vintage Door in 5 Easy Steps (Tutorial)

Faux Old Vintage Door in the Garden

Faux Vintage Door on Piano Mantel

You know how a while back I decorated my piano like a mantel? And I used an “old vintage door” for the background? That’s a little picture there of it on the right. You can see the chippy white door in the background behind the flowers and the books.

I have a confession. That’s not a door. And it’s not old.

In fact, Mr. Magpie built it and I painted and distressed it the very same day I decorated my mantel (actually piano)!

Had you already guessed? Do you forgive me?

I hope so! Because now I’m going to show you how you can do exactly the same thing!! Hee hee hee!!!

How to Build a Faux Vintage Door in 5 Easy Steps

First of all, you need two packages of “Economy Plank Paneling” and two eight foot long 1″x4″s. For our 1″x4″ we used one called a “furring strip” because it was cheaper and looked nicer (go figure!). The plank paneling is this really thin tongue and groove paneling that you can use for all sorts of things. We get it at Lowe’s and we use it for everything! It’s 8 feet long and comes in packages of 6 boards, and at our local store it’s $8.99 per package.

Economy Pine Paneling and Furring Strip

For this project we only used 8 planks of paneling total, one full package plus two more planks. So you’ll have some leftovers you can use for other projects. It’s handy for all sorts of things.

So — here’s what you do.

Step 1: Cut Paneling Strips

Measure and cut eight of the planks to 78″ long. For the full package, you can actually measure and cut while the wrapper is still on and cut them all at once. Like so:

Measuring and Marking Paneling Strip

Cutting Full Package of Paneling Strips

Taking Wrapper Off Paneling After Cutting

Step 2: Measure and Cut Cross Pieces

Lay your cut strips out on the floor and interlock the little joints so you can tell how wide your faux door is going to be. You need to cut two pieces from your furring strip that will go across the boards to keep them from falling apart. We didn’t bother measuring, we just laid the furring strip across and marked where the cut needs to be. But of course, you can measure if you want to.

Dry Fitting the Economy Pine Paneling

This works better than just giving you a specific measurement, because your materials may be slightly different, and you may push your boards tighter than mine, etc. etc. etc..

Step 3: Nail Paneling Boards to Cross Pieces

Okay, once you know how big your cross pieces need to be, go ahead and pick up your paneling, and lay your cross pieces down on the ground. Then, starting at one end, start positioning and nailing your paneling pieces on. Measure in from the end to make sure that they’re the same on both ends. Ours are at about 10 1/2″, because that looked good I thought.

And here’s another tip. Only put in one nail each end of the board at first. Then, make sure everything is squared up, using your choice of a carpenter’s square, measuring crosswise both directions, or heck, just eyeball it. It’s not supposed to be perfect, right? Once you have it square, THEN put the second nail in both ends.

Measuring the First Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

Tacking Down the First Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

Measuring the Other End of the First Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

After that you can just press each board into the joints tightly and nail it together, one after the other until you get to the end. Like so:

Fitting the Second Paneling Strip for the Faux Door

Dry Fitting the Economy Pine Paneling

Step 4: Add the Angled Cross-Brace

After your cross-pieces are attached, your door is basically done. You could, if you wanted to, even just use the door like this. For a small project, it would be fine. We thought it would be better to add a little cross-bracing to make the door stiffer, so that’s what we did.

First of all, you have to turn the door over so you can see where the cross-brace is going to go. Then lay your second 1″x4″ across until it’s positioned basically where you want it, but with the ends hanging off. We’ll mark and cut those so it fits perfectly.

Laying out the Angled Cross-Brace on the Faux Vintage Door

Use a scrap pieces of the 1″x4″ left over from making the cross-pieces, and put it on top of the angled cross-brace, but line it up with the cross piece below. Basically you’re making a wood sandwich so that you can draw a line on the angled board so you know where to cut it. Like this…

Make your sandwich…

Marking the Angled Cut on the Angled Cross-Brace on the Faux Vintage Door

…and make your mark:

Lining Up a Scrap Board to Mark the Angled Cut on the Faux Vintage Door

Then it’s a simple matter of cutting the ends on the lines and dry fitting it into the door.

Cutting the Angled Cross-Brace for the Faux Vintage Door

Angled Cross-Brace Dry Fit Into the Door

In order to nail that in, we’ll have to flip it over. It should be snug enough to not fall out, but even if it does, you can slide it back into place and make sure it’s not sticking out at the edges.

But, where to nail it?

Simple! Use one of your leftover paneling boards to make a guide. You can figure out where to put it by where the board shows on the edges. Put it just to the side of where the big board is, and you can use it as a guide to know where to nail through the front of the door and hit the angled cross-brace behind.

