Project Inferno

Since Christmas ended, the top of our fireplace was looking a bit…bland. In the almost two years we have lived here, my focus has been in other rooms of the house. The living room hasn’t gotten as much time or attention as some of the other rooms. A few nights ago I was walking back to our bedroom and glanced over and realized how bare the top of the mantle looked. It was actually worse before; over Christmas we bought those two paintings from Hobby Lobby (two 40% coupons and 2 check outs later, we had a fireplace painting—yes, I love a bargain) because there used to be a random mirror up there…oh just 12 feet high so no one can use it, since none of us are actually giants.

I laid awake that night and obsessed over the bare mantle. If I had to describe my aesthetic, it would be “French provincial with a touch of farmhouse shabby chic” and I was really struggling with finding something that would work with the house, which is a Federal Colonial styled house. I originally thought some florals in pots and baskets but it would appear too similar in level across such a long mantle. I then looked into apothecary jars of various sizes and shapes, and while I liked the idea (which I’m going to use elsewhere) it just won’t work on the mantle for a couple different reasons. The major one is to the dimension I need and to get the feel I would need the mantle to be wide enough to support a few wide jars side clustered together and that wasn’t going to happen.

I’ve always like the idea of using something old and something simple. So that brings me to Mason jars. I’m a big fan of the jars. I’ve used them for decorations before in Christmas photos, I’ve made them into hanging tealight lanterns, they can be used as glasses or silverware holders, the possibilities are endless. And the fact that you can dress up the jars with paint, or glitter, ribbon, twine, or just a decorative tray appeals to me. I played with the idea of getting a deep dough bowl and using short Mason jars (jam jars) but decided the room, which has 23′ ceilings, needed a mantle decor with more height. I ordered a dozen quart size Mason jars from Amazon for just under $20.

Because our mantle is quite long, I had to decide how many jars and how much space I wanted the wood tray to take. I knew I was going to be adding odds and ends to either side of the tray (to add height and dimension) so I decided I wanted the tray to take up about three feet of the space. It’s a very simple tray, with the sides just butted up against each other and nailed. My husband wanted to help and built the tray in about 20 minutes from $28 worth of wood. We put some rubber feet underneath because I have an outlet on top of our mantle so we can plug in lights and the tray wouldn’t sit level, otherwise. He stained it in Espresso and we were all set.

When the jars arrived from Amazon, I decided to take colors that were already in our home and paint the jars in those colors with chalk paint. Chalk Paint (I used Annie Sloan) will stick to glass on it’s own. But, one downside of painting directly on glass is that the paint wants to come off, so when you go back over it for another coat, it has a tendency to come off where your brush just went over. It’s important to let the paint try completely and get enough to put on a thicker, but even coat in one stroke. The other option to prime the glass with Zinssers Bulls Eye Shellac (I always use this brand’s stain and odor blocker on my furniture pieces, works like a charm. Just make sure you really stir it up since all the good stuff is at the bottom) and then use the chalk paint. However, because of the look I was going for, I didn’t need perfection so I skipped the primer.


I could tell my husband wasn’t sure about the colors. He asked me multiple times, “where did you see this?” I had to keep reminding him, my harebrained decor ideas have never failed before so he needed to just trust me. The colors of the the jars: French Linen, Antoinette, Giverny, Old White, Paris Grey, Duck Egg, and the lighter shade of blue is a mix that I had made for another piece that I had laying around.

The box is a little wider than I needed because I had wanted to fill it with some decorative moss to bring in more color to the space, which you can see, is very white and very “meh”. Even though I planned to use many different colors of artificial flowers, I still wanted to incorporate a few more colors to really make it pop. I picked up some green Spanish moss, 350+ cubic feet for $6.99 + 40% coupon, not to shabby. The flowers took a bit a of time to get because I was waiting for a good sale at Hobby Lobby. Unfortunately, even with the sale, they were still pretty pricey since it was priced per stem. I ended up getting bunches for about $8 to $11 a bunch on Amazon. And because I have weird pet-peeves, one of which being that vases and other holders that hold flower should be full and look plentiful, I bought what I believed I needed and then some extras in case I needed more. All in, the flowers: artificial peonies, hydrangeas, and lavender (in the same colors as the jars) cost right around $130. You can definitely tone down on the flowers to save, but I prefer the holders to be really full. Plus, any of the extras that I didn’t use, I was planning on using in a wreath for the door.


The mantle is almost done. I am waiting on my miniature Mora clock replica to arrive and it should be done. I think other then some additional arranging and the Mora clock, the mantle is pretty much complete. Here is the mantle now, once I get the clock I’ll update the post. Thanks for reading!


My mini Mora style clock came!

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