Natural Greenery Christmas Mantel in Southern Living Idea House

Recently a friend and I toured the Southern Living Idea House in Senoia, Georgia. Senoia is a very small town about an hours drive from Atlanta.

We were allowed to take pics inside since the home had already been published. πŸ™‚ I took a bunch of pics but I wasn’t able to get full views of many rooms because there were always a gazillion people around.

I have too many pics to share them all in one post but today I wanted to show some views of the keeping room and some close up shots of the mantel. I’m hoping you will be able to help me figure out what was used to create this amazingly lush mantel dressing.

The pic of the Keeping Room below is from Southern Living online and was obviously taken prior to the decorating that was done for Christmas. See how narrow that mantel looks…wait until you see it decorated for Christmas!

The following pics were taken on the tour. This is the Christmas tree in the keeping room.

Wow…check out this mantel! Do you think they added a board or something on top of the mantel? How else could they have gotten all of this gorgeous greenery to fit on that narrow little mantel? Keep this in mind if you have a skinny mantel. It’s obviously possible to have a lush, full mantel dressing even if your mantel is a bit on the narrow side.

I think it may be a bit beyond it’s prime…but it’s still beautiful! Can you just imagine what it looked like when it was fresh?!

Okay, let’s dissect this thing. I definitely see some magnolia leaves…maybe a little Leyland cypress or cedar…not sure which.

Do you think those wide green leaves that are curled around are corn stalk leaves? They almost look like ribbon the way they are done. I don’t know what the reddish dried blooms are…or the white thingies. Maybe the long white things are wheat? I really need to get out more, don’t I? πŸ˜‰

I think I see a bit of Georgia pine…

What are these wonderful berries? Sorry about the blurry pic…I need to invest in a macro lens for my camera. I hope Santa reads this blog. πŸ˜‰ So, what do you think? Please leave a comment naming all the plants you can identify. I’d really love to know how this gorgeous mantel dressing was created. I would love to see a tutorial on how a mantel dressing like this is made. I love how lush it is…just beautiful and all from nature’s bounty.

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  1. Madigan at madiganmade says

    Wow. That mantel is amazing!

  2. I'm going to be contrary and say it looks a little crawley, like it could harbor bugs. I like the idea, but it's a bit overdone for my taste.

  3. I see Ti leaves (folded over to form loops) and salal (lemon leaf). Can't decide what else. They probably put it on a separate board and glued it in or nailed it.

  4. Hi Susan, what a magnificent mantel!!! I just love it….I'm not sure on the names of all the pines but I can tell you the 'white stuff' isn't wheat. At least it's not like we grow here in Australia. Ours is a more yellow colour and also quite straight.
    I'm sure you will create something just as beautiful.

  5. Definitely Magnolia leaves. I wonder if they were already dried when they put them in there? Those look like corn stalks leaves for sure. The kind that grow on the inside corn plants.I wouldn't think they would still be green if they had been in there very long.
    I used to know a lady that took magnolia leaves and did some kind of process on them. They were very sheer afterwards, and she made flower arrangements from the leaves. Very unique and different.

  6. I think the long white seed heads are some sort of amaranth. I love natural decorating!

  7. Wow, that's really something! I wouldn't be surprised if they did add a support board under that greenery. I see magnolia, pine, cypress, boxwood or Japanese holly, and quite a bit more that I don't recognize! I've never thought of doing JUST greenery on a mantel, but this looks sensational!

  8. Sandy at Teacup Lane says

    I love it. I think it is gorgeous! I thought I saw big green ribbons but I think it's a plant leaf??? Very stunning. I have a narrow mantel and would love to do something like this.

  9. White is Amaranth, redbrown is sorgam or broom straw, lots of types of conifers here.
    They used a pick machine and picked the top mantle pieces whereas the sides are wired into a garland. There is a piece of strofoam on top – maybe not oasis and not kept wet.

  10. Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) says

    Bernideen…I'd love to see a tutorial of one of these made! πŸ™‚

  11. Susan, That mantel is beautiful!!

  12. Not sure what the reddish brown things are, but I have a ton of them in the back yard. They get about 4-5 feet tall (maybe taller in other areas) and bloom late summer/early fall. I figure they are some type of allergy inducing weed, but they are pretty, so I leave them alone.

  13. Susan, this mantle and tree look like fall-inspired decorations to me. I'm sure they just wanted to put up one type of decorations to fit both seasons. Since these photos were taken in the fall my guess is fall decorations.
    Plus, the ribbons are all rust colored (on the tree) and they used fall plants and leaves. The only part that doesn't look right are the presents under the tree wrapped with obvious Christmas paper. I like 'fall' to look like fall and 'Christmas' to be obvious as well!

  14. Kristen White says

    What a gorgeous mantle…just stunning!

