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jane2516

Too cluttered?

Jane
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

I recently found the perfect accessories for my fireplace mantle. Does it look too cluttered?

The mantle and fireplace surround will be painted white (not natural as shown) with carrera marble interior and a black fireplace box with satin nickel glass doors. I think the room's design style is contemporary cottage with a touch of craftsman, but I lean toward clean modern lines with a little character.

I've gotten so used to having only the painting there that the extra 3D stuff seems to be closing in on me. It's a small room and the sofa is on the left and is pretty close to the fireplace. Maybe I just have to get used to it. The mantle and lanterns project out into the room about 7". The plants on either side are in the corners of the room. The room is about 11' wide.

Maybe the balance is off. Do I need something under the painting? I put the ducks on the left since the ficus has more presence on the right, but the kiwi bird on the right seems a little short now. I have more pebbles if that would help. And more candles and other stuff but I feel like I don't want more stuff. There is not much I can do with the plants.

Thanks for any input!

Comments (49)

  • deegw
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I like it but the lanterns are throwing me off a bit. Would they work better if they were dark and had more visual weight? Or if they were on the mantle instead of the pebbles or birds? I don't know. I am a big fan of vases with tall filler on mantles. Can we see a picture of the whole wall? Context really helps when trying to figure out the balance. Sorry about my stream of consciousness :)

    Jane thanked deegw
  • bossyvossy
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think the items on mantle are too small. Birds "go" with painting, just need to be bigger. If you don't need the lanterns, I'd remove, painting speaks for itself. Here is a pic where less but bigger accessories give it an elegantly casual look.

    Jane thanked bossyvossy
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  • 3katz4me
    7 years ago

    I like the artwork - the other little stuff is a distraction. I like clean, simple lines and no meaningless stuff just put there to take up space though.

    Jane thanked 3katz4me
  • User
    7 years ago

    I don't think it looks cluttered. Out of the stuff you have, I'd push the birds to the left a little closer together and closer to the picture. Maybe even that the smallest one overlaps a tiny bit of the art. The one on the right might need to move a tad closer as well.

    Jane thanked User
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thanks to everyone who replied so far.

    Here is a pic of the view from the sofa:


    The items feel bigger than they look in the pics.

    Fireplace is being remodeled so I cannot show the whole wall. It will probably look better with the big white mass underneath it to ground it. The mantle will actually look thicker.

    I really love all the pieces. I have had the painting for many years and I have always wanted to fill out that wall. It's the wall I look at the most. The wall looks very blank with only the painting. And I am not one for clutter - I love blank space - this was just blank space that was screaming to be filled or framed or have added dimension. It was a balance issue, I think.

    I have always wanted lanterns. There are three problems with lanterns: First of all, most tall lanterns are too deep for the mantle. Secondly there is problem with symmetry. If I want lanterns on both sides of the painting, and they sit on the mantle, they should be different sizes. It's hard to find a set of proportional lanterns that I like. The painting is also asymmetrical. So I liked the idea of hanging the smaller same-sized lanterns to avoid the symmetry issue and fill out the wall. I also loved the candlelight last night. (Open candles have created smoke marks on that wall in the past - the lanterns have barriers on the top and the jar candles prevent tunneling and hopefully side smoke.) Third, I did not want the lanterns to overpower the painting. I thought these would look like an extension of the painting.

    I might be able to increase the mass of the birds by creating larger vignettes with wood pedestals or something. I'll have to think about that.

    Please keep posting if you have more ideas.

  • k9arlene
    7 years ago

    I'd try removing the lanterns and placing them on the mantel with the birds. They just don't seem right hanging. I don't think you need anything hanging with the picture.

    Jane thanked k9arlene
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Sheeisback, I think that helped. The birds look more like a part of the painting now. The lanterns now feel like they need something under them to ground them, but that may be solved when I get the pillars built for the fireplace surround. I should be able to align the pillars (under the mantle) under the lanterns, because the lanterns are slightly interior to the hearth borders.

    Thanks!

  • aprilneverends
    7 years ago

    I like it. they communicate-the pieces i mean-it's important:) i also think pushing them closer helped

    and yes, sometimes you need to get used to new things. you need some time. even if it was you who chose them.

