I’ve been in a decorating slump ever since I took down the Christmas decorations. Every thing seems ordinary, plain, and so the same. Kind of like the weather. I needed a change. So Friday morning, while I sipped my coffee and looked about my dreary living room, I decided to do a mantel piece makeover. The goal was simple:
1) Create a spring-themed grouping that could last for several months
2) Use only things I could find, repurpose, or make myself
3) NO out-of-pocket expenses (none, zero, zilch)
Since I wanted a spring theme, the first thing I did was head out to the yard to see what was blooming. Silly girl. It’s February! And even though it’s been warm, my yard is holding on to the deadness of winter. But, I do have lots of twigs in my yard, so I worked some clematis vines into a nest. I came back inside and found three pretty speckled eggs from our hens and blew them out. Since only half of the egg would be showing, I didn’t have to be very careful about keeping the holes small. Using a needle, I punched fairly large holes in the shell, and this allowed the egg to drain out quickly. I sterilized them in boiling water because nothing ruins a pretty mantel grouping like the smell of rotting eggs.
I had my nest, so now I needed a few other things to go with it. I searched around the house and found three “pitchers” (notice how I repurposed sugar dishes and creamers since they were the right size for my mantel). I wanted to bring in some green into the grouping, so I clipped some herbs for the pots in the middle. I might have used some faux foliage, but I didn’t have any and I couldn’t spend any money (see point #3). So sage and rosemary it is.
Then, I looked for some airy, interesting twigs. I found them in a piece of my lilac bush that blew over in the snowstorm we had last month. I brought those inside and intended to use some crepe paper to make little green leaf buds on the branches. But I didn’t have the right color of green. I did, however, have some pink. I cut small ½ square inch pieces, twisted them slightly, and dabbed a little Elmers on the end. I didn’t overdo the buds for the sake of him-who-does-not-like-pink. It brings a little hint of spring color without shouting, “Hey! I’m a branch covered in crepe paper!”
Next, I gathered two carved picture frames that I had picked up at a thrift store. I popped the glass out of the first one and used it to frame a little pottery bird sculpture that I had gotten at a garage sale for under a buck. Normally, it’s on my dresser, holding my rings. I put a little nest made of copper wire on the tree stump. I made this little nest a while ago using some copper from a dismantled toy (I have three boys; they like to dismantle stuff). It has little pearl eggs inside. I wanted some vertical lines, and I wanted the little bird to have greater weight in the grouping, so I framed it with the open frame.
The other frame took a little time. First I put a little fern picture I made. It didn’t work. Then, I rummaged through some old postcards from my great-grandmother’s attic, and found an Easter postcard with chicks on it. But, he-who-does-not-like-antique-postcards thought it looked out of place. He was right. It was too yellow and added a childishness that I wasn’t going for. So, I scrounged around some more. I thought I’d seen some drawings of eggs in one of my cooking magazines. I was right. I found an issue of Cook’s Illustrated that had just the print I needed. I cut it out and framed it. It works, and it was free!
Finally, I wanted a graphic element to add dimension to the grouping, so I went out the garage and rustled up a piece of wood. I spray painted it an almond color (I was going to use black, but the black didn’t work). While it was drying, I came in and typed up the word “NEST” in a word document, blowing it up to about 170 point font. I printed it, and when the plaque was dry, I burnished the words onto the plaque. Then, I used a bit of leftover paint we had sitting around the garage to paint the words over it. When that was dry, I sanded the edges a bit and it was done.
I put it all together, and I have to say, it definitely gives the room a fresher look. What do you think?