New Years Eve Ideas

New Year's Eve is a time to celebrate new beginnings. We've got plenty of New Year's Eve ideas to help you plan the perfect New Year's Eve party and ring in the New Year in style. Be sure to also check out our budget New Year's Eve party ideas to ensure that your celebration will be friendly on your wallet yet fun for all of your guests.

What really makes a party? The guests! Plan activities leading up to the New Years Eve countdown where guests can interact with each other by playing fun games.
"On Time" Charades
Play charades with titles, songs, and books that feature the word "time" in honor of the New Year's Eve countdown. Search the word "time" at online book and movie retailers to get some ideas or try these suggestions:
"Time" Title Ideas for Charades
  • Lost in Time (movie)
  • Time in a Bottle (song)
  • A Stitch in Time Saves Nine (rhyme)
  • Time is On My Side (song)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (book)
Guess My Resolution
When guests enter the party, ask them to write their resolution on a slip on paper.
  • Fold up the slips of paper and place all resolutions in a bowl.
  • The party host reads the resolutions aloud and the guests guess who wrote each resolution.
New Year's revelers will inevitably end up singing this classic song after the ball drops. But who really knows the lyrics, and who is mumbling along to the song?
1. Print out the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne on a full sheet of paper.
2. Use whiteout to strategically blank out one word on every second or third line of the printed out song.
3. Photocopy as many copies as you will have guests at your party. Hand out the copies and plenty of pens, and ask guests to fill in the lyrics for the song.
4. At the end of the night, award guests with a small trinket for the Most Creative Lyrics, the Most Incorrect Lyrics, and the Most Correct lyrics.

Auld Lang Syne Lyrics:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old times since ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup !
And surely I'll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there's a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o' thine !
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Budget Christmas Wrapping

newspaper and string simple options for wrapping

Newspaper and Garden String

Turn yesterday's news into graphic wrapping paper. Pair it with green garden string for an eye-catching combo. I aslo use grocery paper bags and raffia for bows for a natual look, raffia can be purchased in many colors.

dish towel wrapped package is two gifts in one

Make the Wrap Part of the Gift

Wrap a kitchen gift or present for the foodie on your list in a colorful dish towel.

maps and magazines make unique wrapping paper

Map It

For larger gifts, use a map of your hometown, favorite vacation destination or dream getaway — it's the perfect wrap for jet-setters or adventurers on your list.

use paper and corrugated cardboard for wrapping

Mix Textures

Put small pieces of interesting paper to work. Ridged cardboard adds textural interest when paired with brown Kraft paper. Pretty gingham ribbon adds color.

recycle an old shirt for wrapping gift

Recycle a Past-Its-Prime Shirt

Cut the back off an old shirt and wrap the shirt front around the gift. Simply secure the sleeves on top with string.

plain brown paper and ribbon used to wrap gift

Brown Paper and Woven String

Brown Kraft paper is a great anytime gift-wrap. Keep some on hand for wrapping gifts throughout the year. Give it holiday appeal with red twine or ribbon and fragrant cinnamon sticks.

leaves slipped between tissue paper for wrapping

Tissue Paper and Leaves

Arrange leaves between sheets of recycled tissue paper and secure the wrapping with glue and twine.

Christmas Cheer

White Cranberry Spritzer

White cranberry juice is made with young cranberries before they develop their tart flavor and red color—it's milder and sweeter than regular cranberry juice. Garnish with mint sprigs and whole fresh cranberries, if you like. Prepare the rosemary-infused juice mixture up to one day ahead, and chill.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)


  • 2 3/4  cups  white cranberry juice drink (such as Ocean Spray)
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 12  mint leaves
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 3  cups  club soda, chilled
  • 1 1/2  cups  white rum
  • Crushed ice


1. Combine cranberry juice, sugar, rosemary, and 12 mint leaves in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Strain juice mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir in lime juice; cover and refrigerate.
2. Combine juice mixture, club soda, and rum in a large pitcher; stir well to combine. Serve mixture over crushed ice. Serve immediately.
Grown-up Frappés


  • 2  cups  vanilla ice cream
  • 2/3  cup  milk
  • 1/3  cup  crème de cacao
  • 9  miniature or 3 (1.4-oz.) chocolate-covered peppermint patties, chopped


Process ice cream, milk, crème de cacao, and chopped peppermint patties, in a blender until smooth.
Note: We tested with York Peppermint Patties.

