Traditional Fall Mantel

September is a wonderful month with its early fall color, blue skies, and warm days with cooler nights.  This year’s fall decor in our formal living room started with a Traditional Fall Mantel decorated with classic fall colors of orange, yellow, and brown.

Mantel decorated for fall in a traditional style

Fall Ideas Tour

I’m thrilled to share my mantel as part of a Fall Ideas Tour.  Be sure to check out the other mantels shared today, you’ll find links at the end of this post, and come back Tuesday for Fall Tablescapes, Wednesday for Fall Wreaths, Thursday for Fall Crafts/DIY, and Friday for Fall Porches.  I’m really looking forward to the ideas that will be shared this week.

Fall Ideas Tour

Traditional Fall Mantel

Traditional Fall Mantel - A mantel decorated with a painting of a mill in Sussex County, NJ along with fall foliage, bittersweet, and mums.

Neutral is not in my decor vocabulary and I used warm colors of fall for my traditional fall mantel.  Traditional refers to my color palette and also to my use of classic fall foliage paired with bittersweet.

Art over the Mantel

Traditional Fall Mantel - A mantel decorated with a painting of a mill in Sussex County, NJ by William Miller along with fall foliage and bittersweet.

The art over my mantel is a recent find at an antique mall in Concord, NC. 

When cleaning the frame and back of this painting, I found a note written on the wood that said, “Sussex County Cider Mill”.

Traditional Fall Mantel - A mantel decorated with a painting of a mill in Sussex County, NJ along with fall foliage, bittersweet, and mums.

After a quick Internet search, I learned that the mill in the painting is from the 1860’s and is  located in the Kittatinny Mountains of northern New Jersey.  It’s known as Haney’s Mill and over the years was used as a gristmill, sawmill, and a cider mill.  By the 1950’s it was in bad shape and a hurricane destroyed it.

Bittersweet Garland

Traditional Fall Mantel - A mantel decorated with a painting of a mill in Sussex County, NJ along with fall foliage and bittersweet.

On the mantel I used a bittersweet garland that I purchased at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, VA late last fall.  Tour the stone house at Black Dog Salvage here and read about my family connection here.

Bittersweet used to decorate a mantel for fall.

I love using real bittersweet but it doesn’t turn orange until after frost, so it’s too early to clip any in the woods now.  This faux garland looks pretty realistic to me, plus it’s less messy than the real stuff.

Bittersweet used to decorate a mantel for fall.

Bittersweet is an invasive plant and if harvested from the woods, it should be thrown in the trash, not into the woods or a compost pile after its use in decorating.  It grows in several patches along a trail near my home and each fall I cut some to use in my home while walking Sherman.

Fall Foliage in Acorn Filled Vases

Traditional Fall Mantel - A mantel is decorated for fall with fall foliage, bittersweet, and mums.

Two glass vases filled with fall foliage, faux from Hobby Lobby, flank the ends of the mantel.

Fall foliage in glass vases anchored with acorns on a mantel with a bittersweet garland

The vases are filled with acorns picked up on weekend walks with Sherman at Smith Mountain State Park.

Fall foliage in glass vases anchored with acorns on a mantel with a bittersweet garland

The leaves in my neck of the woods won’t be at their peak of color until mid-October but their green color is already starting to fade.

Fall foliage in glass vases anchored with acorns on a mantel with a bittersweet garland

I hate to see summer go but I am looking forward to seeing fall foliage here in Virginia and also in Vermont on our now annual leaf peeping trip.

Decorating the Hearth

Knox New York hat boxes along with a mum in a vintage basket tin decorate a fireplace hearth for fall.

I typically use a wooden box or large basket filled with dried gourds for fall fireplace hearth decor.  This year I used two hat boxes and a basket tin filled with a yellow mum.

Knox New York hat boxes along with a mum in a vintage basket tin decorate a fireplace hearth for fall.

When I was in college, my grandmother gave me these hat boxes to use for storage in my dorm room.  They have been in use ever since.