    Jane thanked aprilneverends
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    k9arlene, that works too, though I feel like I might need taller lanterns. I'll see what the next size up is and if they would command too much attention. I'm a little concerned about the fire near the ficus.

    In this scenario, the eye flows from top line of plants across to mantle decor up to painting and back down to mantle-plant.

    Edit: They have the taller lanterns on sale today! 50% off! About 5" longer and 1" deeper. I am going to try those and compare.

    I considered the black ones, but I don't want that much black and the black lanterns are not on sale.

    Also I found 2 white flameless pillar candles at the consignment shop the other day for $1.13 each! That would solve the ficus proximity issue, and be good for days when I can't handle any more fragrance. (I do prefer the option of real candles though.)

  • User
    7 years ago

    I think the silver lanterns go wonderfully with the soft colors of the painting. They pick up the color of the weathered dock. I think they are too high though. The hooks shouldn't extend over the frame imo. If need be, the painting could go up an inch or two. I'd spray paint the hooks silver so they disappear.

    Jane thanked User
  • erinsean
    7 years ago

    I like your mantel...The only distraction I see is the black hangers on your lanterns...can you paint them the same color as the lantern?

    Jane thanked erinsean
  • cawaps
    7 years ago

    I think the lanterns go with the painting, and the birds go with the painting, but the lanterns don't go with the birds. It's not so much that it is too busy, as that the birds and the lanterns don't play well together. I would change up one or the other element. But do wait until the mantle is painted, as that will affect the overall look.

    I love the painting.

    Jane thanked cawaps
  • User
    7 years ago

    I'd either lose the stuff on top or lose the lanterns. They seem to be "fighting" one another IMO.

    Jane thanked User
  • User
    7 years ago

    I like it, but would like it more with only the ducks. Leave them on the left side but scoot them a bit closer together and a bit to the right. I'd remove the small items on the right side entirely, and allow the ducks to be the only accent on the mantel. They convey the theme so well, and can stand on their own asymmetrically.

    Jane thanked User
  • k9arlene
    7 years ago

    I also was going to suggest flameless candles. I have many and they are easily mistaken for the real thing......especially in a lantern.

    Jane thanked k9arlene
  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    7 years ago

    I'm a little worried about the candles because they pollute the atmosphere and so are not environmentally friendly, and the smoke may also not be good for you, your children and pets. I'm afraid the birds detract from the picture and don't go with the lamps. I would remove them, decide what to do about the candles, finish the fireplace and then go from there. The painting is lovely.

    I have a much larger fireplace and mantel and decorated and redecorated until I thought I'd lose my mind. This is the current version, featuring a 16th century wooden saint figure from the Philippines, a Chinese 2000-year old pottery dog, an antique head of the Buddha and a 19th century Chinese plate. There is a theme there and also these pieces all mean something to me. Try to find objects that mean something to you and also have some relation to the picture, perhaps terms of color, but also in terms of quality.

    Jane thanked ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
  • Christy Reves
    7 years ago

    I think all your decorations will all work but would work better with a wider picture frame. I would consider mounting it in a wide white or silver. It is a lovely picture.

    Jane thanked Christy Reves
  • hamamelis
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If you want to make the accessories more recessive, you could make them lighter. Keep the texture/depth they and their shadows add, but let them mostly blend back into the white wall. Mantle sconces are only one of the items blending into the background to make this space feel larger and less cluttered.

    http://ind5.ccio.co/56/hB/2k/5270625810854916124WfKeJ4c.jpg

    Jane thanked hamamelis
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thanks Everyone!

    I bought the bigger lanterns, but I don't think I like them at all. They are too big for the painting. What do you think? Do you have a preference of the pics below?

