Botanic Bleu Market

French Christmas Mantel

Friday, December 12, 2014

Over time more and more French design elements 
have been added to my house. 
What began as a house in the country has 
slowly taken on more French Country, 
none more dramatically than the living room fireplace.  

And no time more completely than this Christmas 
with the design emphasis on natural greenery and gray cement. 

The wood carved mantel was added first, 
just a little over a year after the house was built. 
Prior to the carved mantel there was only a makeshift thin pine board 
set atop the massive beam supports built into the stonework 
while the search for a permanent mantel took place.  

That began the transformation from American Country to 
French Country 
 which set the stage for this year's Christmas mantel, 
a French Christmas Mantel

For over twenty-five years, various framed prints hung over the mantel. 
When I saw this mirror in a French Country design book 
I fell in love with it. 
Much to my delight, I stumbled upon it at a local shop about two years 
after I first saw it and bookmarked the page on which it appeared. 
How fast did I find the sales person to help me move it 
to the checkout counter? 
Faster than a New York minute! 

This is my favorite Christmas decorated mantel. 
The mirror, the boxwood wreath and boxwood bouquets, 
the gray floral-swag decorated vases, the cement rose bundles, 
and the hand-painted blue NOËL sign remind me of FRANCE. 

The hand-painted NOËL sign was made a few years ago, 
one of many joint projects completed over the years by my husband and me.  
So, seeing it every Christmas brings back all the 
special memories associated with making it and other projects. 

My husband routed the edges of a simple pine board. 
Then I painted the board white, flecked it with gold, painted 
the edges with a matching gold, and hand-painted the blue NOËL 
using a pattern made from a computer-generated font.  

Squint your eyes so you only see the Christmas mantel laden with fresh greenery, 
and perhaps, just perhaps, you could be in a PARIS apartment. 

An apartment in which fresh flowers adorn the mantel routinely...  
Roses in a vase echoing the wood carving on the mirror... 

An apartment in which only fresh greens adorn the mantel at Christmas time,  
releasing crisp evergreen scents that fill the rooms with their fragrance, 
providing the magical Christmas feeling just by their aroma... 

More freshness on the coffee table... 
An evergreen wreath sitting on top a concrete urn 
is a nest for a very large partridge. 

A carved wooden pedestal holding a candle could be part of 
a column in a PARIS apartment built in the 1800s. 
Squint your eyes once more to see the column. 

Soft candlelight aids in imagining the old PARIS apartment. 

Flickering candlelight provides light as the sun sets on 

a French Christmas Mantel. 

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