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Sunday, January 8, 2012

the winter mantel




   I wanted to add some warmth and color to the living room mantel for the cold winter months...











Antique French confit pots share the mantel with a trio of antique brass church candlesticks, a large tree fungus "conk", a sculptural piece of a tree root from our property, a bee hive, my 20-year-old topiary, and an antique French horn letter opener.


 












Antique earthenware confit pots were utilitarian pieces used primarily in the South of France (Provence) for the preservation of meats such as duck or goose. The bottom halves of the pots were unglazed, as the pots would be half buried in the ground to keep the contents cool and fresh.  Since these pots were utilitarian pieces chips and imperfections help authenticate the true antiques from the many reproductions on the market. 



I love old repairs on pottery... the wire on the neck of the small pot was an attempt by someone many years ago to contain a crack in the pot.





A copper tray from India commands the coffee table.







83 comments:

  1. It's so restful after all the exuberant colour of Christmas.

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  2. Beautiful mantel Joan! It looks very warm and organic. Love the chippy pottery and mirror. I could be very comfy here on a cold winter night!

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  3. okay besides the fact that I love this room and all the subtule changes are beautiful... how on earth can you keep a topiary alive for 20 years? I am totally convinced that it's a world record!!

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  4. The confit pots are perfect alongside the elements of nature you added. Simplicity in the most gorgeous of forms. My heart leaps for joy when I see a new post from you in my reader!

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  5. Your fireplace is beautiful and your vignette is stunning. I love your confit pots, they are fabulous. Hugs, Marty

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  6. I love the mantle, the entire concept is divine. What fun to use the tree mushroom thing and add the old French Pots. It does belong in a magazine. Thanks for sharing. Richard from My Old Historic House.

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  7. Thank you for the details on the confit pots. It was like you were reading my mind because I was just about to google them when I scrolled down and saw your paragraph about them.

    As always another greatly appreciated post. What a wonderful way to start my morning!

    Happy New Year!
    Karla in CA.

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  8. Beautiful muted colors and textures. I love that it's asymmetrical but still very well balanced. That's tough to do.

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  9. I love seeing you enjoy your pieces with their age marks. I admire that in my clients...people that love French understand if we over restore, we lose its character.

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  10. Absolutely beautiful arrangement. I just want to keep looking at it. So many wonderful, organic.. i don't really want to call them 'things'.. You've brought the outdoors in in such a lovely way..

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  11. Very pretty! I love olive jars, and the use of unusual natural items. That mirror is incredible!

    ♥Linsey

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  12. Beautiful copper tray!! I always love seeing your mantel throughout the seasons! xoxo Brooke

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  13. I love the textures and elements from outside that you mixed together, it is very warm. You gave me great ideas for mine!
    Bristol

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  14. Absolutely stunning Joan as always and I love that copper tray!! Have a great week, Martina

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  15. Joan, I could just sit in your living room for hours reading and having a cup of tea all wrapped up in a lush throw. Or better yet, you and me having a long conversation over a cup of tea!! Kathysue

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  16. So gorgeous, and I love the texture and colours here!

    Deborah xo

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  17. Wonderful combination of textures, Joan-- I'd love to enjoy a cup of tea in front of this fireplace!
    Happy New Year!
    xo Heidi

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  18. Fabulous winter mantel! There's a conk growing on a tree up the street @- I've got my eye on that little fun guy! (Fungus humor)! Love the layered cowhide - I have one in my foyer but may add one to my living room too. Lastly that is a fab Moroccan tray - I also have a huge oval one where I corral my green vintage glass collection. You've got a great way of putting things together!
    Kelly

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  19. Love the pottery and candlesticks. Very warm and cozy!

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  20. You inspire me! Just beautiful!!!

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  21. Beautiful of course and oh, how I want some of those pots. I keep looking.

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  22. Love your winter warmth. At this point in following your blog I'd probably faint if you ever did anything I didn't just LOVE.

    Your andirons are beautifully evocative for me...as a child in Virginia I remember my mother's living room andirons with brass ball finials? tops? not sure what they're called, if anything.

