On the mantel: September

September mantel
A little glimpse at my sitting room mantelpiece…

You may recall that our house is in a near permanent state of being done upness. (I’m pretty sure that’s the official term that all property developers / architects / interior designers use…)

We have little flurries of activity here and there, but fundamentally progress is slooooow.

The last few weeks, however, have been one of those rather wonderful periods of flurry. Brought about, as is usually the case, by having booked a tradesperson to come and do some work, which necessitates us getting of our lazy behinds and doing a lot of work beforehand…

In this instance, it was an excellent carpenter (female!) who came and built shelves and a lovely cabinet in the alcoves of our sitting room. Necessitating us to actually get round to painting the sitting room first. (I may be lazy, but there is no way I am going to risk spilling paint on some exceedingly expensive bespoke shelves by painting the walls after they’ve gone in…)

So, as I sit here writing this on the sofa, I am looking not at bare plaster walls, with a bare pine mantelpiece and a load of boxes all around me, but at some beautiful grey walls, lovely books on even nicer shelves and… …well, the mantelpiece is primed, though still needing its final coats of paint.

For the first time since we’ve lived here, this room is starting to feel like a home I would actually choose to spend time in.

Rather fortuitously, just as I was thinking about how nice it will be to arrange things on the mantelpiece, I came across a wonderfully evocative piece on Gillian’s blog, Tales from a Happy Home, with some pictures of her September mantelpiece. Did anyone else fancy joining in? she asked. I was already feeling tempted but was completely won over as I went on to read:

“It’s not about styling or making things looks beautiful necessarily (although that is fun). It’s more about the meaning behind beloved objects and pictures, and the place nature has in our lives, and the way we humans like to surround ourselves with treasures and memories throughout the year.”

So here I am, a whole load of wittering at the top of the article first, but finally ready to begin what will hopefully become a new monthly series showing you what’s on my mantelpiece.

September is an auspicious month to start. Perhaps because it’s the month of my birthday it’s always been one of my favourite times of the year. The flowers on the right of the picture were a birthday bouquet from the hubby, stuck in my favourite flower arranging vestibule: an Ikea jug. (The same jug of fame from my post about attempts at styling…)


Bouquet | Wolves in London
Lovely birthday flowers

You can see the hubby himself in miniature form next to the flowers. This little peg doll version of us was painted by him for the top of our wedding cake. This month is also that of our first wedding anniversary and the card behind was from the hubby to me on that auspicious occasion. We first met out in the Philippines on a marine conservation expedition five years ago and hit it off straight away. But it was upon discovering a mutual love of lindy hop (swing dancing) that we really connected. Though, realising that we went to the same class in London (me in beginners, him an hour later in intermediate) was temporarily so freaky that it actually put me off a bit, ha ha.

Wedding cake toppers | Wolves in London
Diddy me, diddy him

The bowl with the lion on has recently come out of storage as we’ve finally put up some shelves in the kitchen for all our crockery. It was part of our wedding crockery and is a mighty fine holder for conkers as well.

Conkers in soup bowl | Wolves in London
This is the first year the sproglet has really enjoyed conkers. It feels like a rather momentous childhood occasion…

The picture behind it was a present from sister for my birthday last year. As we’ve not had a decorated house since then, this is the first time it’s come out into the open air. I love it. A lot.

Wolves in London mantelpiece
My sister knows me well, I don’t think you could get a picture more up my street…

The huge bronze urn belonged to my Granny. When she moved into a home a few years ago, she left everything in her house and I went round one evening with my Dad, collecting a few things that I liked. I adore the urn, but am not entirely sure about keeping it on the mantelpiece – I think it looks a little bit as if we have someone’s ashes in there, no?

