Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Hearths

I always assume that Santa has an eye for holiday decorating and that he secretly ranks his favourite holiday hearths after he crahses down chimney after chimney, loaded down with gifts. I say, why not give him something to marvel at while he snacks on chocolate-chip cookies and milk? While the imagery below consists primarily of hearths in large, expensive homes, I feel the ideas behind the decorating concepts are easy to attain on the simplest of brick fireplaces - or even on the mantels of inexpensive electric versions! It just takes imagination, the proper tools and materials, an understanding of the design you're going for and some holiday spirit.

Hearths and mantels lend themselves so well to decoration: an artistic tableau of various flower arrangements, for example, anchored by a central focal point, such as a mirror or portrait over the fireplace can transform the fireplace into a focal point. During holiday time, decorative flights of fancy let the imagination soar. In the photo above, a simple garland of spruce and pine boughs is given a luxe treatment with flowing white silk ribbon, large California pinecones and Christmas bulbs in two shades, a light gold and a cream. It creates an understated and elegant look in this formal living room.
Taking cues from the citrus tones of this Manhattan penthouse, a spruce garland is festooned with California pine cones, orange Christmas bulbs and and a winding trail of rustic cord made of raffia.
The pine boughs in this garland are barely visible under the array of various pinecones and numerous white poinsettia bracts. Mistletoe and little white lights complete the modern look. Huge arrangements of white amaryllis and Japanese chrysanthemums rest atop twin tables.

Amaryllis flowers are kept individually hydrated in tiny vessels tucked into a cedar garland. It looks robust and rustic in traditional red and green in this country house.

The red walls of this library are ideally suited to a Christmas hearth. Here, the designers opted for a symmetrical display of winter-berry topiaries flanking a rectangular planter filled with red poinsettia and a toy monkey dressed to the nines in holiday finery. A Santa stauette lends to the whimsical touch.

Another study in symmetry, this hearth makes an understated holiday tableau. An arrangment of tall amaryllis holds the center of the display, volumized by its reflection in the large mirror, while long swags of spruce and pine boughs hold pinecones, green and white ribbon and white lights.

In the same house, the library fireplace is elevated with an arrangement of winter pine branches and berries in a black iron urn. Magnolia leaves, holly boughs and pinecones nestle together under the striking round mirror, which is made of seashells.

The cedar garland in this New York atelier climbs the gilded mirror over the fireplace. It is unadorned except for a few red berries. A tabletop arrangement of red carnations, cedar branches, red ribbon and glazed pommegrantes lends heeps of drama to the scene.
An amaryllis lover, like myself, will adore this festive scene. Various potted varieties of the stunning holiday flower look elegant and unusual grouped together around the hearth and mantel. Covering the soil in each pot is a layer of dried pine needles. Tucked into a wreath above the fireplace, the flowers take on a truly festive air.

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