Fall Mantel Decorating Inspiration

Well, it’s been a long time comin’, but we’re FINALLY done with our Fall-themed fireplace!

And, boy, did we have fun with this one!

Up on top, we used a 16×20 print of a church that Kevin recently snapped, framed in a great, old, $7.00 flea market frame.

We also made a “Gather” sign from letters we’ve collected here and there.

Here’s how…

(If you’d prefer to watch it on YouTube, click HERE!)

Finishing touches include:

- a bag of raffia

- four, flea market-found candleholders & books (dark wood candleholders= $5/each, light wood candleholders= $9/each, books= $2/each)

- two votive candles

and a little bit o’ rope from the home improvement store

The candles are just for looks, not for lighting, ’cause they don’t play well with raffia and rope!
The recessed light above the fireplace does a nice job of adding ambience at night though…

Down below, in the firebox, we used a small bail of hay from Hobby Lobby ($4.50), a big ol’ pot of mums from Home Depot ($9.27), a little pot o’ ornamental kale/cabbage ($? Hmmm…I can’t remember, but it seems like it was only a few bucks, and the pot was something I already owned.)

Other items include:

- A red-n-white striped piece of ribbon I got from a friend

- two small, real, pumpkins ($2.50/each at Home Depot)

- one teeny-tiny, white, faux pumpkin (I got it last year at Michaels)

- one small, grapevine pumpkin (also from last year, and also from Michaels)

- one large, white, faux pumpkin ($8 at Michaels- ’cause they’re 60% off right now!)

…and a rope-handled, wooden bucket I found at a flea market (the same day I found the candleholders in the photos above) for $14.

Our goal was to create something a little bit farmhouse…a little bit rustic.
Something festive, and fun, and something that would fill us up with the warm fuzzies every time we saw it!

Not only does the word “Gather” conjure up memories of spending time with the people we love most, but the letters themselves bring us back to the day we actually collected them.

The “G”, the “A”, the “T”, and the “E” came from a shop called Paris Market, located in Savannah, Georgia.
We had our dog, Max, with us the day we were there, and it was like 100 degrees outside.
Obviously, we couldn’t leave him in the car while we went in and looked for letters, so I jumped out at the corner of Broughton and Whitaker- and Kevin & Max proceeded to repeatedly circle around the block while I ran inside and scoured the store as fast as I could.

Welllll, turns out Paris Market was having some sort of big event that day, so the place was totally
Everyone had a “Hello. My name is” name tag stuck to themselves, and there was lots of sipping and munching on fabulous looking food & drinks going on as folks strolled leisurely around the store.
I felt incredibly underdressed (as usual), and I remember really wishing I had washed my hair that morning. (Or at least the morning before that one.)
To make matters even more challenging, the store looked a
lot different than it did the last time we visited.
Before, all the letters and numbers were on display right at the bottom of the stairs. Like this…

This time, however, all the displays were different, and there was TONS of new merchandise everywhere.
(It was
veeeery hard for me not to stop and look at it all!)

Anywho, I ran/walked up and down the stairs two times, before I thought to ask a sales person where the letters had been moved to.
Unfortunately, she didn’t know- but after a bit more rootin’ around, I managed to find the “G”, the “A”, the “T”, and the “E” hidden in various places throughout the store.

Sure, I bumped into folks at almost every turn.

Sure, my brain was filled with images of a stressed-out Kevin, and an on-edge Max, circling the traffic-filled block, over and over again.

But I got the letters I went in for, and my anxiety immediately subsided once I jumped back into our little car and was greeted with a friendly, “Did you get some good ones?“.
I smiled and told him I thought I got the best one.

As for the photo of the church, well, that’s another one of those memories I’ll cherish forever.

It’s a small, Carpenter Gothic style church, located here in Alabama- about 2 hours from our house.

(St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church- Prairieville, Alabama)

It was built in 1853.

I found it online, while searching for “beautiful, old churches in Alabama”.

We knew we wanted to use a photograph of a church on the mantel, but when we saw the gorgeous rustic red color of this one, we knew it was the perfect one to include in our Fall display.

Kev and I arrived at the church around 5:00pm one afternoon last week. And as you can see from the photos above, the sun was just beginning to set, so the building was covered in shadows.
We sort of figured they would go away within an hour or so, so we just walked around and talked until the time (and lighting) was right.