Blackberry Mojito Punch


  • 3  cups  blueberry-blackberry juice blend
  • 2  (12-oz.) cans frozen mojito mix
  • 2  (1-liter) bottles club soda, chilled
  • 1 1/2  cups  white rum
  • 3  limes, sliced
  • 1  (12-oz.) package frozen blackberries
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprigs


Stir together blueberry-blackberry juice blend, mojito mix, chilled club soda, white rum, sliced limes, and frozen blackberries. Serve over ice. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Creamy Sorghum Eggnog


  • 1  cup  bourbon
  • 1/2  cup  sorghum
  • 2  qt. refrigerated eggnog
  • 3  cups  milk
  • Crushed gingersnaps


Whisk together bourbon and sorghum. Stir in eggnog and milk. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle individual servings with crushed gingersnaps.

Happy Holiday's

Bavarian-style buildings decorated with lights & dusted with snow, Leavenworth, Wash. (© Leavenworth Area Promotions)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Leavenworth, Wash.

Spectacular light displays are a hallmark of the holiday season in many locations around the globe.

Millions of lights, St. Nicholas, roasting chestnuts, and nonstop caroling — what’s not to love about Christmas in this Bavarian-themed village in the North Cascades? The buildings and trees in the village are lit each Saturday and Sunday afternoon throughout December in a special lighting ceremony that draws oohs and aahs every time. Skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, Nordic skiing and sledding on the hill downtown are fun ways to kill time until the sun goes down.

Oil derricks lighted up for the holidays, Kilgore, Texas (© Kilgore Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Texas & Louisiana

Nothing says “happy holidays” like an illuminated oil derrick — and in Texas, it’s a sure sign that you’re on the Trail of Lights. In an hourlong drive along interstates 20 and 49, you can visit six cities decked out in their holiday finest: Natchitoches and Shreveport-Bossier City, La.; and Marshall, Jefferson and Kilgore, Texas. Revelers will find fireworks displays, candlelight tours of antebellum homes, skating rinks, steam-train rides and Christmas in the Oil Patch — 75 derricks lit with sparkling stars.
Niagara Falls with winter holiday lights, Ontario Canada  (© Roland Tobiasz/Via

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

The Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls illuminates the powerful falls in a rainbow of colors in a ceremony that begins every evening at dusk, from early November through the end of February. The tradition dates back to 1860, when the falls were first lit to celebrate a visit by the Prince of Wales. The skies above the falls also light up with a weekly fireworks show in December.

Flaming menorah at Western Wall, Old City, Jerusalem, Israel (© Gideon Mendel/Corbis)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Jerusalem

This nine-candle Hanukkah menorah (also called a hanukkiyah) stands high over the plaza at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Jewish festival of lights, held for eight days in late November or December depending on the Jewish calendar, commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Temple after it was recaptured from the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. A new candle is lit each night during the holidays.

Holiday tree constructed of LEGOs, LEGOLAND California, San Diego (© 2010 The LEGO Group)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Lego Tree, San Diego

What can you build with 245,000 green Lego Duplo bricks? A 30-foot Christmas tree, as it turns out. Decorated with 400 ornaments — also made of Legos, natch — and lots of lights, this Legoland California tree from a distance looks almost real. If only Lego would make pine-scented bricks, it’d smell like a real tree, too.

Shoppers gather to view holiday light displays in the Shiodome area of central Tokyo (© David Guttenfelder/AP)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Tokyo

Pictured above, the Blue Ocean holiday display ripples across the Shiodome area of Tokyo, near Tokyo Bay and the famed Ginza shopping district. Occupying what was once marshy tideland, Shiodome is a modern section of Tokyo that’s home to high-power office complexes (including the headquarters of behemoth Nippon Television) that showcase the city’s stunning architecture.

Christmas tree made recycled bicycles, Sydney, Australia (© Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Tree-Cycle, Sydney, Australia

Look closely and you can see this is no ordinary tree; it’s made of 100 old bicycles that were bound for the garbage heap. A little creativity, a lot of colored paint, and voilà! A festive tree standing 23 feet tall. You can see it on display this season at The Rocks shopping district in Sydney, which is famous for featuring a tree made of recycled items each year. 
Lake Taneycomo Bridge with holiday decorations, Branson, Mo. (©  2009 Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. All rights reserved.)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Branson, Mo.