    1 - Large lanterns hanging:


    2 - Large lanterns on mantle (ignore black hooks):


    3 - Small lanterns hanging (birds will be closer to painting):


    4 - Small lanterns on mantle (ignore black hooks):


    5 - Large and small lanterns on mantle (ignore black hooks):


    6 - No lanterns (ignore black hooks):


    7 - Small Lanterns plus more stuff (just to explore ideas - I know it's ugly in this pic):


    Here's the idea behind the last pic #7: Add cohesive elements to unite the diverse elements and fill in blank space under lanterns. The root sculpture in this pic is way too big, but I can look for other ones. Or I can play with thick branch formations, or make mini pilings out of a small tree trunk I cut down, or do something with rustic 4x4s. The candles on the right remind me of pilings - I can probably find something more proportional. Maybe I could find some thick jute rope to unite the elements. Or rusty hardware. The (overflowing) raffia in the lantern represents any kind of filler I can add to the lantern. I can temporarily remove any flammable material when I burn a candle with a real flame. (I have mostly soy and vegetable wax candles for cleaner burning, plus the flameless candles.)

    Even though the painting is elegant, the room is much more casual. It's a mix of a lot of stuff that somehow works together for me. I tend to be minimalist, but maybe that's my problem. I can always remove stuff. Think of #7 like putting together a floral arrangement or a holiday mantle.

    I'm going to have to think about this for quite a while. For now I need to decide which lanterns to return. I'd really like to make the lanterns and the birds work, since I get so much joy from them.

    More thoughts are always welcome.








  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Somehow the lanterns aren't working for me. They just don't make any sense, no matter what size. (Maybe because they are shiny metallic, and they clash with the wooden birds.)

    And I'm not digging the pebbles at all.

    Lovely painting. And I like the birds.

    Jane thanked littlebug zone 5 Missouri
  • bossyvossy
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What caught my attention about your thread was that it seems you are creative. The standard candlesticks, vases and family photos (not that there's anything wrong with those) were not for you. I like that! I love the root sculpture and think size is perfect. So how about sculpture on one side, 2 birds on the other side and lanterns off?

    Jane thanked bossyvossy
  • heath (MA Zone 6)
    7 years ago

    I like #7, with the driftwood, but I would remove the lanterns. Love the painting and the birds!

    Jane thanked heath (MA Zone 6)
  • k9arlene
    7 years ago

    How about a tall and short lantern on one side of the mantle and the birds on the other side.

    Jane thanked k9arlene
  • k9arlene
    7 years ago

    If you want to keep the lanterns hanging, I prefer the taller ones.

    Jane thanked k9arlene
  • User
    7 years ago

    The painting needs a wide mat and a wide frame. No lanterns.

    Jane thanked User
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have to return the large lanterns today because they were final sale and they are making an exception for me. (I thought they were returnable and I wasn't warned at the store.)

    I'll think about removing the lanterns if I find another configuration that fills up the space. I can find other places to use them if I have to. The reason I chose silver is because I wanted to repeat the nickel in the fireplace glass doors. There is other nickel in the room, too. I could probably sand and spray them dark bronze if I find that that works better. I really like the design of them. I won't know what works until I finish remodeling the fireplace. For now, I'll enjoy the lanterns and the candlelight.

    Large Root sculptures have been somewhat hard to find. I bought that one years ago to go with my water fountain. It was from petsmart, IIRC.

    Oh well, it's fun to play. It's more fun when you have success, though.

    BTW, the painting is an oil painting. It is not under glass, so I'm not sure how a mat would work, since I don't feel comfortable with exposed paper?

    Another idea is to lower the hooks, spray the hooks and lanterns bronze, then I would have an 18" line of bronze on either side of the painting to frame it, and the lanterns would be more in proximity to the mantle to fill the space, and more color-coordinated with the birds. I'll decide later.

  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I returned the big lanterns. Had to do it today or they wouldn't let me return them. What you don't see in the pics is the massiveness of them coming at you.

    The sales associate didn't care for the hanging lanterns either. I asked her why, we analyzed, and she thought maybe if they were lowered they would look better. I'll try to take a pic tomorrow of the lanterns at an alternative height. I think it helped a lot. But I won't drill any more holes until after the fireplace is finished. The lanterns may look shinier in the pics compared to the painting - the shiny doesn't bother me. There is a lot of shiny and modern in the room, which is why I'm not going all-out rustic. The lanterns have a slightly organic texture (wavy lumpy) and the inside is raw and rough. They are far from perfect and smooth.

