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Cornucopia of ideas for turning mantel into autumn showcase

Fall is coming, and it’s time to celebrate this glorious season in your decor. One of the easiest – and most powerful – places you can trick up for autumn is the fireplace mantel.

Depending upon how much time or creative energy you want to invest, you can use it to make a big fall statement or just a whispered tribute to this beautiful season.

I like to build displays with gourds of all colors and shapes. No matter what shape, size or color of gourd you pick for a mantel display, you’ll need some risers to give your display a variety of visual heights.

One of my favorite tricks: perching a gourd on top of a candlestick.

Simple glass vases can make a mantel look regal. Frame a display with gold candlesticks that have a vintage feel. Gold is back in a big way, and I’m so glad because it is a perfect pick to pair with the warm colors of fall.

The interest comes in the variety of shapes and sizes of glass pieces, which range from big vases to tiny votive cups to candy dishes.

An old book is an excellent riser on a fall mantel, lending a drop of charm. Plus, it’s a great way to use some of those books wedged into all your bookcases. And I often use figurines in mantel displays because they bring a little unexpected surprise. One of my favorites for fall? Birds.

Have you ever thought about using an old clock in fall decorating? I just love to work with large-faced wall clocks because they are so intriguing.

In Halloween displays, I poise the hands at just a few minutes before midnight, as if anticipating a visit from ghosts and ghouls.

Favorite fall-decorating tools are antique wooden dough bowls. Often we place these long, hollowed-out troughs at the center of rectangular dining tables, on hutches or over bookcases, filled with fall gourds and foliage.

The column has been adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at