Wide view, title picture of a wood mantel   with a pair of wood posts supporting vintage lanterns that are lit and adorned with linen bows and greenery. Between the lanterns are some green trees, pinecones and a pair of wire deer

DIY Distressed Wood Posts and Lanterns

for Farmhouse Christmas Mantel Decor

Stop them in their tracks with easy to make posts and lanterns for your Christmas mantel decor. No power? No worries — battery operated!​ .

12 Days of Christmas Series Graphic

WELCOME!!! To Day ONE of The Twelve Days of Christmas Making: Decorating Edition

For the next two weeks, I’m thrilled to be partnering with Lynn of Living Large in a Small House. We will be sharing and trading tips, tricks and tutorials to help us all plan for and organize the most epic holidays celebrations with low stress and. effort. Isn’t that what we all want?

I’m kicking us off with THE item from this year’s Christmas stocking styling that garnered the most questions and excitement.

Before we get started, I just have to say I am super pumped for tomorrow, Day 2, which will be Lynn’s from. the Entertaining Edition. Lynn is going to share her inside track on planning, organizing and executing fabulous holiday entertaining. I am all on board for that one. So you might want to jump over and subscribe to Lynn so you’re sure you don’t miss out. Go ahead. Jump over to Lynn, subscribe and jump right back; we’ll wait right here for you.

Great! You’re back.

Now we can get rolling.

Every year as I set and reset our mantel to photograph the South House Designs Christmas Stocking Collection (in July & August) I tell myself, I’m going to document all the different stylings and share my how-to’s with you all. Well, FINALLY, I am doing just that.

Displays of any kind, any size, do best when there is a focal point. But your Christmas mantel styling needs to really shine.

So let’s start with a focal point — actually a pair!

Wood Mantel above a roaring fire with a pair of distressed wood posts holding lit vintage lanterns flanking tall thin fir trees and lots of pinecones and even a pair of wire deer

 

We are blessed with two fireplaces with mantels in our house. But neither mantel has much height above or any power.

Can we agree extension cords are such bummers?

I needed to bring some visual interest, beyond a traditional wreath. Plus some lighting. 

Problem Solved: 

Closeup of one lantern on wood post with one tree and one reindeer

Last year a neighbor was refreshing their exterior light fixtures and gifting a pair of old, faded wall lanterns to anyone that could use them.

Ummm, YES, please!

So armed with these lanterns,  I needed to come up with a way. to make them battery operated and to “hang” them.

Once, I had it thought through, it was really very easy. Follow along!

What You Need to Make Lampposts For Your Mantel:

  • Lantern or wall lights of your choice. You can find similar ones at thrift stores and your local ReStore for typically $5 – $10 each.
  • Wood, I used reclaimed wood for a rustic, farmhouse look
  • Battery puck lights
  • Wood screws
  • Saw
  • Wire Snips
  • Drill and bits

A FEW NOTES: I had originally planned to give the lanterns a fresh coat of paint and really clean the glass and coat the inside with frosted glass spray paint. But, I had a couple of stocking groups that needed a real farmhouse touch. So I embraced the age and wear on these salvaged lanterns. This then dictated the use of reclaimed wood.

Otherwise, in our home, I would have stained some lumber mahogany like our mantel and used a bit of spit and polish on the lanterns. This is a simple project that can be translated into any decor language.

 

Step 1: Cut Your Wood

partial view of a man using a ryobi sliding compound miter saw to cut distressed wood planks
Two pieces of distressed wood cut and waiting to become a post

Cut two pieces of wood per post. Yes, these are very simplified “posts” — actually just the suggestion of a post.

I used salvaged boards I had stashed away for a “future project”

Determine the height you want for your lampposts. Because the wall above our mantel is very wide and short, I wanted our posts to go all the way to the ceiling.

Now this is where you get to learn from my mistake: do NOT assume that the wall is the same height across the width of the mantel. Mine has a full 1/2-inch difference between the two ends.

Now determine the length of the foot of your lamppost. You need the foot to be long enough enough to support the post, but not so wide that it interferes with the rest of your display. 

That said, for the sake of full transparency, we actually replaced the original feet, making them longer to support another very important part of our mantel display. That part will be coming up next in the Decorating Edition of our 12 Days of Christmas Making.