The tin was also my grandmother’s and it usually is in use in my pantry storing medicine.  The medicine was moved to another vintage tin so that I could use the tin on my fireplace hearth.

Last Look

Traditional Fall Mantel - A mantel is decorated for fall with fall foliage anchored in glass vases filled with acorns along with bittersweet, mums, vintage hat boxes, and a vintage painting of a mill in Sussex County, NJ.

In front of the fireplace are two wingback chairs that my mom scored for me at her church’s sale for just $5 each.  I made the pillows on each chair using material that belonged to my late mother-in-law.  A plaid blanket scarf adds a pop of color to one of the chairs and ups the room’s cozy factor.

Visit my Summer to Fall Transitional Decor Ideas post to learn more about the vintage pottery seen on the table and on the music stand to the left of the fireplace.  If you need some fall coffee table decor ideas, check out my Fall Coffee Table Vignette.

Please pin this post to your favorite fall board on Pinterest to remember for later.


Mantel decorated for fall in a traditional style

Get Inspired for Fall

Now it’s time to get some fall inspiration from my blogging friends!  We are sharing ideas all week, so be sure to come back each day to visit the participating bloggers.

Monday – Mantels

Tuesday – Tablescapes


 Sand Dollar Lane / Aratari at Home / Nourish and Nestle
  Salvaged Living / Our Southern Home

Wednesday – Wreaths

Petticoat Junktion / Lora Bloomquist / Exquisitely Unremarkable
Bliss Ranch / The Interior Frugalista / Chatfield Court

Thursday – Crafts & DIY

Domestically SpeakingDIY Beautify
HomeroadChristina Faye Repurposed
not pictured Weekend Craft

Friday – Porches

More Fall Inspiration


    1. Thank you, Shelley! We had a good time collecting acorns and since I filled these containers, I’ve filled a small bowl with more.


  1. Paula, I love you traditional fall mantel. That artwork was such a special find and I particularly like the way your blue curtains flank all that fall beauty. So cozy.

  2. Paula, you always have the best stories and inspiration! It’s so sad that the cider mill is no longer in existence, but wonderful that you have a beautiful painting to capture its existence. We also love that your sweet grandmother gifted you such practical storage with these pretty hat boxes. A true treasure and memory!

  3. I’m a color girl, too, Paula! I love your mantle with all the sweet touches from your grandmother. You must smile every time you glance at them. And I love that you know the history behind the painting. I think the stories behind the pieces makes the decor even more special! Enjoy your fall view!

  4. I always love the stories behind your decor, Paula. That painting is so pretty and is perfect over the mantel. And that bittersweet is nice and colorful. I never see any around here. Maybe I need to take more walks in the woods! Love the hatboxes too. I actually had some just like those but must have parted with them at some point over the years. The colors are great for fall and look nice on your hearth. So happy you’re on tour again this year! Have a great week. ~Angie

    1. Thank you so much for hosting the tour, Angie. I look forward to it every year. Bittersweet turns orange after frost. It is a vine that grows in trees and it’s pretty easy to spot once the colors turn. Here the berries are still green. When I see a patch, I make a mental note if it is in a place where I can easily reach it so I’ll remember to clip from that area in October. Looking forward to the ideas shared on the tour this week!


  5. Love, love, love the fall colors with those blue drapes. Wowzers! Such a beautiful pop! And your sentimental pieces…the art…the hat boxes….how very sweet. And I’m diggin’ the vintage vibe. So very lovely, Paula! Happy Fall XO

    1. Thank you so much, Kristie! I’m hoping to learn more about the artist of the painting. If I’m lucky, maybe he’s famous!


    1. Thank you, Christina! I’m lucky to have inherited family treasures to use for decorating. Both sets of grandparents grew up in the depression and didn’t throw anything away. I love sharing the history behind what I use for my decorating.


  6. I love the bittersweet and orange leaves in this room with the blue curtains, Paula! And it all coordinates so beautifully with your art. Looks like you’re well on your way with Fall Decor!

