Back-to-School Mantelscape

Don’t yell!  I know we are all in full Summer mode right now, but the school bell will be ringing before you know it and we just wanted to share this great idea–originally posted on September 13, 2016–for a back-to-school decorating project that will have you and your kiddos excited for the first day of school! Whether you homeschool or do public school, this is a fun and creative idea.  I might do it myself and my kids are grown–ahh, but I do have grandchildren…

I have never, ever thought much about a mantel-scape.  My house is not brimming with magazine-level decor or “scapes” of any kind, really.

But the thought of having a finite area to decorate kind of appealed to me when I began to mull it over.

And since the hubs and I built a new mantel last year, it really is due for an upgrade in the decor department.  I just threw the look pictured below together quickly to keep it from being naked.  I posted our DIY pic on Facebook and when a former Maven (hi, Kara!) mentioned in a comment that she couldn’t wait to see what I would do with it, I was a little stymied.


What would I do with it?

It was only recently that the idea began to form.  Wouldn’t it be fun to do something different each month?  Nothing extravagant, and mostly consisting of items already in the house.

Yes, that could work.

So, as much as I’d love to jump onto the Halloween theme now (I’ve already been playing with some items for it), I figured September is best pigeon-holed as “back to school” month.

And while we are a homeschooling family with no school bus stops by our driveway, we are “back” at it this month!  So, yeah….I’m lovin’ it.


What you see is mostly items scavenged from around our home.  In fact, why don’t I just list for you the breakdown?

 Found at Home
encyclopedias & books
ruler & pencils in cup
wooden puzzle
chalkboard blocks
clipboard with worksheet
flannel board
 Made for This Project
felt ABC & 123
page bunting
 Purchased for This Project
jute for bunting
artificial apples

Wow!  Just typing it out I’m thinking, “How cool is it that you can pull something together like this with stuff you already have?”  I LOVE IT! 

And really, the basic ideas to keep in mind are:

  • vary the heights of the objects (high and low)
  • balance the colors (sprinkle them throughout and focus on a few colors)
  • balance the “weight” (doesn’t necessarily have to be symmetrical, it should just feel balanced)
  • use pics of other mantelscapes that you like as a guide


I bought the jute for $4 and a bag of fake apples for  $9.99 (but there were 6 in there–and yes I bought it specifically for the mantel but that’s only because my old fake apples from a Thanksgiving arrangement finally bit the dust after too much hot/cold attic storage!).  Pretty cheap mantel!


Now, I have to confess that, never having cared about a themed mantelscape before now, I really didn’t know where to start!  Oh, Pinterest…you amazing idea generator, you!  Yes, Pinterest saved the day.  I pretty much used an image on there for my template and just ran with it from there.  And that’s how I roll, really.  I’m not super great at completely original ideas, but I AM super great at taking an existing idea and developing it.  


The main inspiration image I saw used dictionary pages for the page bunting.  I thought about cutting out pages from a book, but….well, book-lovers just don’t do that!  So, I went online and found images of old pages from dictionaries, school primers, maps, etc., and printed them out.  Then I used a flag bunting template (that I also snagged on Google images) to pencil in the cutting lines on the printed pages.  A quick hole punch through each top corner and they were ready for stringing onto the jute!



I was unsure if mantelscapes would be something I could get on board with.  But y’all, I am loving this idea and can’t wait for October, November, and December!!!

Happy ‘Scaping, Y’all!