Have you subscribed yet so you are sure you don’t miss it?

 

Step 2: Assemble Your Posts

hands holding one plank against a brick wall to begin forming a post
Pair of hands holding the two planks of wood to make a 90 degree angle
The two planks screwed together forming a 90 degree angle

The vertical piece should sit up against the wall with the foot in front.

Holding your boards at a right angle, drive two or three wood screws through the upright piece into the foot.

We used a brick column on our patio to help hold the boards at a right angle.

 

Step 3) Attach Light Fixture to Your “Vintage” Lamp Post

Hand holding a Drill attaching a vintage lantern to the reclaimed wood post

Your fixtures will be different than mine, so you’ll need to improvise a bit here.

I clipped the extra wires since I made mine battery operated.

Then we removed two decorative machine screws on each fixture. Then I inserted wood screws through these holes and drove them into the wood at the desired height.

 

Step 4) Power Your Fixtures With Battery Power

planks standing upright with a vintage lantern attached

This is where the magic kicks in.

Instead of  lightbulbs, you want a pair of  LED battery powered puck lights, preferably remote controlled. I mean if we’re adding convenience, why not go all in, right?

Secure the puck lights to the base of the socket. Mine came with super heavy duty adhesive velcro pads. Where I went wrong was in not cleaning the socket thoroughly before adhering the adhesive pad. Lucky you, a second “learn-from-my-mistake” opportunity in one blog post.

Fresh cleaning and a dab of super glue and all is well. Almost! I wish I had thought of this project with enough time to really hunt down puck lights that are warmer white. I may still switch them out. I’m just not a fan of the blue LED light. But I am still smitten with my mantel lampposts.

Yes, be sure to get remote controlled puck lights. You really don’t want. to have to climb up and reach over and around all your holiday decor to turn them on and off.

That’s it! 

I promised they were easy — an inexpensive!

And do they pack a punch!

 

Long view of a fire in the fireplace with a wood surround and mantel with two distressed wood posts and vintage lanterns adorned with linen bows and greenery, with trees and oinecones filling the mantel between the lights

Don’t Have a Mantel?

No worries!

How about on the front porch?

Above a buffet or console table?

Do you have a screened porch you like to decorate?

 

How Do You Style Lampposts in Your Christmas Decorating?

 

Vintage Lantern on Wood Post with Simple wreath hanging on it.

The easiest by far is to hang a wreath around each fixture.

The finished vintage lantern on the post with the streamers of the linen bow finished in slip knots and the light now turned on

A close second for ease is to add a bow and some greenery.

planks standing upright with a vintage lantern attached

Here’s where you start your styling.

A linen bow is now added to the top of the lantern on the plank post

Add a bow with long streamers — here I used some linen fabric.

 

Vintage lantern hanging on a post with a linen bow and a length of greenery cascading from the top of the lantern

Add some greens – here I used half of a thin garland.

Then place one on each side of your display and fill the center with a large sign, or maybe some rustic trees or reindeer. Add whatever works with your holiday decorating theme.

Aren’t they wonderfull?

And talk about an easy transition from holiday to winter decor. 

 

The following links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase anything using these links, you pay NO extra, but I may receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend a product I do not believe in!

My very favorite drill. This bundle is complete and right at $100 — Can’t beat it!

These are NOT the puck lights I used. But they are the ones I wish I had — choice of color, choice of brightness, remote control. A pair and a spare, for $16!!!

And here’s a pack of two with all the same features, but in a black frame for $13.

 

 

 

You know you’re going to want this info, if not for yourself then for a friend, so be sure to save it on your

 

Christmas Decor board

or

Farmhouse Christmas board

or

Cottage Core board

or

Mantel Styling board

or

Wherever and Everywhere you want to find it.

 

Pin with a picture of one finished lamp post with lantern on the fireplace hearth

Thanks for joining us today, on this Day 1 of our 12 Days of Christmas Making: Decorating Edition.

I’m super excited about Day 2. Lynn, the queen of entertaining and organization is going to share with us some of her favorite foolproof ways to plan and organize our holidays celebrations.

Boy, do I need help in that department! You with me on that? Great, then I’ll see you tomorrow at Lynn’s.

Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane
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