Mantels and coffee tables are simultaneously some of the most important and vexing areas to style in a home. You can get everything else in a room just right only to meet your Waterloo in the small space above your mantel and in front of your sofa. To help us address this, we’ve asked designer Zakk Hoyt (aka The Polished Rake) how he tackled these areas in the home that local artist, Clarissa Randolph, shares with her husband, Karsten, and daughter, Mia.
We asked Hoyt to provide three distinct looks to complement the custom Lee Industries upholstery from Nell Hills and a vintage Oushak rug he and Claire selected for the home’s formal living room.
“Start with scale,” Hoyt says. “We wanted this room to be a chameleon so that Claire could swap her gorgeous paintings with other pieces in her collection.”
Each of these paintings are 36 inches tall and fill at least one-half to two-thirds of the vertical space.
For Look #1, we ran with the neutral palette making the painting by Noah Desmond the star. The Blanc de Chine porcelain accessories pair beautifully with classic white orchids. The stunning 18th-century Spanish mirror is a great answer to the gaping black hole of a fireplace when it’s too warm for a fire.
- Bespoke pillows, porcelain accessories: Nell Hills
- Artwork, Noah Desmond: Liquid Garden: Prairiebrooke Gallery
- Spanish mirror: Morning Glory Antiques
Look # 2 features a more saturated palette drawn from Claire’s gorgeous Flint Hills sunset. The books on the coffee table act as stages for a curated collection of vintage accessories and family pieces. The Georgian mahogany curio stairs fill the fire box perfectly, offering another venue for interesting finds. (Notice how Hoyt reused pieces from the first look.) Finally, the mantel plays with symmetry pairing the Victorian tole mantel set with the cheeky wire flamingo and vintage Imari ware.
- Bespoke pillows and accessories, Nell Hills
- Original artwork, Clarissa Randolph: Gladsome Light, Prairiebrooke Gallery
- Georgian stairs, tole pieces and vintage accessories, Morning Glory Antiques
Look # 3, the artwork is the complete star here which is another one of Clarissa’s pieces (do you recognize Brush Creek?) The accessories were chosen as a whimsical nod to water, fish swim on the ginger jars and the little bronze man on the mantel looks as if he is going to dive right into the painting. We carried the blue theme throughout the room (Hoyt says he is a sucker for the pillows on the sofa in the pattern “Raintree” by American manufacturer Thibaut.) A prized Herend rabbit adorns the coffee table on an inexpensive Brutalist olive tray. The blue and white pieces are of a variety of qualities and ages, but they all marry beautifully. Hoyt is particularly drawn to the antique French gilded firedogs that are sitting in the fireplace.
- Bespoke pillows, Brutalist tray, and blue and white porcelain, Nell Hills
- Original artwork, Clarissa Randolph: Brush Creek, Prairiebrooke Gallery
- Gilded firedogs, tray on coffee table, and vintage porcelain, Morning Glory Antiques
You can see that Hoyt carries key items through each look. A collection of good coffee table books is essential. (Stop what you are doing now and buy Kansas City Houses 1885-1938 by Michael Kathrens and Bruce Mathews!)
The florals are all made from bagged bundles Hoyt grabbed from Trader Joe’s, and if you feel daunted by the idea of arranging flowers, look to the produce section. He used fresh figs and apples to add some life to the looks (also, never underestimate the power of a supermarket orchid.)
I love to feature art above a mantel, but many of us have our TVs taking the place of a treasured painting, and that is okay. Just keep in mind scale, consider purchasing a smart television that allows you to project art, or consider framing your television.
Finally, have fun with these spaces. Think of them as silent calling cards telling your guests something about you. What kind of books do you like? What is your favorite thing? It doesn’t have to be permanent and should act as a conversation starter when entertaining.
Zakk Hoyt is a triple-threat Designer, Hallmarker, and sometimes opera singer. When he is not styling homes in the area, he is chasing after his five gorgeous children with his husband Bobby Norris.
4101 N Mulberry Dr., Kansas City, MO 64116
Morning Glory Antiques
313 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO 64111
7900 Santa Fe Dr., Overland Park KS 66204