I just moved into a new place, and I’d kind-of forgotten after living in the same place and making it my own for more than 6 years how much TLC a new home can require.
Matt has already set about making small repairs and painting, and I’m working on making the place festive for fall! We hit a fair in a nearby town last week and I have been feeling particularly inspired.
Our place has an inactive fireplace with a nice mantle for decorating. Here are 3 super easy projects that each take less than an hour to complete which you can use to make your own mantle a centerpiece in your home for autumn.
I’m also including a scrumptious apple cider recipe, because autumn isn’t just vivid harvest colors—it’s aromas and flavors, as well! Let it simmer on the stove for 15-20 minutes, and your whole home will fill with fall fragrance that will make you want to stay in all evening.
Project #1: Twine vases
This project is very cheap to make. All you need are some glass vases, twine, and a hot glue gun. You can get vases for as little as a dollar each at Goodwill if you’re not picky about the shape, or at Michael’s for a few dollars more if you know exactly how you’d like them to look.
Decide where you want the “back” of the vase to be, and glue a portion of the twine vertically to the bottom of the vase. The twine doesn’t need to be cut yet; it can roll directly from the spool. Then wrap the twine around the vase a few times, securing as needed with glue to cover up the vertical piece.
Then spiral the twine around the glass in the design of your choice, glueing down as needed, preferably on the back if you can, that way less glue spots are likely to show. At the top of the vase, wrap the twine around several times again, and tuck in the end when you finally cut from the spool.
Fill with sheaves of wheat, sunflowers, or other fall botanicals!
Project #2: Gilded pinecones
The hardest part about these is waiting for the gold paint to dry! You can gather pinecones from the great outdoors if you live near pine trees (try to get a variety of sizes), or you can pick them up in a craft store or buy them online.
Using liquid gilding or gold paint, dab the ends of the bristles. This will be very subtle, but will allow the pinecones to pop if you spread them over your mantle or, like I did, stack them in a clear jar!
Project #3: Homemade candlesticks
Fun fact: My mother sells vintage dishes for a living, and I know because of that how much chipped dishes lose their value. If you have a chipped saucer and an old wine goblet that could reuse repurposing, this project is perfect!
Just flip the goblet over (be sure to give it a good scrub first), spray with primer, and finish off with spray paint in the color of your choice! I chose cream to add a bright neutral to my display. Pro tip: Paint outside so you’re not breathing in fumes. (Matt was a little annoyed when I started this project indoors!)
Do the same with a saucer that’s both a good size to fit the base of your goblet and catch the drippings from your candle, and then glue the two together. I created three tiers of candles using this method—and they look great!
On the Mantle
When it comes to using these three projects together on your mantle, go for varying heights, and pull them all together with greens, berry stems, flowers, gourds, pumpkins, or pinecones wound around their bases. Make sure not to light any candles underneath wheat or flowers so that your fireplace doesn’t—well, catch fire! Then warm up and enjoy your display with some hot spiced cider.
- 1/2 gallon local apple cider
- 1.5 cups orange juice
- 3 fat cinnamon sticks—3”
- 8 whole cloves
- 1 pinch allspice
- 1 pinch nutmeg
Bring all ingredients to a simmer on the stove, and allow flavors to blend on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off heat. Use a ladle to extract cinnamon sticks and cloves. Serve hot! Makes 6-8 large mugs of cider.