  15. Pattie @ Olla-Podrida says

    STUNNING! I had to laugh at myself, I started thinking, boy I can't wait to get Thanksgiving out of the way so I can start decorating for Christmas. Don't worry, I shook it off and am back on track.

  16. Wow. Beautiful!

    I wish we had a Mantel. Thats one thing I miss about our last place. Fireplace and Mantel.

    As far as those large curled leaves. They remind me of my small banana plant in the side yard, but I know it's not that. It does look like cornstalk leaves.

  17. I love the lushness of this mantle. I am betting that a lager, wider (deeper) board was nailed over the mantle to accomodate all this. I like the color scheme of the tree and mantle but agree that I would ahve wrapped the presents in coordinating paper!!! I sure wish I could give you a tutorial!!! YOu would use styrofoam and GLUE IT DOWN GOOD to pick the mantle pieces and wire the things onto the sides of the garland. I imagine they started with a garland and imbellished it. XOXO, Pinky

  18. Southern Season says

    I think the dried material is dock….It is a weed that is wonderful filler for fresh designs in Spring/Summer….It dries beautifully….

  19. Barb @ GritsandGlamour says

    Love, love, love this. I think the red-brown dried blooms are millet. I have grown this in the past and the birds flock to your yard like crazy. Yuo're right, this must have been stunning when it was fresh. I think an artificial garland was wired to the thin mantlepiece, and they just used that as a base and kept adding wired stems and layer after layer. Thats how I would have done it at least. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  20. This is so beautiful! Nothing like it would ever survive in my home with all the teenagers and the toddler running around.

  21. That is a good idea to use a board for a narrow mantel. I wonder how you would mount it without damaging the mantle?

  22. bcp.....My Life says

    I use nothing except fresh greenery! I use a ton of it every year. This is the permalink from last Christmas.

  23. mydesignchic says

    Now I know how I'm going to decorate my mantels for Christmas…perfection!!

  24. Blondie's Journal says

    Gorgeous mantel!

    Can you send me some magnolia leaves? ;-D


  25. I'm going to guess that since Southern Living did the mantel in this Georgia idea house that they would used plants that are indigenous to Georgia. We did as a child here in Florida. I see Magnolia, Bitter sweet, Juniper, Cypress,Fairywand, Cast iron plant, Maybe Ginger and what looks like rice?

    It is beautiful. I love the natural look.~Ames

  26. Mid-Atlantic Martha says

    Beautiful — and I really thought those green leaves were ribbons at first! Stunning!

  27. Beautiful mantle. I love anything real and fresh. I think the orange berry is bittersweet.

    Very nice home and I look forward to more pictures.

  28. This is absolutely gorgeous!

  29. I agree that the folded leaf looks like cast iron plant. I don't see bittersweet, but rather I think the berries are pyracantha. I see either lemon leaf or ligustrum, boxwood, cedar, juniper, magnolia the other things I am clueless.

    LOVELY! and so striking!


  30. Personalized Sketches and Sentiments says

    Beautiful :o) I agree with Kenju regarding the folded leaves…they look like Ti leaves, that my hubby's family in Hawaii have all in and around their yards.

    Blessings & aloha!
    (Oh…did I ask you this before…are you from Georgia? We live right outside Savannah, Georgia…courtesy of the military when my hubby was assigned on the southern Georgia coast :o)

  31. Wow! That's beautiful! No wheat that I can see & I have lived in Kansas more than 50 years. I believe the the rust colored seed heads look like maize, but not the large heads that a farmer would grow as a cash crop. Maybe it was a 'lean' harvest after a dry growing season. I think the berries look like rose hips.

  32. Patricia Torres says

    Thats the most amazing mantle.. I've ever seen.. wow!! wow!! Love all the decor.. I'm inspired to start on my christmas decor now.. πŸ™‚

  33. Sandi (Meme) says

    Definitely no wheat in this arrangement, and the red heads are millet or milo. Thanks for sharing! Sandi

  34. That mantle is stunning I love a lush look in floral design of any kind.

  35. Even if it's a bit past it's prime, I think it's the most beautiful Christmas mantle I've ever seen!


  36. I like the assorted firs and other evergreens used here, and magnolia leaves are traditional to the South. I would have guessed the reddish-brown clusters to be from a sumac, but I could be wrong. I do believe the folded leaves are from a cast iron plant, and the berries appear to be pyracantha (maybe), but definitely not bittersweet. Gorgeous mantle! This gives me ideas for my own…

  37. The berries remind me of pyracantha which comes in several varities. I've always been partial to the deep orange and use it for Thanksgiving decor….it lasts and lasts. franki

  38. Hello Susan,
    this mantle garland is really outstanding. The red berries look for me like rose hips of Rosa Carolina. See here:
    Greetings, Johanna