Urn | Wolves in London
Beautiful but a little sinister in that position I think. Must find it somewhere else to sit…

Underneath it, a selection of poetry books. I am currently absolutely addicted to the website The Book People (www.thebookpeople.co.uk). Have you come across it? When I worked in the communications department of a giant corporate bank they used to come and do book sales outside the canteen once a month, but I’ve only just realised they also sell online. There’s a huge amount of commercial tat, as you’d expect from a large discount bookseller, but you can pick up some absolute gems for next-to-nothing as well. These beautiful books cost me a few pounds I think. It’s pretty great for birthday presents, especially for children. (Lots of Julia Donaldson on there too…)

Poetry books | Wolves in London
Oh these just look far too beautiful not to be on display

(Yes, yes, I know I shouldn’t be buying books on the cheap from a website, but should instead be putting money into my local independent and absolutely wonderful bookshop, it’s just I am so fricking skint right now, I can only really afford books if they’re massively discounted in the first place.)

(Even as I write that, it sounds like a bad argument to me, so, hmmm, perhaps I should stop using the Book People and just buy fewer books at a normal price.)

But anyway, onwards…

The fireplace below is glorious isn’t it? When we moved in, the original fireplace had been removed and instead we had a 1960s electric fire, which looked as if it might be about to set the whole house alight while we slept. We ripped it out and got this original one in its place (bought from the wonderful Blue Mantle on the Old Kent Road for anyone interested and local…)

Oh, and finally, the clock is just our clock. No story there, ha ha…

So, that’s it, the September mantelpiece. Come and have another look in October will you? Hopefully by next month I will have painted it properly as well… And thanks so much to Gillian for inspiring me to join in.

15 thoughts on “On the mantel: September

  1. Hi There Just a little not to say thanks for the seed packet templates I have printed off and stuck together and am using baking parchment to wrap up the seeds. Lovely Thanks helen Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:03:58 +0000 To: hharrison1965@hotmail.com

  2. Oh I love this idea! I think I may just have to join in (and how serendipitous, as we have just redone OUR dining room and have updated our mantelpiece! It is also, ironically, our wedding anniversary this month as well!)

    I agree, that urn does look like it could contain Great Aunt Agnes’ Ashes…. 😉

  3. Wonderful! Thank you for joining in. I like the way you celebrated your anniversary month with those adorable peg dolls, and the bowl with conkers is such a nice nod to autumn. You have really gorgeous taste, by the way, and are blessed with a nice deep mantel on top of that beautiful fire place. Ours is titchy, so I have to be really careful what i put up there. x

    1. Awww, thanks! Yes, the mantel is good — I want to get a mirror to go over the top as well, but am worried that might eat into the space. Decisions, decisions! There is something so wonderful about mantelpiece arranging though; this is the first place I’ve owned where it’s a possibility. Makes me feel mighty grown up, heh heh.

  4. Hi there Sabrina, your mantel looks great! Those peg dolls of you and hubby are so cute. Um, I think you’re right about the urn there. Lovely as it is, maybe there’s a home on the new shelves for it? Oh I meant to say, completely off topic, that I’ve made some damson gin!! x

    1. Thanks so much — I love those little peg dolls too. Have been meaning to blog about them ever since the wedding, so, erm, a year has passed with nothing yet!

      Yum yum, damson gin. Please post some to me! xx

  5. I’ve not seen your blog before, but it certainly looks interesting. I happened upon it after reading comments on Gillian’s latest post about her mantel. Strange thing is, I’ve been arranging my mantel differently at various times of the year – glass and ceramics in summer, bronze and copper lustre in autumn and winter. It’s nice that others do this, too.
    Margaret P

  6. I love your mantel and all your gorgeous treasures! I know that state of undoneupness too. We’re in five years this Christmas and we’re still making our house a home. I’m a bit sad about our mantelpiece. We had an accident earlier this year where it fell away from the wall. It was limestone and smashed into possibly a million bits! Faulty installation not covered by insurance. So depressing! We’re saving our pennies to replace it. You are inspiring me to save harder. Thank you! Bee xx

  7. Oh I love your styled mantle! Those little pegs are gorgeous. How lovely it is that your husband made them. I have to agree that styling a mantle should be a collection of things you love and treasure. Definitely gives it more meaning. xD

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