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Back to School Mantel and a DIY Dictionary Page Bunting

Hello all! I am so excited today to share a Back to School Mantel  – on our newly finished ‘faux’ mantel cabinet. I will share a little more about how we actually created the cabinet next week….back to school mantel with globe, chalkboards, vintage books, apples, pencils, rulers, DIY dictionary page buntings at thehappyhousie

So it seems the time for back to school has nearly arrived and summer is drawing to a close. Where we live school begins the day after labour day and I am gradually switching my brain back into teaching mode. To help me get a little more mentally prepared I thought it would be fun to do a ‘back to school’ theme for my first mantelscape. While I was able to collect most objects from around our home, I did DIY the book page bunting using pages from an old dictionary.

For this quick and easy bunting you need a book (or other paper of your choice), scissors, a hole punch, and some twine. I began by cutting three pages out of the dictionary (sorry for any discomfort this might cause some of you English teacher types…)


I cut each of these pages into four equal sections and then piled a few together at a time to cut them into a inverse pointed flag shape…


Be casual about it… they don’t have to be perfect. Next I  hole punched the top in two spots and fed the twine through.


My friend and colleague Megan taught me this quick and easy method back when she made a St. Patrick’s Day Bunting for me at one of our craft nights.

DIY book page dictionary page bunting at thehappyhousie


Once the bunting was finished I hung it using some tape on the top of the mantel and then got busy styling the rest of the mantel. I was so over the top excited about this that I may as well have been at a Madonna concert belting out Like a Prayer…

back to school mantel with DIY Dictionary book page bunting at thehappyhousie

 Many of the items on this mantel-scape are ‘vintage’ (aka picked up for a song at garage sales). Back to School Mantel with globe, vintage books, apples, flash cards, chalkboard, dictionary book page bunting at thehappyhousie

The globe and books were garage sale finds, while the hurricane is from Dollarama and was dressed up with a little of my favourite “Bahama Sea” Krylon spray paint. The apples were a dollar store find as well.

back to school mantel with vintage globe, vintage books, hurricane with apples, flash cards, chalkboard at thehappyhousie

The big chalkboard is actually black foam board in a repainted vintage oil painting frame that I picked up at a garage sale when I was going through my vintage oil painting obsession last spring. The small chalkboard is also foam board in a painted IKEA frame, leftover from my linen closet makeover.Back to school Mantel with vintage books, chalkboards, flash cards, vintage globes, DIY dictionary page bunting at thehappyhousie

The green chalkboard and chalk brush are part of my personal collection of mini chalkboards for school. I picked up the letter “a” at Michaels on a recent trip and treated it to some “Bahama Sea”, while the magnifying glass usually lives in my son’s room. back to school mantel with chalkboards, letters, magnifying glass at thehappyhousie

The cake tray was a damaged garage sale find treated to some more “Bahama Sea” while the clipboard and Dick and Jane book and rulers are from my teaching supplies. back to school mantel with pencils and rulers in mason jars, vintage books, clipboards on wall at thehappyhousie

The little rustic apple and large clip were gathered from other places in our house though I think they are both originally from Home Sense. back to school mantel with rustic apple on vintage books at thehappyhousie

back to school mantel with pencils, rulers, mini composition books, giant clip at thehappyhousie

Okay, so if a little seasonal mantel décor gives you goose bumps, is that a sign that something is wrong with you?

back to school mantel with apples, globe, vintage books, chalkboards, pencils, mason jars, flash cards at thehappyhousie

I am pretty ridiculously excited about having a mantel now  – which some might argue further demonstrates the extent of my slightly deranged personality, but so be it. If we can’t make it to our thirties while fully embracing the truth of who we really are including our craziness, what is the point of maturing aging?

back to school mantel with globe, chalkboards, vintage books, apples, pencils, rulers, DIY dictionary page buntings at thehappyhousie

And if decorating your mantel makes you giddy as a school girl at a 90s pop concert –  then you might be a big ‘ol housie geek and that is absolutely A-OK.

Are you doing any seasonal decorating these days? Thinking about back to school or already back? Thinking about decorating for fall?? … which is coming VERY soon… and if I was giddy over back to school decorating I think I will be a big crunchy nut over fall décor.

Thanks for reading. And remember my housie friends, HOME isn’t built in a day. Enjoy the journey!


 This project was featured at!

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  1. Hi

    Your whole idea of back to school mantel decoration is so so nice and awesome.
    I have looked at your pictures and came up with what I had in my house.

    I did the back to school decorations for my son ‘s 5 th birthday today.
    Just as a friendly gesture I wanted to post my pic to you but I don’t see that option.
    Mine is not as great as that of yours 🙂

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  3. Hi Krista, You know I love this and featured it at Project Inspire{d}! Thanks for linking up! I’ll also be pinning it to our PI Pinterest Board. Have a lovely day!

  4. So cute Krista!! Love all of your little touches! I SO wish it wasn’t actually back to school time though! 🙂 Have a great last week!

  5. It’s really cute! I like the encyclopedia pages.
    The new “mantel” looks great! I am all for getting excited about stuff like that. It’s been a while since we have actually accomplished anything in our house to get happy over!

    1. Thank you Jennie! Glad to inspire you… it hasn’t made my son want to go back to school so far though – he is holding out for a little more summer:)

    1. Hi Janis! I think it must be a teacher thing… we have such strong connections to so many of the items. Both from our teaching times and from our school days, perhaps. Thanks so much for your visit and super kind comments!!

  6. You are adorable Krista! 🙂 I would love to have a mantel, we are still considering putting one up because we need to have our fireplace inspected before using it (we keep talking about it and forgetting about it) 🙂 but yours looks so pretty and ready for school and if I would have a mantel, I would be as excited as you are about it now too! 🙂
    can’t wait to see pictures of how you will decorate it for Fall and Christmas 🙂
    wish you a great weekend Krista!

    1. Hi Ingrid! Ya… I am already thinking and pinning ideas for a fall mantel. Haha. I can see this little mantel will probably get a lot of attention:) I think a mantel is a great idea- if you can add one to your fireplace you should! We don’t even have a fireplace…. it is on the “one-day” list!

  7. I so agree with you Krista – what’s the pint of ‘aging’ right if you can’t do what you want?! Love your ‘mantle’, SO YOU! Teacher at heart and at home! Love the book page garland, genius as always dear. 🙂

  8. The mantel looks beautiful Krista! I need a one too!! But first I should renovate my bathroom, kitchen, Gabrielle’s room… and the list goes on and on and on and on… I think you get the point HAHA 🙂

    1. Hi Christine! I know about the list:) Actually…. a real fireplace (or gas insert) is on our list too… but way down there after finishing the landscaping, redoing the kitchen, putting new siding on our house…etc. So this little cabinet is meant to hold me over for a few years! LOL:)

  9. Krista, what a super cute mantel! Makes me nostalgic for the school days of my own children! I especially LOVE the dictionary bunting, because honestly, we need to something with those dictionaries now that everything is online, right? 🙂 Such a great idea!!! Thanks so much for sharing and have a happy Friday! Hope to see you at Best of the Weekend tonight!

    1. Thank you Cindy! And it was so fun to get to decorate a ‘mantel’ even if it is a faux mantel:) I will definitely be at your party tonight… I’ll bring my mantel with me:)

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