  39. ~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ says

    Vary nice Susan. Thanks for sharing. Got to get back to the kitchen and my pumpkin pies. What fun!
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  40. Meadowsweet Days says

    Hi Susan,

    The greenery.. I see sprays of Cryptomeria, Bottle Brush Pine, Balsam, Boxwood, and Lemon Leaves . Dried clusters of berries I think could be Rose Hips and Sumac. This whole arrangement was most probably done in Oasis, which is a dried floral foam soaked in water and then most probably mounted in a tray. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
    Northport, NY

  41. Gorgeous! And there's no way I could name all that. I'd love to use something like that here, but my cats have an irrational fondness for anything green. That fireplace is simple and beautiful.

  42. Each year, the Southern Living Christmas Book has photographs of mantels draped with greenery. They usually suggest the mantel be covered with thick plastic and lined with trays or shallow containers holding wet floral oasis. The greenery is then inserted into the foam. The oasis that comes in little plastic "cages" often supports the heavier greens better. You might need to anchor the trays to the plastic, and the plastic to the mantel, with some type of temporary adhesive, just to keep it all from sliding off! I agree with others that the side garlands are probably wired or tied to strong twine, before being anchored to the mantel.
    Thank you for the holiday inspiration!

  43. Each year, the Southern Living Christmas Book shows mantels draped with greenery. Instructions usually begin with covering the mantel with thick plastic. The mantel is lined with trays or shallow containers holding wet floral oasis. The oasis that comes in plastic "cages" may better support the weight of heavier greenery. You might need to anchor the plastic to the mantel, and then the trays to the plastic, with some type of temporary adhesive. I agree with others that the side garlands were most likely wired or tied with strong twine and then attached at top.
    Thank you for sharing such lovely holiday inspiration!

  44. Sue (Someone's Mom) says

    Now I really miss my fireplace:( That is gorgeous!

  45. Hi Susan,
    Lovely mantel. I think they either added width with a board or they wired everything together very thoroughly. I think the large green ribbon leaves could be banana leaves and I also saw magnolia leaves, lemon leaves, cypress, pine, juniper and I think the seed pods are millet and the little pumpkin shapes are some kind of rose hips. Good luck!

  46. Jenny Harris says

    Wow, so pretty! I can't help you on the greenery identification, sorry. But wow, it's fantastic!

    I like the tree too – very different from what I usually do, but maybe a tree decorated this way is in our future??? πŸ™‚

  47. FABBY'S LIVING says

    WOW! what an incredible mantel, it is gorgeous. I would love to make one like it this Christmas coming! Thank you.


  48. Beth @ UnskinnyBoppy says

    Ask and ye shall receive! πŸ™‚

    I just pinned your photo today after googling "leland cypress garland" and then saw this tutorial from Southern Living pinned just a few hours later! What a coincidence! They tell all the names of the greenery, along with instructions on how they made it.

  49. Beth @ UnskinnyBoppy says

    Ask and ye shall receive! πŸ™‚

    I just pinned your photo today after googling "leland cypress garland" and then saw this tutorial from Southern Living pinned just a few hours later! What a coincidence! They tell all the names of the greenery, along with instructions on how they made it.

  50. Do you know, or can you get, the names of the paint colors used in this house? I know that the ceilings are all window pane from Sherwin Williams, but what was used on the master bedroom and bath, and kitchen and living room and keeping rooms?

    • Sorry, Suzanne…I don’t know them. If you google for Southern Living Idea house in Senoia Georgia, you should find the original website for that Idea House and the colors may be listed there. If they aren’t, the articles they used to have online about the house mentioned the builder’s name and the decorator’s name. If you find that in the article, I bet you’ll find them online and can ask. Ballard Designs was involved with some of the furnishings so they might know who the decorator was, too.

    • Suzanne, I just looked and I found this. It appears Sherwin Williams was the paint company
      This video at the bottom of this page shows you who the architect was Click on the one that says: Abercorn Place House Plans.
      The architect was Jim Strickland and I bet he could tell you the colors or direct you to the decorator who could tell you. If I find any other info online, I’ll leave another comment for you.
      When you google, google Southern Living Idea House 2010 in Senoia, because they also did one in 2012 and that’s not the one you want for the colors.

    • Suzanne, I just discovered when you click on the video for each room (at that link I left in my previous comment that shows all the videos) the designer for that room talks about the room. I’m not sure if they will give the exact color but at least you’ll have the decorator’s name so you can contact them. πŸ™‚ I bet they would be happy to share the paint colors they used.

  51. Diane Stover Leyh says

    The red berries are from a Nandina shrub, it is a local plant in the south. I forget where it is originally from, but it grows like crazy.

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