Scrap Paneling Strip as a Nailing Guide on the Faux Vintage Door

And there you have it! Construction is complete. Once it’s finished to your liking, you can use it on either side — the plain side:

Faux Vintage Door -- Plain Side

Or the braced side:

Faux Vintage Door - Braced Side

But first, of course, you want to finish it!

Step 5: Make It Look Old (Faux Finish)

Of course, if you don’t want it to look old, or don’t want this finish, you can finish it any way you like!
First I stained it, one layer of “colonial pine” and one layer of “walnut,” then give it a quick coat of clear poly once it was dry.

Staining the Faux Vintage Door

After it dried thoroughly, I painted two quick coats of paint on it — in this case, Sherwin Williams sample paint (which happens to be satin) in the color “Steamed Milk.” I didn’t let the paint dry all the way between coats, I put the second coat on as soon as I could do it without mushing the first coat.

Painting the Faux Vintage Door

When the paint was still tacky, I distressed it using masking tape, sand paper, a drywall screen, a wire brush, and whatever other stuff was around. I tried to concentrate the wear at the bottom, where it would have taken more abuse, and I used the wire brush to make scrape marks as if it had been kept closed with a primitive wooden latch. Once it looked good to me, I let the paint dry thoroughly and added a coat of poly to keep it from chipping.

Distressed Faux Vintage Door

As a final touch, Mr. Magpie added some old hinges we had laying around in the garage.

Adding Hinges to the Faux Vintage Door

And there you have it! A decorative faux vintage door in five easy steps!!!

Faux Vintage Door

Have you ever made something designed to look old? How did it turn out?


~Angela :-)

P.S. I’m linking up to Tutes & Tips Linky Party at Home Stories A to Z and “Fabulously Creative Friday Linky Party” at Jennifer Rizzo’s blog.

Early Summer Piano Mantel

Flowers and Summer Reads on the Piano Mantel

Vintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

I have always wanted a mantel. I just love them, love decorating them, love enjoying them. And every season when all the other bloggers start decorating their mantels with seasonal goodies, I am sad that I don’t have one.

But guess what I finally figured out? Many of the bloggers who put up mantel posts don’t have mantels either!! They are decorating shelves, pianos, cabinets, whatever they have on hand! Isn’t that brilliant? Why didn’t I think of that? All those years of wistful wishing and I could have been playing along all the time!

Well, no time like the present! I have a piano in my front room, and what better place to decorate for a mantel-like experience, no? So, without further ado, I bring you, for the first time, my piano, decorated like a mantel, for early summer. Ta da!

Living Room with Piano Decorated Like Mantel

I love how it makes the room look. There’s still a ton of stuff I want to do here, but even just compared to the last time I shared my living room, isn’t it so much better? I also moved some of the books out so I could have a spot for my pitcher & creamer collection.

Early Summer Piano Decorated as Mantel

I’ve never decorated a mantel before, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. I’ve always loved it when people put old vintage doors and windows on things like this, so I decided to start there, then add things in that say “summer” to me. Of course, I didn’t have an old vintage door, so I built one! Here’s how you can build a faux vintage door, too. It’s easy!

Of course summer always says flowers. I picked this bouquet out of the yard, and it has foxgloves, catmint and Lady’s Mantle. (Lady’s Mantle for my mantel, har har.)

Summer Reads

Closeup of Foxglove Blossoms


I love foxgloves.

Close-Up of Lady's Mantel Blooms

Then for fun I added a garland of pinwheels made from old comics. I love pinwheels and all the soft colors from the newsprint.

Comic Page Pinwheel Garland

Bouquet of Foxgloves, Catmint and Lady's Mantle on Summer Mantel

Comic Page Pinwheel Peeking from Behind Catmint

And you can’t have summer without some good reads, right? Jane Austen is always a good choice, I think. Hee hee. Of course, my fantasy of curling up by the open window with a great book on a summer afternoon is probably not going to come to fruition. But that’s okay. I can steal my reading time at night after the kids are asleep.

Lastly, I added the vintage sewing machine. Of course, I love to sew and hope to do more sewing this summer, but also I just really have a soft spot for vintage sewing machines. So far I only have two, and it’s probably best if I don’t have more. They take up a lot of space. But they’re so beautiful! I love the scrollwork on this one.

Decorative Detail on Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

What about you? Do you have a mantel? Do you decorate for the seasons? What does summer say to you?


~Angela :-)

P.S. Linking up to Home Stories A to Z’s Summer Mantel Party, the Summer Fun Mantel Link Party at The Lettered Cottage, Inspired by Charm’s “Just Because” Link Party and the Best Projects of June Party at Beneath My Heart.