Archive of ‘NEST’ category

How to Decorate a Wickedly Beautiful Halloween Mantel

Tips for decorating a wickedly beautiful mantel for Halloween -- Often Charming

Pumpkins, black cats, witches and ghosts…combine the fun of a little scare with all the crisp, colorful delights of Fall, and Halloween is the perfect time to start getting festive around the house.

Fall is my absolute favorite season, so when September rolls around we try to help usher the hot Texas summer out by hanging garlands of golden leaves and piling up fat pumpkins. I hang our Fall wreath on the door hoping that will somehow bring the cool weather here a little faster. I know it seems silly, but after weeks and weeks of hundred-degree days, we are ready for the changing of the leaves and all of the fun that signifies the start of the holiday season.

The fireplace mantel is the centerpiece of our living room, and decorating it really sets the tone for the holidays in our home. I like to use a few unexpected, non-traditional items when decorating the mantel for Halloween.  It keeps things affordable and gives you a unique and beautiful result.

Here is our mantel from last year.

Tips for creating a sparkling, spooky Halloween mantle -- Often Charming

I had a simple formula for this mantel: Color, Texture, Shine. Yes, I stuck to the well-known rule of arranging everything into a kind of triangle with the peak in the center, as well, but the most important thing to remember for beautiful spookiness is: Color, Texture, Shine.

Color, texture, and shine create a sparkling, spooky Halloween mantle -- Often Charming

Color: Pumpkins, leaves, books, strips of tulle, artwork/frame

Texture: Cheesecloth, tulle strips, leaves, raven feathers

Shine: Mirror, mercury glass, candelabra, vase, stars on tulle, foil on books

Pumpkins are mandatory. (This one is ceramic and I bought it at Hobby Lobby several years ago. It comes out every Halloween.) I like the Fall leaves for the color they add, running the length of the mantel and anchoring either end in silver vases (more shine!). The ratty, ripped cheesecloth is classic Halloween, adding fun texture and creepiness. The mirror, mercury glass owl, candelabra and black tulle really bring the magic; their sparkle attracts your eye and offsets all of the dark elements.

Confession: The tulle strips are actually fabric scraps I had leftover from a tutu I made for a friend’s daughter! They get bonus points here because they add color, texture AND shine. The metallic gold stars on the black background are just a bit witchy in combination with the rest of the mantel. The tarnished candelabra gives height to the arrangement and offers the perfect perch for a faux raven. Real and fake books do double duty by raising up smaller objects while encouraging you to come a just little closer, dearie, to have a better look.

The artwork in the center is one of my favorite pieces; it was a free printable! I put it in a black frame I had lying around, removed the glass and called it good.

Nothing I used is too perfect. In fact, some of these things are a bit battered and rough, and that is actually preferable! That poor raven has been in my box of Halloween stuff for YEARS. His feathers are scraggly and he only has one eye. Perfect. Ditto the candelabra. It’s all tarnished and nasty. Excellent! I like it with no candles, but black ones would be fun, too.

Cast your spell for a wickedly beautiful Halloween mantle with three magic ingredients: Color, Texture, and Shine -- Often CharmingThe mirror and the owl live on our mantel all year long, but they take on a decidedly dark quality thanks to the cheesecloth draped over them. That cheesecloth has seen a lot of Halloweens at our house, too. Buy a package at your local grocery store, cut holes in it with your scissors, rip and pull and wrinkle it up until it’s marvelously mummy-like. It’s easy and fun! The kids will have a ball helping you out.

The Magic and Poison “books” are actually storage boxes I picked up at Michael’s last year. The gilded one leaning against the artwork reads, “Paris” on the spine, but it went along with the rest perfectly and cost less than $1 so I put it in, too.

Paris can be spooky, right? It’s quite haunted, isn’t it? Sure!

The black leather volume of Edgar Allen Poe is real, and ridiculously right for this arrangement. I’ve had it forever. In it goes.

Draping the tulle and cheesecloth haphazardly and putting the books at odd angles adds more interest and ups the creepy factor.

Scrounge around in your craft supplies, garages, bookshelves, china cabinets and sewing boxes for would-be decorations. You might be surprised at what you can use, and the price is certainly right!

Then you have more money for candy.

Set a spooky and spectacular tone in your home by mixing it up on your mantlepiece -- Often CharmingHappy Haunting.



Heather's Signature -- Often Charming


Add Style to Your Home With Orchids

Easy-care orchids add style and an element of the unexpected to your home.  --  Often Charming

I recently gave a friend a tiny potted orchid to brighten her craft room, partly because she has admired my own orchids but also because she has always sworn she can’t keep a plant alive and I know she can totally handle this one.  Orchids are really very easy houseplants, however exotic and intimidating they might seem. Find them a spot they like, water and feed once per week–easy! Most orchids like bright, indirect light. I have one on a windowsill facing east that gets a bit of bright morning sun and indirect light the rest of the day, which has been just right for it.

Plants add great texture and interest to your decor, and orchids are a fun way to add a little something unusual, too. There are thousands of varieties, offering flowers in many different colors, sizes and shapes. They are low-maintenance but look super fancy, and you can get them inexpensively if you know where to go. (Hello, IKEA! Their orchids are a steal! You can also try your local grocery store, but they are usually a bit more expensive than IKEA.)

Phalaenopsis orchids make great easy-care houseplants and beautiful gifts. -- Often Charming

All of the orchids in my house are phalaenopsis, but I’ve heard that dendrobiums make good, easy-care houseplants, too. I love mine because they produce great blooms that last several months without much effort from me. That’s my kind of houseplant.

An orchid from IKEA dressing up the bar cart in our dining room. -- Often Charming

An orchid from IKEA dressing up the bar cart in our dining room.

Orchids are a bit unusual in that they don’t grow in typical potting soil. Their roots need air to circulate around them.  Orchid potting medium gives them the nutrients they require while letting the roots breathe and anchor the plant as needed. You can buy special orchid pots which give them even more ventilation around the roots, but I haven’t found it necessary. Give them a container with good drainage and water only when they get dry (about once a week), and you should have very happy orchids.

The plant in my craft room really needed a bigger pot, so one day I grabbed a reusable plastic drink cup we’d gotten as a giveaway, cut some slits in it with a little knife and punched holes in the bottom. I put the orchid in it with a bit of new orchid potting medium and skipped a trip to my local garden center for a new container. Yay, upcycling!

Hide a plastic pot inside a prettier one. Just lift it out to water and no one will know! -- Often CharmingHide that plastic cup inside a prettier pot. -- Often Charming(Ok, so I did hide the ugly plastic cup inside a cute pink pot afterward. I just lift the cup out to water the plant and no one is the wiser.)

Now, like all living things, orchids need to rest. They will go into a sort of a dormant period, during which they don’t bloom. This is normal. They still need to be watered, and they may grow new leaves, but they aren’t going to do a whole lot. Many people worry that there is something wrong when this happens. Just be patient, and when they are ready, they will surprise you with a whole new show of flowers.

Because they are so easy to care for, not to mention gorgeous (and often inexpensive), orchids make great gifts. Tie some pretty ribbon around the pot and give it to your recipient with an orchid food spray (I like this one from Miracle-Gro, which is easy to find) and some basic care instructions. Charming and unique!

There are tons of resources online for growing orchids at home, if you’d like to read more about them. Here’s a good one to start with. You can even download some great growing guides for free that will answer a lot of the questions you may have.

I’m an absolute beginner with orchids, but I’ve had great success with them. You can, too.


Heather's Signature -- Often Charming


Note: This is not a sponsored post. Links provided in this post are purely meant to be helpful.