The Branson Area Festival of Lights is a mile-long celebration of holiday illumination that can be viewed by visitors to Branson, Missouri. This drive-through exhibit features more than 175 lighted displays, representing well-known Christmas traditions as well as holiday celebrations of many cultures.
Holiday lights at Rockefeller Center, New York City (©

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Rockefeller Center, New York City

There may be no more iconic Christmas tree in the world than the one that graces New York City's Rockefeller Center. This year, a reported 100,000 people witnessed the lighting of a 74-foot Norway spruce in late November. The first holiday tree lighting took place here in 1933, no doubt offering Depression-era shoppers some much-needed cheer.  Now, the annual star-studded televised event kicks off the crazy holiday shopping season in New York.

Las Noches de las Luminarias, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Ariz. (© Desert Botanical Garden)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Las Noches de las Luminarias, Phoenix

During the festival Las Noches de las Luminarias, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix sparkles with the lights of thousands of luminarias, votive candles nestled in sand-filled paper bags. The meaning behind the tradition is disputed, but some say the festive lanterns light the way for the Christ child or the Three Wise Men. Others say they mimic early bonfires that led congregants to church on Christmas Eve. You can see luminarias in many Southwest towns, including Old Town Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.

'Magic of Christmas' holiday garden light display at night, The Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (© The Butchart Gardens Ltd.)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia

The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, are illuminated each year during the gardens' Magic of Christmas event. Especially popular are the Twelve Days of Christmas light displays that are scattered about the 55-acre facility, which is in a former quarry and has been open to the public for more than 100 years.

Fireworks explode over floating Christmas tree, Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (© Ricardo Morales/Reuters/Corbis)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Floating Christmas Tree, Rio de Janeiro

It takes 11 pontoons and seven biodiesel generators to keep the lights aglow on the floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro. The 28-story-tall tree (made of 500-plus tons of steel) is adorned with nearly 3 million miniature light bulbs, 82 miles of regular lights and 1,600 ornaments. Fireworks and parties on the beach round out the holiday festivities.

Holiday lights along the Champs-Élysées leading to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris (© HP Huber/SIME/4Corners Images)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Paris

The City of Light lives up to its name more than ever this month, when 400 trees illuminated with 1 million energy-saving lights add unparalleled sparkle to the Champs-Élysées. Paris during the holidays is especially wonderful for window shopping: spectacular designer-created displays at Printemps department store are an annual must-see for locals and visitors.
Boat decorated with holiday lights, Christmas Ship Parade, Portland, Ore. (© Maria Swearingen)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Christmas Ship Parade, Portland, Ore.

Every December for more than 50 years, boaters in Seattle and Portland have strung lights on their masts, decorated their yachts and paraded en masse around Northwest waters. In Seattle, the flotilla visits 45 waterfront communities, and onboard carolers sing to people huddled around bonfires on shore. In Portland, there are two fleets, one on the Columbia River and one on the Willamette.

Town Hall with holiday decorations, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium (© Magic Monkey/Courtesy of

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Brussels

The magnificent Gothic Brussels Town Hall, built in the early 1400s, is aglow with lights each holiday season. The Grand Place — or town square — in front of the town hall fills with onlookers each evening for the sound-and-light show that illuminates the building.

National Christmas Tree in front of the White House, Washington, D.C. (© Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: National Tree, Washington D.C.

President Calvin Coolidge presided over the first ever Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House in 1923, and today the President and First Family continue the honors. The Colorado blue spruce has been growing at the White House for 46 years, a donation from a family in York, Pa. It stands 42 feet tall and has become a treasured part of the nation's holiday celebration.