    I just so enjoy how your taste and choices are classic and meaningfully thought through with just a teensy, tiny bit of trend here and there to keep it fresh. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!

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  23. Your mantel is wonderful! I am envious of your confit pots. I have wanted one for years!

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  24. I love the way you've mixed all these materials - glass, pottery, metals, and natural elements, it makes for a very cozy winter mantel. I'll bet the crackling from the fireplace makes it a perfect room to snuggle up and read a book in!

    Have a wonderful Sunday!

    Mary

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  25. The fungus is amazing!!! And Fantastic!!! As is the gnarlly tree root. Integraating them into teh overall artrangement of man made artifacts is brilliant.

    I have boxes of little pieces of drift wood, roots and such that I bring home on my walks around the neighborhood and the ocean shore line. (I get it from my Mom...) It's fun to bring a few pieces out now and then to change the mood and pace of a room.

    Cheers,
    John

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  26. Hi, Joan,
    I love the new look and every component in it. My favorite element is the antique confit pots. I have a collection of them, myself and plan on featuring them in the open shelves of my newly remodeled kitchen.

    I must congratulate you, not on just your apparent great style, but on your ability to keep a topiary alive for twenty years. Mine did not make it through Christmas. I am impressed.

    Enjoy your living room. It looks perfect for retreating from New England winters.

    All the best...Victoria

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  27. Jamie@twofriendsandahouseJanuary 8, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Joan,
    I love the warmth that the natural items add to your mantel. It is just beautiful. I also love the education you provide! As I drive my kids to school, I pass a tree with fungus. It is so beautiful! I am tempted to stop and ask if I can have it! Thank you for your sweet comments on my new blog after I left a calling card ... I look forward to getting to know you more. Keep posting and sharing the beauty.
    Jamie

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  28. I love learning new things...I had no idea why the pots were unglazed on the bottom!! Also, there is fungus growing on my neighbor's trees and I'm drying to climb them and peel off the fungus!! I never noticed it until I started reading your blog! Is your fireplace gas or real wood?? If it's gas, it's fantastic!!

    Mary (Ruth's sis)

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  29. What a great mantle scape. I just love the way you decorate.

    Holly

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  30. Joan,

    It's Mary again. I meant "dying, not drying"!!!

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  31. Love it! I too have a white mantel that I've tried to "warm up" for the winter months and have been looking for an antique mirror. But what I really want to know is, how on earth did you keep a topiary alive for 20 years?! Has it been repotted many times? I love topiaries but have never had much luck with them.

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  32. Your mantel is perfectly balanced and arranged. I love the old pottery and the spot of greenery! Beautiful, Joan!

    XO,
    Jane

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  33. Your mantel and living room look very comforting for this time of year.

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  34. SO nicely done - I love all of the natural elements - especially the wood and the fungus. I didn't realize that's why those pots only had the glazing on the top - how interesting. They are also lovely!

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  35. I like how the brass candlesticks pick up the metallic gilding of the mirror, and help it blend with the other objects. I also like the three stone finials on the floor, and how they balance the larger urn asymmetrically on the other side.
    --Road to Parnassus

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  36. Hi Joan, just beautiful...are these olive jars? I love them whatever they are! I love the muted earthy colors, kind of a nice respite after all the gold, red and green overload of Christmas (but beautiful of course)! My mindset is one of peace, calm, trying to decompress after the holiday frenzy and that beautiful room meshes just perfectly with how I am feeling.....just beautiful!

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  37. just beautiful joan. the great thing about this post for me is that i used to always wonder what the rest of the room looked like when you'd post your mantle updates. and now i don't have to wonder. it's ALL gorgeous! thanks joan for always inspiring me to get the details right. xo

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  38. I love all the natural elements - definitely sone of my favorite items to decorate with. Beautiful! liz

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  39. I always love clearing my mantels after Christmas, and yours is beautiful inspiration. Love the confit pots and the letter opener is wonderful!! I couldn't help but notice the lovely botanical prints gracing the sides of your mantel...stunning. Happy Sunday ~

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  40. Joan, your mantel is beautiful! I love how each piece has special meaning to you. I think thats the secret of how to make a house into a home, and you do it so beautifully. XO, Gail

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  41. Oh my gosh! It is absolutely perfect. Could I come live in your house? :)

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  42. Very pretty! Wish we had conks in our area, those are so cool! I have an old topiary like that, too. It looks fresh and new in a good pot with the moss like yours. So inviting!