I’ll never forget that day we jumped in the car and drove off into the unknown (a.k.a west Alabama) to visit a pretty little church, all dressed in red.

And there ya have it!
melodramatic (ahem) meaningful story behind our Fall-themed fireplace!

If by chance you’d like to print a copy of Kevin’s church photo, “Gathering Place”- feel free to head on over to
this link.
You’ll find a high-res copy of it waiting for you there!

And for a look back at our Summer mantel, click HERE, and our Spring mantel- click HERE.

I’m linkin’ this one up to Beth’s Halloween Mantel Linky Party. If you haven’t seen all the amazing Fall-themed mantels she’s featured over there yet- you MUST click on the button below!

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  1. says

    Your mantel displays are the best Layla…love the touches of red!

    PS I just painted my bathroom in your fav…sea salt…and I love it! Thanks for all your inspiration! Deb

  2. says

    I could sit in front of your mantel and just fill my eyes with beauty!
    Love the photograph and the story behind it! And it was worth the 2-hour drive!

  3. Bernadette says

    Layla, your stuff just gets better and better! WOW! Thank you SO much for all that you do – your blog is a gem. And what a fantastic photo – Kevin is incredibly talented. Thank you for sharing that as well – what a treat!

  4. Rachel Beal says

    What a GREAT looking mantel. That church photo is beautiful, thanks for sharing! Happy fall!

  5. says

    Love Kevin’s photograph of that amazing old church. I’ve never seen a red church before. The firebox reminds me of my decorated hearth. Beautifully done.

    Your Friend,

  6. says

    I am obsessed with Paris Market! I live in the Savannah area and every time I go in there I have the hardest time leaving! They have such creative displays. Thanks for sharing your mantle and the gorgeous red church picture.
    – Sherie

  7. kelly says

    It IS playfully rustic and does give me the warm fuzzies! Thank you for sharing your creativity. The comment about the candles “not playing nicely with the rope and raffia” made me laugh out loud! And that church is soooo beautiful in its humble simplicity. What a perfect photograph for the season. There is a small yellow church like that not far from here….hmmm…might have to take some photos this weekend (since I can’t seem to talk my husband into going to Stone Mtn.) There is also a little white church for sale a few miles away…I keep telling folks they need to buy it, move it, and use it for a wedding chapel to rent out. Perhaps you two should look into that for your next fixer-upper project!

  8. Angela says

    You must have read my mind! As soon as I saw that photo Kevin took, I was immediately gonna post asking you to make it available! Low and behold…you already did! Another reason why you guys ROCK! Love that photo, your mantle and your website!

  9. says

    I’m just alllll smitten over how you googled pretty churches in Alabama and the two of you drove 2 hours to take a picture, blow it up and do the mantle!!!!! That’s so sweet …so sweet.
    And that letter “A” is so amazing!

  10. Jacquelyn says

    What a beautiful mantel! Thank you so much for the download! I first opened this and thought I have to go to Alabama and find this church so I can get my own photograph ( a little difficult since I live in Canada!)

  11. Sarah says

    Oh Layla, my heart beats for you! Thank you so much for including a file of the beautiful church! I’m from Alabama but currently live in Iowa because my husband is in the military, so having this photo to hang in my home will help me feel a little closer to home.

  12. Dondra says

    So glad to see your fall mantle! I’ve always loved that church! It is on the way to my sweet husband’s hometown (Livingston) where I attended college (UWA) and met my love. It has been one of my favorite pieces of scenery for years. By the way, there is an AWESOME covered bridge on campus if you ever happen to be there. It makes for a fantastic photo op. Once you spend time in West Alabama you just can’t get it outta your blood….kind of like TLC!!!!! :D

  13. says

    I love the fall mantel Layla! I downloaded Kevin’s picture… : ) It is just awesome. I love how the red really “pops”! You guys are great and I always look forward to your posts!
    Have a great weekend!
    Health and happiness,

  14. says

    Love the Mantle! Your stories behind your finds is what makes it so authentic and fun.
    I thought the church was a painting at first, what a generous gift you are offering with the download.
    Thank you both!


  15. says

    The mantel looks great! I love the letters and the picture of the little church is so perfect! (there is always more meaning behind something when there is a story attached to it! :) Great memories! )

  16. says

    I squealed when I saw the church picture, because I pulled over and took a picture of the EXACT SAME CHURCH in March! I was going to Demopolis for a funeral and drove past this little church on the way there from Birmingham. I pulled over and got a shot because it just captured my heart immediately. I love that you went and found it, too!

