Happy October.

Today’s post is a little different.

Usually I show you a before like this—an empty mantel waiting for an episode of Extreme Home Makeover.

I show you the before.

We all blink.

And an after that’s finished and ready for cozy and fall and a Hollywood agent….

…hops onto the pages of this blog.

But today?

Today I took a zillion pictures between before and after. There’s so much “during” I worried this post couldn’t hold it all.

But the post gets even better. I had finished the mantel. I was done. And then? I discovered the one thing that every single person who has walked into this home has commented on and asked me where I got it.

And I’m sharing everything on this episode of manteltalk.

// similar wheat stack //

Step 1: Add something tall on either side

Okay. Before I start the step-by-step —I have to talk a little about mantels and a big decision you have to start with.

All mantel decor starts with this decision.

Do you want to be symmetrical or not?

That’s really decision number one. You start by deciding if you want both sides of your mantel to match? Or do you want to put more stuff on one side than the other side?

Me? I’ve done both—but I really lean toward everything matching. I think it’s a little easier to decorate if you aren’t really a professional mantel decorator or if you haven’t gone to school for mantel decorating. Like me.

Symmetry. Check.

Something tall on each side in approximately the same location. Check.

I chose these wheat and corn stalks that I got so long ago I can’t remember where they came from. I found some that were super similar and affordable here.

// eucalyptus stems//

Step 2: Add some matching greenery

Now that you have tall things on each side, you need to find something that kind of fills up the space and drapes over the side.

I chose greenery.

I had these old sprigs of eucalyptus which is actually the superhero of greenery because it’s superpower is that it morphs into any season depending on what you add to it.

For spring, you can add flowers and it turns into spring. For summer you can add hydrangeas and it turns into summer. For winter you can add cedar or pine and it turns into winter. And for fall? You can add maple leaves and that EXACT SAME EUCALYPTUS turns into fall.

There are different types of eucalyptus, but I really like silver dollar eucalyptus. I added two stems of eucalyptus on each side.

You can see silver dollar eucalyptus here.

// similar neutral maple leaves //

Step 3: Add some seasonal greenery

This is my favorite step.

This is where you see the mantel coming together. It’s getting cuter and cuter.

You might be tempted to stop here.

DO NOT even think about stopping. Onwards and upwards to cuteville.

I wanted to connect the wheat stalks to the rest of the mantel so I added neutral maple leaf stems like these. There are two stems on each side.

One quick note: don’t worry about fluffing the stems too much. Wait until you get all the mantel all in place and then the fluffing is so much easier.

// cream faux pumpkins //

Step 4: Add in pumpkins

You have your greenery.

You have your fall greenery.

Now you need pumpkins. The key to adding pumpkins? Vary the height. It’s actually a main mantel decorating axiom. Whatever you put on the mantel? Don’t have everything the same height. Zig-zag all your mantel pieces so it looks professional.

Here are my favorite cream pumpkins. The stem is brushed with gold and there’s a little bit of gold on the top so they look super high-end.

You can see them here.

Add some more greenery and pumpkins

Just between us?

I’m kind of making up this whole mantel decorating as I go along.

I didn’t really plan it out. Mantel decorating to me is kind of like Italian cooking. A pinch of this. A pinch of that and you keep adding things until you know it looks right.

I knew I needed to connect the two sides, so I added some more pumpkins and greenery to connect both sides of my mantel.

Then I put a stool in the center of the mantel and added a few more pumpkins.

// eucalyptus wreath //

Step 5: Add a wreath

Were you waiting for me to add a wreath?

Were you thinking that shutter looked empty?

Please come sit by me because that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking, too.

I’m kind of obsessed with this wreath. I’ve moved it all over the house and it looks so cute everywhere I put it. So it might need a friend. I may need to go get one more.

It’s under $25 and has eucalyptus (both kinds) and fall stems and three pumpkins.

The wreath was added to the vintage shutter and it ties the entire mantel together. Then I added a basket with a throw and pumpkins.

You can see the wreath here.

// eucalyptus wreath //

That’s it.

Five steps from before to during to after.

The mantel is ready.

The mantel is finished.

Or is it?

// set of three faux pumpkin candles //

Can you see this?


I know, right?

I wish this was flickeravision so you could see the flame flicker.

It looks so real.

// set of three faux pumpkin candles //

The pumpkins are wax and some in two different colors (I got the white) and the flame looks so real.

You turn them off and on with a remote.

The pumpkins come in a set of three and have a timer and an extra set of batteries.

You can see the set of faux pumpkins here.

// set of three faux pumpkin candles //

A mantel is just a mantel.

Until the sun goes down.

Pumpkins and candles are the perfect combination.

Here’s to adding a little extra cozy to the mantel to truly make it feel like fall.

disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.

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  1. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    KariAnne It looks awesome. I love the remote pumpkins. They are super cute. Just so pretty all of it.

  2. Image for Judy Young Judy Young

    I love what you did with the old shutter. Very creative! I wouldn’t have thought to do that! Your Mabel looks fabulous as always

    1. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

      Is that the name of her mantle? Mable Mantle? : -D Just had to say something, I love a good typo when it turns into a funny.

  3. Image for Karen Karen

    I too love the arrangement! However, I’d love to know how you attached the shutter to the wall, how the wreath was hung on the shutter, etc. The “behind the making of a great arrangement” helps sooo much. Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. Image for Rizae Rizae

    I kept going back and forth from start to finish! This mantel is fabulous. I love your "designers eye"... Big Hugs

  5. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh that entire mantle looks awesome, KA! And I adore those candles. (Remote faux candles are the best, too.) HINT: don't forget to take out the little round batteries when you put these candles away for the season. If you do not they tend to corrode and ruin the candle. I bought those itty bitty zip lock bags online to keep all mine and you can write on the bag so you know what year and where it goes, and rubber band them to the candle. Which is going a bit far but that's the way I am, too far, haha.

  6. Image for Kathy Menold Kathy Menold

    Thought I was tired of looking at autumn decor but your mantle is so great I have saved it to copy next fall. This year I did not do a symmetrical arrangement on my mantle but will in 2024. It's my favorite composition and your design is great. Thanks and happy October.

  7. Image for Colleen Colleen

    Did I miss it?? What is the one item everyone asks you about? I LOVE how this turned out and thank you for the step by step instructions!

  8. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    That mantel is just gorgeous and.it is even better in the dark with candles lit. Thanks and have a great evening.

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