CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Move over, Christmas tree.
Decked in holiday finery, mantels often usurp the tree for center stage in a well-dressed room.
Anything goes in mantel décor, from simple fresh greenery, red candles and pinecones to profusions of flowers, fruits, ornaments, lights, ribbons and feathers. Some mantels hold sentimental collections of angels and Santas, while others boast opulent displays of decorative items arranged by professional designers.
Laura Wehrle combined the approaches when she spoke with Kevin Madison, of Food Among the Flowers, about decorating her historic South Hills house for the holidays. She and her family were away while their home was undergoing renovation, but wanted to return to a festive house filled with familiar Christmas items.
"She wanted me to use her things in the design. I brought garland and ribbon and worked her stuff in," said Madison, who worked some of the Wehrles' cream and gold ornaments into an elegant mantelpiece for their dining room and used the mercury glass pieces Wehrle favors in a low mantel decoration in the family room.
A flat-screen television mounted directly above the family room mantel presented a challenge common to many homeowners. Madison used a small amount of greenery, pinecones and short candleholders.
"You can't use too much material under the television or it blocks the screen," Madison said. "You could also do something under the mantel or inside the fireplace, if it isn't being used."
Craik-Patton House director Bri Jackson instructed designers who gussied up the historic house for a holiday open house to decorate in the Williamsburg style of the 19th century and to use natural materials.
Joe Walker, of Walker's Fine Flowers, choose magnolia, pine, hydrangea and feathers to create a manteltop setting for two stuffed pheasants.