  17. Jane in St. Louis says

    I really love this look. I have some of the elements to make our Fall mantle (spraypainted some ceramic quail chocolately brown). Just wish our cat would leave plants, raffia or hay bales alone. It’s not pretty when Henry gets a hankering for some roughage.

  18. says

    Layla I LOVE it. I tried to download the print, but the site said it had exceeded its daily download limit…Yikes, looks like everyone else beat me to that gorgeous photo. I’m just dippin my photography toe in the water and one of my favorite things to take pix of are gorgeous old structures, churches, barns and old brick buildings. So much character and SOOOO gorgeous. Thanks for the inspiration!

  19. says


    I am in love with he church and your house! Wow… fantastic pictures!

    Please, visit my new blog. I am new to this “world” and I would love to hear your opinion about my blog.

    Thank you!

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  20. says

    Layla & Kevin…The mantel is so pretty…love those great big wooden candlesticks and all the letters! I collect letters too..love that red “A”…and Kevin’s pic of the red church is amazing! I tried to download it but your link is on overload! LOL! I’ll try again later and hopefully will be able to get it! Thanks so much for sharing it!
    Hope you both have a great weekend! Max is so cute!!
    Tammy :-)

  21. April in CT says

    When I first saw the picture of the Church I thought it was a painting, then realized it was a picture and all I could think was “I have to somehow get a copy of this, it’s gorgeous!!.”, then was amazed you’d made it available to DL!! I’m also getting the message saying it has exceeded its daily DL limit, but I’ll keep trying because I adore that photo.

    I’ve been looking for old letters for various projects and have yet to come across any! You have me wishing I still lived in GA so I could take a trip to Savannah and explore that store. I love the mantel, bit puffy heart love.

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Thanks so much for all the sweet comments and for the heads up on the download issue. We didn’t realize that we had a daily limit. YIKES! We should have it fixed by tomorrow, so please feel free to check back then. Thanks guys!!


  22. says

    I love it! And you are such a sweetheart to share a photo of that church! I will love you forever for that girl!
    I love the rustic feel of the mantel, the rope, and how you filled the firebox – I especially love the letters – um.. cause it is the lettered cottage right?

  23. says

    Your mantle is gorgeous! I LOVE the idea of turning a treasured picture into a poster, framing it and hanging it over the mantle (or anywhere for that matter). Now why didn’t I think of that? But oh the problem in trying to decide which picture from the thousands I’ve taken!

  24. says


    What a fun and beautiful mantle for fall. I believe your seasonal mantle dressings are one of my favorite things on your blog. Amazing photo.

  25. says

    Love your mantel, and the church is just fabulous. Your picture in front of it is wonderful too. What a great church. It looks wonderful above the fireplace. Love that wooden bucket with the rope handle too. Beautiful display. Hugs, Marty

  26. says

    Your mantel is gorgeous! That photograph is stunning! What a talented hubby! Thanks for the inspiration! I have four fireplaces in my home and this is perfect for the one in the foyer!

    (huge Halloween giveaway on my blog! Come on over for a spell!)

  27. Tracey says

    I tried to download the pic and it said you had reached the daily limit. Will you have it tomorrow too? I love it!

  28. says

    Layla, I love the letters you used to spell “Gather”! I especially love the red A with holes in it. How cool. Now I’m not sure how often you travel the country looking for great stores, like the Paris Market, but how can I find great stores like that in my town?! :) We live in Denver… and I’d love to figure out how you discover such great stores. Thanks! Love your mantel.

  29. Debbie says

    I really adore the mantle! We passed the church many, many times going back and forth to Texas. That was our first rest (walk) stop for the very long trip. It is also quite stunning in winter with icicles hanging from the roof. Thanks for your inspiration!

  30. Dorothy says

    Your fall mantle is great. I really like the touch of red in the mums and ribbon too. You do such beautiful projects. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a red church before, but my parents were married loooong ago at the famous “little brown church in the vale,” and Kevin’s photo seemed to strike the same feeling. A very cozy and welcoming composition!

  31. says

    Hi Layla!

    I agree with everyone else, your mantel is absolutely lovely. I don’t have a mantel so I am living vicariously through everyone else’s. And that red church is adorable!


