It's not exactly what I was going for, but seeing as how everything up there was taken from somewhere else in the house, the cost was certainly a winning factor in this combination.
I'm thinking of replacing the dried lavender in the pitcher on the far right with some blooming branches, and getting some greenery to add to the cream pitcher to its left.
Ideally the taller frame would be a white one, but all of my white frames are Ribba (from Ikea) and they have thick bottoms that prevent them from leaning properly. Because the mirror has a lip, all the white frames stood too far out, taking up precious inches on the thin mantle ledge. The picture in that frame is a shot I took of a cafe while we were walking around Florence back in 2006. It previously hung above our TV. The smaller frame holds an old black & white photo of my grandpa when he was a kid. He's got a toboggan and he's ready to go play in the snow. This was novel because he grew up in San Gabriel Valley in Southern California where I'm pretty sure it's never snowed before. The picture used to hang on the gallery wall in our dining room but since taking it down I have a whole slew of pictures that need a new home. I'm not sure this one will stay here but it was the right size in the right frame, so there it is.
The lemons are from Target and they add a nice punch of color. The shells were gathered on our various vacations, with most of them coming from Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound. The wicker baskets are from Ikea and hold random baubles that have no other home.The red vessel is one that Alan brought back from Russia (I think) when he visited in high school. The books - Shakespeare - were a gift from my mother in law when they visited Ashland, Oregon, for a Shakespeare play last year.
A couple of months ago I posted asking for feedback on painting ugly brick fireplaces. The general consensus was that we should have it tiled or leave it because it's sacrilege to paint brick. After hemming and hawing over it for the past few months, I've decided that I am going to paint it white. The beamed ceiling is painted white, and as you can see to the right the rest of the woodwork in the back of the house is also painted white so I don't think it'll be quite so jarring. I also think it'll help lighten up the space and bring some brightness to what is otherwise a very dark corner.
Speaking of the woodwork in the back half of the house - you can see to the right of the fireplace the doorway that goes from the kitchen to a very small hallway (it's about as long as I am tall), that leads to my office on the left and the restroom straight ahead. A couple of weekends ago I asked Alan to take the glass-paned wood door off its hinges to create more space in that area. It was remarkable how much larger it seemed just by gaining that wall back and about three inches of floor space. Now we need to paint and change out the lighting to make it feel more usable and less like a secret passage through a dungeon. Because it gets no natural light whatsoever, I'm going to add a mirror to hopefully bounce the light from my office - the brightest room in the whole house - into the hallway space. I'd also like to add a pretty little chandelier to give it some style.