    If I lower the lanterns and don't need a high object underneath, I might find some larger white/gray cobblestones and scatter those with the faux succulent I just bought that looks like seaweed to me. It's called donkey tail. It's really beautiful - much prettier than seaweed. I can use it on the mantle like a garland to pull everything together, or let it trail down a vertical surface. I haven't seen it in daylight so I don't know if the green will bother me since most of the rest is blue and neutral.


    http://ab.pbimgs.com/pbimgs/ab/images/dp/wcm/201647/0017/faux-string-of-banana-succulents-o.jpg

  • melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/
    7 years ago

    Maybe the birds together, right under the painting. They're really cute

    Jane thanked melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/
  • Suzieque
    7 years ago

    I love your painting; it's beautiful. I'm in the camp with those that suggest removing the lanterns altogether. I think that they greatly distract from the overall feeling and cheapen the look. In fact, I dislike them a lot :-) Sorry, no offense intended. I really like the picture that bossyvossy posted, above.

    I know you said that you've always loved lanterns. Could you put them someplace else in your room/house?

    Jane thanked Suzieque
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thanks everyone! I think I'm going to stop for now and go with a variation of this:

    The morning light makes the lantern on the right shine like crazy right now. The one on the left is more typical. I put some foil on the right hook to see if I would like to spray it silver, and I think I would like that better since it would blend into the wall more. I didn't like how the hooks were jutting above the painting, but I did like the height of the lanterns since they reminded me of wall sconces. I also included part of the ceiling fan in the pic so you could envision that the lanterns are not so contradictory to the rest of the room. The ceiling fan has brushed nickel blades. It's a Modern Fan, it's not gaudy - more art deco, and it's not as big as it looks in the pic.

    I absolutely love the vine, and I'm going to get another one to use with the vase on the left. Both will be filled with sand for now, which will blend into the wall color. Kiwi bird is seated in this photo. I may cut back the ficus a bit.

    Thank you for all your help, and I do appreciate all the anti-bird and anti-lantern comments. I will continue to consider them. Right now, every one of these pieces "spark joy" (konmari term) so I am going to live with them for awhile.

  • User
    7 years ago

    Move the painting up an inch like I suggested in my other post. You could even move them in a bit so they're not directly over the vases.

    Jane thanked User
  • just_terrilynn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I would do a larger reframe & linen mat on the painting (not a paper product). You do not need glass. You could also do a linen liner to protect the painting from the frame.

    Not liking the lanterns. I would mix some taller birds on the ends for more impact.

    This is just an example, you can do white linen.

    Jane thanked just_terrilynn
  • imacamper
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I would suggest putting the 2 birds on the right and getting a taller feature (like the tall lantern) and put on the left to somewhat balance the ficus tree on the right.

    Jane thanked imacamper
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thank you mayflowers, that one inch helped a lot. I may not want to spray paint the hooks now. From further away, the ceiling fan frames the top area. There is a little more space between the mantle and the painting that I would like, but I will need to add a piece of moulding to the back of the mantle anyway to cover up the screws, so I can play with that design to get the effect I want. (It could be screen moulding or something more substantial.)

    I have some torani syrup bottles (similar to clear wine bottles) that I can use instead of the vases. The vine cascades beautifully out of it, and it looks nice to the outside of the lantern line. It also works with the ocean theme. I may play with adding small white flowers to the vines to differentiate them from the adjacent foliage.

    I still love the lanterns (yes I know they aren't popular here) and the main reason is that I have lived with the painting with no side features for so long and have always hated that aspect of it. I was on the lookout for a couple of tall bird sculptures, but I didn't like anything I saw enough. I fell in love with the mangowood/brass kiwi bird, and then when the ducks became available, I decided to get all 3. But they aren't tall enough to be side features. Another reason I love the lanterns with the painting is that they remind me of a boat house on a dock. I'm a beach girl at heart and it's hard to shake the ocean theme, so we try to make it slightly more elegant and not so cliche. It may still seem kitschy to others.

    I think the vine foliage will extend the line of the lanterns down so the composition will be more cohesive.

    When the black and white fireplace is refinished, is it will be easier to assess the entire wall. (White surround, black box with smokey white interior and natural looking gas logs.)