  32. says

    The GATHER sign is perfect…the way it looks and the words for this season. BUT my FAVORITE part was the cozy cluster of fall pumpkins, flowers, etc inside the fireplace. I’ve never seen something like that before and it was beautiful.

  33. Barbara says

    The mantel is charming and the picture of the church is a show stopper! Thanks so much for offering a free download. Please, please keep the offer going tomorrow, I was not able to download it today.

    Great job Layla and Kevin!

  34. says

    Very pretty! I love how you decorated inside the mantel. The church picture is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

  35. says

    A-MA-ZING…as always! I would have sworn that was a painting of a barn…especially in the photo where GATHER is up close. How cool is that??

    Can’t wait to see the Christmas one…oooh…and the bedroom, too!

    Happy Weekend, friends!


  36. says

    Oh Layla, you always make me smile, from your sweet southern style to your unwashed hair…I just love ya! Your mantle is so sweet and I LOVE the letters, but love the story behind them even more. :) Kevin is one talented little cookie isn’t he?! Mr rocker, photographer handy man! :) Hey, I have an idea for you and your candles. I did this post a long time ago, but it’s how to make your own flameless candles (for cheap of course). :) They won’t burn your rafia and they look just like the real deal!
    Have a great day my friend
    Missy :)

  37. carols says

    BEAU-TI-FUL. Love it all. I’m not a download a picture from a blog kinda gal, but this one speaks to me. The message at the top was the YIKES message, but the picture was there with a download button, so I just downloaded it. Thing about that picture….combines faith, nature, decor (pop of red, wrought iron) and is just beautiful photography. Bravo and thanks for sharing!

  38. Rae says

    Love the matel, especially the print of the church. I tried printing the church in both letter size and 8 x 10 and the top of the roofline and the cross on top of the church is cut off. Any idea what I am doing wrong? Or can I order the print from somewhere? thank you!!!!

    • Layla & Kevin says

      Hey Rae!

      Try cropping from the bottom, instead of the top. We printed ours as a 16×20, and since the photo is based on sizes- 4×6, 8×12, 16×24, we had to crop off some of the bottom for ours too.
      Hope that helps, and thanks for the comment! :-)


  39. says

    Hi Layla!
    Beautiful Fall mantel! Gorgeous picture!

    We are just past “peak” here in Minnesota – October has been gorgeous and with all our leaves in our yard we have been raking and raking to beat the snow!

    Hope this finds you well.

  40. says

    that little chapel reminds me of the one up at Yosemite park…love it. and you mantle is “fall”-lishous!
    Thanks for sharing your talents.
    Happy Day

  41. says

    Your mantels are always my favorite. I love the word “Gather”. It’s different than the cliche words and still super cute and festive! The picture of the barn is stunning. At first I thought it was a painting, but wow! Kevin took a wonderful picture. Barns are my fav (:

  42. Tammy Hall says

    Thank you so much for providing the high-res photo for us. I want to print and use it myself. Thanks for sharing.

  43. says

    Love your fall mantel. That red church sure is pretty. Kev has a great photographic eye. I love everything you pulled together. It really does make you feel comfy and cozy.

    P.S. thanks for sharing the high res photo. Love it!

  44. Viola says

    Layla I love everything you do! I have a question, my fireplace is brick and I can’t bring myself to paint over it. How can I decorate my mantle (that is dark) without making it look so drab???

    ~Viola :o)

  45. says

    I love your mantels. This one, I think is my favorite. The letters are so fun and inviting. A fireplace is on my must-haves for our new house so I can do fun mantels like this.

  46. Shannon says

    Once again I am blown away by how you take things that are so ordinary (i.e., candles, raffia, Goodwill finds) and turn them into extraordinary…Thank you so, so much for the inspiration and also the photo…There’s a small white church I pass on my way home from work each day and I am always tempted to pull over and snap a photo but I kept tellling myself it was a silly idea….Thanks to you and your sweet Kevin I will definitely be doing just that! :)


  47. says

    Hi Layla! Love the mantle! The letters are perfect! I love how just one is red! It all looks wonderful how you have pulled it together! AMAZING photo!! I wish I had a mantle to decorate!!

    Also, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for swinging by my blog and leaving a comment this weekend! What a day brightener to hear from you! You are very sweet!

    Hope you are both having a great weekend!