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  43. Your fireplace is beautiful and I love those pots!

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  44. Love the touches of nature in your decorating. I was just looking through the issue of Renovation Style that features your home. I think your photos are better!

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  45. So, so beautiful! Love the pots. I have one of the ugliest fireplaces known to man, but hopefully soon - very, very soon - that will all change. Then maybe I can create something almost as beautiful as yours. :)

    Blessings, Barb

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  46. Love it, just beautiful and so simple. Love those gorgeous brass candlesticks. Must get my collection out of the attic.

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  47. The confit pots are very handsome. I love your mix of rustic/nature/texture. Very warm and alive.

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  48. So beautiful!! Do you mind sharing tips on how you kept a topiary alive for 20 years? Mine last about 20 days, then they die...

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  49. Joan,
    Such a treat to see a new blog entry. Love the mantel, so lovely and original. You have an amazing eye and wonderful way of educating your followers.

    Karen
    Wisconsin

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  50. I love your style Joan! Believe me, you are my mentor!
    Your mantel represents two things I am adding to my collection for 2012: more confit pots and more of nature's beautiful decorations. I've always collected bird's nests, but love how you've added the fungus and beehive. I just bought the coolest book: "Woodland Style." It has also inspired me. Love that rustic, textural look and you have perfected it for sure! ~Delores

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  51. AHHHHH, this is SO calming! I love the natural elements, ahve always loved that "fungus" thing. I just got a whole box full of antlers and turtle shells in the mail from my BIL! Stop on over to see my post. I needed this calming post right now, up to my eyeballs getting ready for daughter and SIL to move in while their house is being built. XO, Pinky

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  52. Joan, Dan, and Ella: This is one of the reasons I love reading your blog...I always learn something, in addition to viewing the beautiful photos! Cindy

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  53. Swoon, can you please come to my house? I love your eye for nature, and color pallet. My home to is mostly shades of white melding into browns. Oh, I must go gather more of the things I love and surround myself with them. Good thing they are no farther than the garage. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  54. Looks lovely! Tasteful touches with beautiful antiques. Your fire looks so inviting as well - would it be a gas log set? If so, very realistic!

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  55. Mary (Ruth's "younger" sister;) and Anon8:43... yes the fireplace is gas. It is a vented set made by Majestic and is the Duzy3...
    http://majesticproducts.com/family/Gas-Log-Sets/Vented/Duzy-3/

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  56. Joan,
    There is something so wonderful about all of the natural elements to your "winter mantle" The bee hive and piece of tree coupled with the authentic, antique French confit pots just makes it magazine worthy...love it! I'm really curious, how did you manage to keep the little ivy topiary alive for 20 years! :-)
    Karen

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  57. Lovely lovely lovely!!! So many fantastic pieces! xo

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  58. Beautiful room! I'm very curious about the provenance of the tray on the large wooden chest. It looks Middle Eastern, tin on copper.

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  59. Everything you touch turns to gold!
    Just beautiful... I always drool over your conks!
    Do you know any resources for them, I just die over yours, especially this large one on your mantel.
    Happy New Year!
    XO

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  60. Simply gorgeous as ever. A very Happy New Year to you and yours.x

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  61. Hi Joan
    Just lovely. Those clonks have got me fascinated. Love the India tray
    Kind Regards
    Karen

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  62. Beautiful mantle, absolutly love the antique earthernware pots they add such a wonderful warmth to the room.

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  63. Hi Joan! Well now you've gone and done it! You inspired me!! :-)
    I have some pots that are inspired by the old look of pottery like yours. I hadn't figured out how to use them yet, but now I'm on a roll. I might blog about it *if it turns out well) and use one of your pictures as my inspiration (of course I'll give credit to the master!). I'm afraid I'm fungus free though (LOL). Love your tray on the table too!