    1. Thank you, Pam! The curtains are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and I really do like them. The blue works for decorating in any season. Looking forward to seeing your porch on Friday.


    1. Thank you, Susan! I was so happy to find the Bittersweet garland late last fall. I had a hunch that it would work on my mantel and I was right. It’s great to be on the tour with you this week.


    1. Hi, Cynthia. Be aware that the links for days later in the week won’t be live until that day. It’s Thursday as I type this, so the links for Monday through Thursday are live and work. On the 17th when you left your message, the links for Monday and Tuesday should have been working. I’ve been clicking through them each day to visit each blogger on the tour, and they have worked for me. I am very sorry if they didn’t work for you and I hope you’ll try again so that you don’t miss all of the great ideas shared. Thank you for letting me know that you had trouble and I hope that now you’ll be able to see all of the posts except for Friday.


  7. Hi Paula!

    I love your mantle and all the stories! We live in NC and every time we drive up north I say to myself, “I really want to stop at Black Dog Salvage!!” but I never get there! And now to learn that you have a tie there! Ugh, I need to make it a priority.

    And the story of your Cider Mill is lovely…we really only hang art that has ‘a story’ behind it and your Cider Mill surely does!

    OK…and I didn’t know all that about Bittersweet! It is such a lovely plant…didn’t know it was so invasive.

    Well…my Tuesday is complete! I’ve had the opportunity to view your lovely mantle and learned quite a bit along the way.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    So happy to join you on this fantastic blog tour!

    Hugs, Lynn

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Lynn. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Black Dog Salvage. It really is an interesting spot to visit. There is a parking lot for the Roanoke greenway behind BDS and it’s a really nice path to walk on. We usually do that with our dog when we go there.

      I’m eyeing the spots of Bittersweet in the woods and even though I hate to see summer end, I look forward to harvesting some of the real thing to use for decorating this fall.


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  9. So pretty. I did not know that about bittersweet, and was sad we had none growing in our woods. I guess I should be thankful, but it sure is pretty to decorate with.

    1. Keep your eyes open this fall for Bittersweet. Once you discover where it grows, then you can cut some from that spot each year.


  10. How cool is that when you learned of the history behind the painting and the connection it has to your family history with Black Dog Salvage. You were meant to have that painting! Your mantel looks lovely, Paula! I like your idea of filling the glass vessels with acorns gathered on her walks. A beautiful traditional fall vignette.

    1. Thank you, Marie! I am hoping that my friend can uncover information about the artist of the painting. She was a detective for the first part of her career and she’s amazing at uncovering information on the Internet. I like free and picking up acorns as I walked Sherman was a great way to get free filler for the vases on the mantel. If a lot of acorns means a hard winter, then Virginia just might be in for it this year as the acorns are very plentiful. It’s great to be on the tour with you!


      1. How fun! I hope she’s successful in her quest and you write about it on the blog. Oh oh, hopefully the acorns a plentiful is just coincidence. Great to be on the tour with you too, Paula!

    1. I was so excited when I spotted this painting in the NC antique mall. It’s a huge place and I didn’t immediately decide to buy it. As I browsed the mall, I couldn’t stop thinking about it so at the end of the shopping trip, I went back to look at it a second time and decided that I had to have it.


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  12. Hi, Paula, really enjoyed the stories in your decorating. They are truly inspiring! Your mantel is very pretty. I especially love the hat boxes next to the fireplace! Great job for Fall

    1. Thank you, Kim! This is the first time that I’ve used the hat boxes for decor out of a bedroom and I really like how they look on my fireplace hearth.


    1. It was, Kathy! I was so excited when cleaning revealed the handwriting. The person who had this in their booth must have only cleaned the front side of the frame. I’m hoping that the artist may be well known and I scored something great. We’ll see what my friend can discover about the artist.


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  14. This is really lovely Paula. I like the tip you included about the invasiveness of the plant and to throw it in the garbage – I didnt know that! The painting if the old mill is so pretty, very fall!

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