    ~ Polly

  48. Terry D says

    Hi Layla & Kevin!
    Love your mantle it is so pretty!! The gather letters are great!
    The church photo is Awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing it! =)
    What a beautiful church! The color and style is so unique. I love the gate and how it is slightly open just welcoming you in!! (Can you tell…I love photography!)

    Terry D

  49. says

    I love your fall mantle. Everything about it is awesome. I love the letters – and the word “gather”, I love the natural rustic look and I love your idea of filling the fire box as well. The centerpiece of it all — the photo– is wonderful!!!

  50. says

    I have become a bit weary of all the Halloween decor on blogs and in my neighborhood. Your mantle is refreshing! Fall is by far my favorite season and I can’t imagine decorating for one day when you can for an entire season. Oh, your mantle is just perfect Layla. My measley pumpkin and candle in a hurricane need some love. Thanks for the inspiration.

  51. says

    Ok you already know this knowing me, but I am in love with that red church- it is spectular. it has a red barn look to it ;) episcopal churches are so beautiful. the inside of each episcopal church is meant to look like noah’s ark turned upside down-usually the ceiling is curved, painted white, with large dark wooden beams. It is such a cool feature common to all of the episcopal churches I have been in. The mantel is lovely, the red letter is my favorite. amazing frame too! love you! miss you! e

  52. Michiganhome says

    Wow, Layla and Kevin, you both did an awesome job once again! And I love your story about how you got the best one! You two are sooo cute!

  53. Gina says

    Thank you so much for that picture. I love old country churches too, but I’ve never seen one painted red. I can’t wait to get this printed. Thanks.

  54. Cass says

    I swooned the minute I saw the word “Gather” on your mantle. How perfect is that word/statement and especially this time of year when the holidays brings family and friends closer. Your mantle is gorgeous and the two of you have such a knack for making everything perfectly balanced no matter the items origins. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!

  55. Roxanne says

    I have been a fan (ok, obsessed with) your blog for about a year and a half. I have never commented before, but today I have to say thank you for sharing that beautiful picture of the church. I LOVE it. I share your obsession with everything interior design, and you have inspired me to sign up for the Sheffield course..thanks so much! I also have a love of the south (I am in NJ, I have family in AL) so I’d love to see more photos from you guys like this church one.

  56. Margaret says

    I downloaded the church photo on Friday morning and believe it or not, it was delivered to my door on Monday via Kodak Gallery. Just beautiful. Thank you so much. Now I have to find the perfect frame, but till then, the photo is just perfect, propped on my mantel.

    Love your Savannah/Tybee stories. I grew up around there and miss the area so much.

  57. says

    Love it! I am going to be on the hunt for letters. Those will be good to have on had for all seasons! Love the straw too. I would have never thought of that! Great job.

    My reclaimed wood and starfish flag is still on my mantel. It is a Layla inspired piece! :)

  58. says

    I hyperventilated looking at that gorgeous picture. I seriously was going to ask you how I could buy a copy when you offered it for FREE. My heart is thumping in my chest out of giddiness! Thank you so much for sharing! Gorgeous!

  59. says

    Good Morning Layla.
    Your mantel is just gorgeous. I love how warm it feels. :o)
    And I absolutely LOVE the photograph of the church.
    I scrolled down to find if it was something you would like to sell, and can you imagine the leap in my heart to see that you so sweetly shared it with us for free. Gosh, what a wonderful way to start the day!! I downloaded the image and will decide what size to have it printed. When I do, I will post and point directly to you!!! :o)
    Thank you so much for your generousity. :o)
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Sincerely – Trish

  60. kimberly says

    LOVE this mantle!! The letters, the candle holders and the picture! Thanks so much for sharing the picture! The fireplace below is adorable too! This is my favorite so far.

  61. says

    As always, great inspirations abound on your blog. At first, I thought the photo was a painting. I can’t believe you shared that gorgeous photo with us for free!

  62. says

    I love your fall mantel and the story behind it. That church is amazing – thanks for sharing! I also like the vignette inside the fireplace. Everything is just lovely! Have a blessed weekend!

  63. Jolene Nofzinger says

    LOVE the barn print and cannot find where to order it. The link is broken. Any updated purchase info would be appreciated. Thanks for sharing your beautiful ideas!

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Jolene! We lost the high res image when our (previous) hard drive crashed, but one of these days we’ll go back over there and snap another one. I’ll keep you posted! Thank you for your kind comment about it! :-D XO

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