With lush natural elements, floral designer Sandra Sigman makes holiday magic above the hearth
Sandra Sigman spends December going from mantel to mantel. “Most people would love to decorate their mantels, but many holiday do-it-yourselfers hit a blank,” says the come-to-the-rescue owner of Les Fleurs in Andover, Massachusetts. Even if wannabe mantel decorators hit on a theme, making it happen can be a challenge.
Sigman begins by taking a few steps back. “You need to see the whole room,” she says. “I’m a big believer in tying everything together—it’s about the complete story. Start by asking yourself: What’s the design and color theme of my room?” A successful mantel factors in the complete dialogue. It echoes hints of color in the decor and captures treasures from nature outdoors. Is your home modern or traditional? Do you collect antiques? Are you a gardener with a penchant for sculpting mini trees? The mantel is where everything close to your heart and home comes together.
Personalize your mantel by bringing favorite collections into the mix. Got ironstone? Show it off. Do you sculpt topiary? Make mini myrtle standards part of the picture. Many New England mantels are narrow. To give depth, dangle smilax tucked into floral foam mixed with cedar and balsam boughs.
Take a cue from nature and emphasize the hues of a quirky cream-colored mantel by using fresh lemons and dried citrus slices inserted into a garland of balsam and holly. Pine cones and a faux bird’s nest (left) bring a casual sensibility. To color a yawning firebox, Sandra Sigman tucks in a cachepot filled with potted arborvitae (center). A primitive grapevine wreath is a simple focal point (right).
Blue accents make a memorable mantel against a white backdrop. For a classic, sophisticated setting, Sigman used favorite ginger jars intermingled with blue candles in mismatched candlesticks of staggered heights. Working with greens such as magnolia and arborvitae, which will last for weeks, she created a garland to underscore an asymmetrical wreath with a twiggy grapevine base adorned with similar greens. The dialogue continues with the vintage cutting board on the hearth, which she decorated with a swag of greens.
A vintage blue mantel takes on a coastal theme when Sigman embellishes greens with starfish, sand dollars, oyster shells, coral, and conch shells together with evergreens, bleached ferns, and some wispy smilax vines. The crowning touch is a wreath of globe thistle found at Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts.
For one simple arrangement, she started with a fragrant eucalyptus wreath, which she says will last for years. For a little bling, she coupled silver and blue vintage ornaments with silver candlesticks. “If you make it meaningful,” says Sigman, “you can’t go wrong.”
Looking for more holiday inspiration? Read these simple tips for throwing a last-minute holiday party.