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  64. Beautiful as always! This display seems a bit different from what I've seen in the past from you. I love how you educate as you share your antiques with us (confit pots).

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  65. Just beautiful and so much warmth with the colors and textures of the very loved objects for the winter months.

    My eyes were of course drawn to all the pretty interesting things on and around the mantel, but as we are planning our renovations of our house built in 1900 in in CT...I can't help but look at the entire fireplace. When was your home built? The original mantel in our home was replaced many years ago with a stone fireplace and it does not go with the house...I'm thinking this would be closer. I love the brick and also the slate...I assume it's original to the house? It's really beautiful!

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  66. It is all perfect.
    We have a smaller tray, from India, aged to that wonderful green patina .. I have mine by the kitchen door for keys . I wish we had more .. I guess we will have to go back to India ! :)
    Happy New Year, Joan !
    C

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  67. Look at you...all nature girl and everything! Interesting about the potsand why only partially glazed. I have an old one that was called an olive jar (also partially glazed) did they store olives that way? or is it not an olive jar at all??

    Mantel looks beautiful...expect a little wood nymph to stick his little face out from behind!

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  68. Love everything! As usual... your house is gorgeous.
    I do have a question about your fireplace. Is it wood burning or gas? I am asking because we have a wood burning one, but I want to redo it a little bit. It has a door on it, but I prefer the look of an open fireplace. If yours is wood burning, do you have any pros/cons about having it open. Especially over the summer months...do you lose any energy/air conditioning through the chimney?

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  69. Terri- The only resource I know of is the woods;)... sorry.

    Annie- the house was built in 1850and the fireplace is original to the house.

    Linda- I have some of those olive jars too, and yes they did use them to store olives!

    SmileyIsles- the fireplace is a vented gas. We close the damper between fires and keep it closed in the summer so there is minimal air loss.

    I'll post next on the 20 year old topiary!

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  70. So happy to have found your blog! I'm a fellow NH gal (born and bred). Your home is beautiful! =)

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  71. Joan, like all the comments before, this looks so warm and inviting. Even my son Charlie just pointed to your pictures and said "are we going there?" Oh, Charlie, I wish! Then I could post about my lunch with Joan and it would be just as good as any lunch had with Bunny Williams.

    Katie

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  72. Hello, Adriana from OZ again. Love your mantle, it conjurs images of cosy nights by the fire. Happy new year to you and yours.

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  73. Joan, Your mantel is beautiful! I love the antique confit pots.
    Hugs,
    Sherry

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  74. Thank you...1850...that helps a lot. I think I need to start searching salvage yards to find an old mantel.

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  75. i love all the texture that just oozes from your mantel vignette. i just want to touch it all!!

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  76. Love the mantel. Crisp, but still warming. It would be great to have you join me at Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

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  77. Joan- I am completely new to your site and wanted to share a story. My husband and I currently live in Romania. We went for a walk in the forest near our house recently and picked up a fungus or 'conk' as I thought it interesting. I came home and for whatever reason opened your blog. What do I see but a beautiful mantel featuring nothing other than a conk! Serendipity. I ran out to the car, grabbed the conk, and fashioned a similar arrangement and included feathers from the forest, family pictures etc. I also went back into the forest with my dog and dragged out a monster of a conk weighing over 15 pounds to put who knows where......I totally stole yoir idea, but assume you do not mind.

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  78. The mantel looks great...I can ran around my property and gather most of the same stuff...except those confit pots. Those are GREAT. You should them to me :)

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  79. I have come back seversl times to this January post. There is something that speaks to me about your winter mantel! I use it for inspiration--just lovely.

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  80. We have a used brick fireplace and I would love to paint the brick to look like yours. Did you paint it or did it come that way? If you painted it, what kind.color of paint did you use? Thanks so much!!

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    Replies
    1. The painted bricks on this fireplace are original. We did however paint the dining room fireplace bricks to look like this one. You want to use a high-heat mat black paint. If you want it to look aged I would paint the bricks and then lightly wipe, exposing just a hint of the original brick.

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