It’s the perfect time of year to be quirky and have some fun. (Photo: Handout/TNS).

Now that the weather is starting to turn crisp and is soon to be cold in Kansas City, I can begin daydreaming about warming my hands on a cup of tea and my feet by the fireplace. After a busy day of work for my husband and me – and a busy day of preschool for my 3-year-old – it is nice to have a spot to regroup and spend a few moments together. With so much cozy family time spent around the hearth, especially during the colder months, I think it’s lovely to have your mantel be a focal point in the home all season long.

Recently I was at Mary Carol’s guest cottage and her mantel is – unsurprisingly beautifully decorated. She has the gift of simplistic elegance that is truly eye-catching without being overwhelming. Her mantel is a great example of using varying heights and asymmetrical balance to create a captivating design. Not one to repeat an item, she uses different art pieces, plates, lamps, books and jars to create a display full of texture and depth without overdoing it with color. While simplistic at first glance, the more you admire it the more you can see the thought and balance that went into creating the dynamic display.

When it comes to holiday cheer, there are a few ways to approach a mantel display. There is subtle Christmas, and then there is what I can only describe as a “holiday explosion.” Both are looks I enjoy and admire.

For a fuss-free approach, I like the look we created at our designer Anne’s home. We used a healthy amount of greenery with pinecones to provide a natural base for her mantel. She has a lot of wooden accents and natural materials throughout her home, as well as a stunning large-scale piece of art we wanted to include. We introduced boxwood wreaths to help bridge the gap between her tall art and the greenery and brought in a wooden lantern. We added more Christmas cheer by including Santa in the mix as well. The best thing about the display is its versatility. By switching out a few elements (like the Santa) the display could be used for Thanksgiving as well as a generic winter design once Christmas has passed.

Now for our “holiday explosion” decorators. One of our signature over-the-fireplace tricks is layering a mirror with a fun detail like a wreath or bust. This year we are showcasing a deer bust that has hipster flair like none I have ever seen. It is a show-stopping accent that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which we paired with traditional greenery to help soften. Below him you will find a collection of bright and darling ornaments in all shapes, sizes and colors. Lights, ribbons and greenery finish off this “more is more” look.

By Katie Laughridge, Tribune News Service. Adapted from nellhills.com. Katie Laughridge is the owner of Kansas City interior design destination Nell Hill’s. For more information, contact Katie at info@nellhills.com.