    I considered a wider frame for the painting a while ago and kept coming back to the thin frame the artist chose. I love how the painting consumes almost the whole rectangle. But I'll consider it again if they lanterns start to annoy me.

  • blubird
    7 years ago

    I think the painting is lovely, but the more things you're adding are taking away from the importance of the picture as a centerpiece of the room. I'd like to see the painting with a mat and a wider frame, raised even a bit more and then I think the birds on the mantel would be just fine. No droopy leafy things, no rocks, novases and no lanterns. Too many clowns.....

    Jane thanked blubird
  • erinsean
    7 years ago

    Please paint the lantern hooks...love the lanterns and like you covering one hook with foil to try it. I would paint the hooks, put the two birds on the left near the corner of your painting and find a taller bird for the other side...nothing else...keep it simple. Since you have plants beside the fireplace, I would't put any vines or plants on the mantel.

    Jane thanked erinsean
  • Jane
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Just for fun, I googled "decorated mantels" images to see how much stuff other people were putting on their mantels. They are putting A LOT of stuff on their mantels. Like it or not, it works from a design/balance perspective.

    Some of the pics reference the concepts of 1-anchor, 2-weight, 3-filler. My problem is 2-weight, and bringing the weight down to the mantel or up alongside the painting if I weren't using hanging lanterns.

    One thing they are doing that I am not is layering. I got a few ideas from that, mostly on how to create mass under the lanterns.

    This is going to be a process, but when I get through it, I'll have a lot more skill. I guess everyone has to go through the process, or get someone else to design it for them. Wheels are turning....

  • User
    7 years ago

    The picture is the star. Its subject matter and the frame are simple, so any additions should also be minimalistic. Now that you raised the painting, I'd spray the hooks and use just the birds.

    Jane thanked User
  • just_terrilynn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Funny you should mention layering Jane. Let me take that opportunity to show you a layered picture lol. With the linen mat I mentioned above (pretend my matting is even and I sized picture correctly). I didn't add all your birds but that would look nice, and another tall bird on the other side.

    WOW

    Ordinary

    Jane thanked just_terrilynn
  • artemis_ma
    7 years ago

    I love the painting. I would love to see it with a wider frame of the same color, but NO mat.

    The ducks are great, and perhaps that driftwood piece in an earlier photo would work. Not too crazy about those lanterns in this location. Keep you eye out for others?

    Jane thanked artemis_ma
  • Laurie Gordon
    7 years ago

    I love your Kiwi, I'd put all three birds together. Raise one for height with a block or a book. You could do the same with the lanterns if they are the same height.

    Jane thanked Laurie Gordon
  • arcy_gw
    7 years ago

    I love it!! If I were going to change anything it would be the metal on the lanterns. Everything else is warm, they are cool. No matter how you have re-arranged it all goes really well together. Hanging or sitting on the mantel both work--it is just a matter of personal preference. I love the addition of the drift wood.

    Jane thanked arcy_gw
  • OutsidePlaying
    7 years ago

    Have you tried putting all the birds together on one end near the corner of the painting. Then put both lanterns on the other end. I love the painting, but agree with whoever said it might need a wider frame (not necessarily a mat), just maybe a whitewashed or distressed pale wood. Something very simple.

    Jane thanked OutsidePlaying
  • User
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree with justerrilynn. Her mockup really shows how more substantial framing would draw your eyes in to the painting. The current frame is not bad, it's just not really doing much to complement the painting. I like very simple frames of that style, but think they're best on large canvas paintings that already command attention.

    Jane thanked User
  • Suzieque
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Justerrilynn's WOW is absolutely fabulous.

    Jane thanked Suzieque
  • Christy Reves
    7 years ago

    I agree. It seems however that you are attached to the lanterns and the idea of using them. In that case I might suggest mounting the hooks on a piece of driftwood or barn wood to mimic the picture deck wood. Hang the wood planks with hooks and dangle the lanterns from the hooks. What you would be doing is creating a sconce. I think this application would also bring a dimension of blue grey tying it all together. Good luck.

    Jane thanked Christy Reves
  • aputernut
    7 years ago

    No it looks good leave as is, change things up later if you get bored with it.

    Jane thanked aputernut
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