Christmas Gift Toppers

use evergreen foliage and twine to decorate gift

Evergreen Foliage and String

Gather a few lengths of string, tie up the gift and tuck a couple of sprigs of foliage under the bow.

cinnamon sticks and gingham ribbon decorate gift

Cinnamon Sticks and Braided Raffia

Tie the gift with braided raffia, thread ribbon under it and add a bundle of cinnamon sticks.

use dried fruit slices and raffia to decorate gift

Dried Fruits and Raffia

Glue three dried orange slices together in an overlapped row, tie the gift with raffia and glue on the orange slices.

use holly berries and vintage ribbon on gifts

Holly Sprig and Vintage Ribbon

Tie the gift with bright vintage ribbon and tuck a holly sprig with a few berries under the bow.

use pine cones and raffia to decorate a gift

Pinecones and Raffia

Tie the gift with raffia, wrap a little thin wire around the base of each cone and tie them to the bow.

use ribbon and buttons to decorate gift

Ribbon and Buttons

Wrap recycled ribbon around the gift and glue different-sized buttons onto the ribbon.

use dried leaves and raffia to decorate gift

Raffia and Dried Leaves

Gather a few lengths of raffia, tie the gift and glue a few dried, flattened leaves just under the bow.
This is one of my favorite, the leaves look like a flower!

thread buttons on very thin ribbon to use on gift

Threaded Buttons

Thread odd buttons onto a very thin length of ribbon and tie the ribbon around the gift.

Stress Free Party

Make a List

Perhaps the ultimate way to create a stress-free holiday is to live by a list. Plan ahead, and don't be afraid to delegate. "Know what you're capable and comfortable doing and give other people things to do," says Kathy Gunst, culinary expert and author of Relax, Company's Coming! and co-author of Stonewall Kitchen Harvest. Asking guests to help with a party-related task makes them feel more involved, so never be afraid to ask.

Cook Ahead

Do as much ahead of time as possible. "Soups and stews are the ultimate winter and holiday food — they'll feed a crowd. Quiches and tarts also freeze well," and you don't have to make them from scratch.

Stock Up

You'll never run out of nibbles if you shop with an aim to entertain. Stock your pantry with a selection of cookies and crackers. Consider purchasing nuts in bulk — which can be mixed together, tossed with maple syrup and cooked in a pan until they caramelize. Serve them with drinks or chop and scatter around a cheese platter. Long-lasting jarred tapanades and pestos make an impressive dip when mixed with fresh sour cream.

Deck the Halls

Monica Gullon, former caterer, food editor and frequent entertainer, suggests going with the unexpected. "Bowls of vintage ornaments (from your family's collection or a flea market) grouped by color or glass bowls filled with white twinkle lights can both look striking. Or place a bare branch in a vase and hang small ornaments from it."

As for your exterior, you don't need a house encrusted in twinkle lights to make an impact. Try a single stand-out wreath, potted evergreens, or a big bow on the front door.

Create Comfort

For a casual holiday party, don't feel compelled to seat guests around a dinner table. If you've got a lot of company, a buffet may be a better way. "Buffets are the most efficient way to serve a lot of people, but be sure to pull the table away from the wall so that there are four sides available to people, otherwise lines form and people can't get to the food easily.

Add Joyful Sounds

Set the mood with a homemade CD or computer playlist of holiday songs. It's easy to make and you'll get to hear your favorite mix of seasonal tunes. Remember to keep the music low — conversation is what counts at any celebration, writes caterer extraordinaire Sheila Lukins in her party-themed cookbook Celebrate.

Try to avoid musical selections with lyrics during the dinner hour, which causes competition between the lyrics and the scintillating dinner conversation that could go unheard.

Open Your House

Too many friends and family to host at one time? Have an open house and let them know they can drop by any time between certain hours on one special day. Your guests will appreciate the flexibility and you'll gain quality time with the ones you love.

Gunst says the secret is preparing foods that can be done well ahead of time. That way, "When the doorbell rings for the first time, you're ready." Open houses work best when there are lots of smaller dishes to bring out throughout the day or evening as opposed to one huge main course, she adds. That way your buffet is always fresh.

Be a Graceful Giver

Store a few extra gifts in a closet and you'll never be caught off-guard when a friend springs an unexpected gift-exchange; try to collect items for all ages and a few gift bags in holiday colors. If you make a practice of picking up items as you stumble upon them throughout the year, it'll be easier when the season comes around.

Consider buying in bulk — divide one case of good red wine or champagne or prettily wrapped portions of quality tea or coffee. Or do some extra baking. Double that cake recipe or cookie confection and you'll have freshly baked gifts ready to go. While a fruit cake may not be everyone's favorite, no one will turn up their nose at a sweet tin of homemade cookies — an inexpensive gift that never fails to impress.

Wrap It Up

Wrapping all of your gifts in one signature style — saves time and creates a finished appearance. "Any solid wrapping paper will look elegant with fancy satin ribbon or cord." Simple can be chic — and it allows you to add gift tie-ons and tags tailored to the recipient's interest. I save paper grocery bags for wrapping paper, and my bows are made of different colors of raffia.
Inexpensive, and makes a simple statement.

And don't overlook the power of a creative container. Everything from Chinese take-out containers to fabric remnants (illusion, organza) can help wrap gifts that are irregular in size or shape.

Your Holiday, Your Way

We all know the value of family traditions and the sense of comfort they impart. However, sometimes breaking from old traditions can save your sanity; living up to Grandma's years of holiday handiwork is hard work. Keep the best, ditch the rest. Going around the room and sharing favorite holiday memories can be just as meaningful as singing every song in the holiday songbook if piano time has grown tedious over the years. "Every holiday season offers a new chance to start your own traditions, so be creative.

Entertaining/Christmas from the Kitchen

Packaging Food Gifts

Packaging Food Gifts

Make Christmas gift recipes extra-special by presenting them in unique tins, festive bags, pretty baskets, decorative tissue, or to-go cartons. Add your signature touch by adorning with a homemade gift tag, colorful ribbon, or a keepsake like a small kitchen gadget or toy.

Holiday Bread Winners

Holiday Bread Winners

From rum-laced banana bread to mini cranberry panettone, sweet tea and yeast breads make perfect holiday gifts.

Decadent Chocolate Gifts for the Holidays

Decadent Chocolate Gifts for the Holidays

Give the gift of homemade chocolate (and white chocolate) goodies with these favorites from Christmas with Southern Living.

Teacher Treats

Teacher Treats

Show your teachers how much you and your children appreciate them with these easy and affordable gifts.

Gifts from the Oven

Gifts from the Oven

Homemade treats like crisp biscotti, decorated cookies, or moist loaf cake spread holiday cheer among friends and family.

Gift-Worthy Jams, Spreads & Sauces

Gift-Worthy Jams, Spreads & Sauces

Think homemade jelly or preserve recipes  for a big payoff in flavor and presentation.

Give the Gift of Candy

Give the Gift of Candy

Take a little sugar and spice and create candy gifts for a hostess, a neighbor, or that special friend.

Banana Bread Bonanza

Banana Bread Bonanza

A favorite holiday gift, hostess offering, or breakfast treat, banana bread is welcome at the table any time of year.

Real Estate and Design Trends for 2012

Guest Post

The new year is finally upon us. It’s time to make all of those New Year’s resolutions and start fresh. This year, why not renovate your home? Let’s say you’re living on a prime piece of Austin Real Estate. If you’re tired of the same old southwest decor, it could be time to give your interior a facelift. Need some inspiration? Here are our interior design predictions for 2012: 

Modern design
 Enough of the kitschy, eclectic look. It’s time to streamline your house, clear out the clutter, and opt for the clean lines of modern design. The vaulted ceilings and simple color palettes of modern minimalism keep green homes (like the ones discussed above) looking spacious, luxurious, and avant-garde. If you want inspiration, just look toward Mad Men’s mid-century modern interiors or check out the more contemporary-modern approach of Nero 20th century furniture. To add dimension or color to an Italian modern space, try a statement piece, like a Murano glass chandelier, or a piece of art. You can also incorporate a Think Glass Kitchen Countertop, as featured in the previous Serenity in Design blog post.

Indoor to Outdoor

 The eco-friendly movement has also lent itself to an emphasis on nature (logically). But, more than that, we are seeing an intertwining of indoor and outdoor spaces. Roofs and walls are becoming full-fledged gardens, exemplified in Patrick Blanc's living wall on the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. Lautner-esque houses, littered with windows that overlook lush green views, are captivating contemporary architects. This open, nature-inspired architecture both soothes and awakens the senses, making both relaxing and utterly stunning homes.

Going Small

Now more than ever, homebuilders are creating smaller, more eco-friendly homes. These homes will often feature green technology or energy efficient features. Keep the green trend in mind as you flip through architecture and interior decor magazines. Greener, smaller houses are informing almost every aspect of design, at the moment. Maybe less really is more.

Lisa is an Austin-based writer who blogs about design and real estate trends. She has been my guest post blogger today. Thank you Lisa, we look forward to updates in the future.

Simply Glass

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Artistic Creations in Durable Glass

Think Glass Kitchen Countertops begin at 1.5” thick (custom orders for increased thickness available), and single seamless slabs run as large as 7’ x 10’—meaning you’re virtually guaranteed an un-interrupted landscape of crystalline enchantment. Not that “enchantment” is the initial adjective evoked by the prospect of kitchen countertops, but The Think Glass collection is truly that (beyond being comparably durable to any rival countertop product). So wherefore such enchantment? Within the aqueous undulations of “Ocean Inspiration,” for starters.

Ocean Inspiration by Think Glass Kitchen Countertops, Glass

Functional Art Think Glass Countertops

Get Transparent with Think Glass Kitchen Countertops

Magnificent Glass Island Think Glass Countertops

The above is merely one of Think Glass’ innumerable styles of available imbedded textures. That particular choice features a sea-faring theme of swirling blues and oscillating blacks, all imbued with the implied movement of ocean tides. Other choices include “Crystal Granula” (modeled after the blurring effect of water in motion), “Clean and Contemporary” (a richly textured ivory hue evoking a great arctic horizon), and “Southern Belle” (all the imposing beauty of a slab of frozen sea ice).
If none of these stir your pot, Think Glass invites you to mix and match from their store of available thicknesses, textures, colors, and artistic applications—just the stuff to inspire “custom designs of your glass countertops with infused color to create your personalized artistic touch.”

Mantle Makeovers

I do this in my own home. Raji has a good explanation:

Instead of hanging art on the wall, designer Raji Radhakrishnan of Raji RM & Associates in Brambleton, Va., likes to lean pictures of various sizes on the mantel. "Odd numbers of things always look better than even numbers," she says, "So I would recommend three pieces of art — go to four and five only if they are really spectacular." For the best effect, Radhakrishnan likes to place the largest painting or drawing on the mantel first, slightly off-center, with the second and third pieces (approximately half to two-thirds the height of the first) slightly overlapping in front of it. "In addition to giving the impression that the pieces were accumulated over time," she says, "leaning objects allows you to tuck in mementos or seasonal objects very easily." A mirror gives height to a trio of framed art in Radhakrishnan's room. Photo by Raji Radhakrishnan.

If you want to hang art above the fireplace, consider replacing one painting with a series of nearly identical pieces hung in a grid, starting right above the mantel and going up almost to the ceiling, like the art featured in this Kenneth Brown-designed room. "Think about an arrangement of black and white photography, or prints by the same artist," says New York-based interior-design stylist and writer Jorge S. Arango. "If you arrange them purposefully, the frames themselves create a pattern, almost like a very bold — and very original — wallpaper."

stone fireplace is focus of family great room

Whether hung on a wall or propped up, the things above your fireplace don't need to be two-dimensional. In fact, in a contemporary home where there is no shelf at all above the fireplace, says designer Raji, "you absolutely need a three-dimensional sculpture, because a flat thing like a painting will almost disappear." Art galleries and museum shops offer lots of sculptural choices. But don't be afraid to think beyond officially-designated objets d'art. New York-based interior designer Amie Weitzman has mounted antique weathervanes and giant African currency above her own fireplaces; the effect, she says, is offbeat and dramatic. Design by Gina Fitzsimmons.


Floor-to-ceiling glass and marble mosaic tiles in brown, gold, cream and grey tones are a spectacular setting for an elevated gas fireplace. The contemporary focal point adds both visual and physical warmth to the room.

Sophisticated moldings are combined with a marble-tiled surround for a traditional fireplace. To allow the space to be a conversational area as well as a space to watch television, Candice hides a television behind a piece of remote-controlled artwork so it's out of sight when not in use.


A simply elegant fireplace surround is painted cream to offset the dark wallpaper in the dining room. Raised off the floor, the visual warmth of the fireplace can be enjoyed from each seat around the table. The fireplace is also flanked with mirrored panels that add depth and dimension, as well as reflect light into the room.