By Sara Williams
The fireplace is a focal point of the home, and yet it is often overlooked when decorating. When the seasons change, so should your fireplace décor. Adding a new mantel, a splash of color or a few simple decorative objects can change and enhance the look and mood of a room.
When decorating the mantel and hearth, keep it simple, recommends Laura Buehner of La Maison Accessories and Interior Design of Akron. “When you head into the holiday season, things start to get cluttered,” Buehner says. “Don’t fill in every naked spot.”
Using what is in season and provided by nature can lend a mantel the desired seasonal look. Buehner recommends decorating with branches when the leaves start to turn or filling baskets with pine cones, gourds, pears or apples. “I think it can be the most gratifying to use what you have,” Buehner says. “It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.”
Decorations can be simple and easily changed by using large glass cylindrical vases, baskets, buckets, urns or ceramic pots to hold seasonal objects. For instance, simply fill a glass vase with gourds or pumpkins for fall and then replace with pine cones for winter, Buehner suggests.
Placement of decorations is a key element of design. The items should be balanced by height, weight and texture. In other words, having a tall, thin vase on one side of the mantel and a short, fat vase on the other looks unbalanced.
When decorating, group objects in odd-numbered clusters. If the items are big, such as baskets, cluster them in groups of three. If using small items, such as pine cones, a group of five looks better than would an even number, Jennifer S. Miner of La Maison says.
Painting is another option for changing the look of a fireplace. The fireplace itself could be painted to look like faux stone or another faux finish. This option can save money because there is nothing to demolish or replace. A faux finish artist could cost at least $800, or you could do it yourself with a kit that costs $200.
Or, simply painting the wall above the fireplace and making it an accent wall really changes the look, Miner explains. For color, she recommends something deep such as gold, green, orange, red or chocolate.
Candles are likely a part of autumn and winter decorations on the mantel, hearth or even to replace the chunky wood in the firebox. “It’s big now to burn candles in the hearth,” Miner says. “A sexy cinnamon or potpourri candle would be nice this season.”
For many, flowers are a part of seasonal décor, but put them in one spot, Miner says. If using flowers on the hearth, do not also put them on the mantel.
If you want to do more than place decorations, perhaps a whole new mantel is in order. There are a variety of options to choose from, depending on the amount of time and money you want to invest.
A custom-designed fireplace can be the most expensive choice, but it leaves the most room for options and creativity. Prices range from about $1,000 to $5,000.
A cheaper option is buying a do-it-yourself kit, with mantel kits starting at $250. These can be ordered online or purchased at any home-improvement store.
The perfect mantel may be found by perusing antique shops or architectural salvage yards. These prices vary according to the quality and whatever bargains you may find, but expect to pay a bit more.
Or, instead of replacing the mantel, just get a decorative shelf. Prices can start at $150.
Simply changing the fireplace screen can add a whole new look and complement the seasonal décor. A new screen starts at about $60.
Whether redecorating or replacing the fireplace mantel, these changes are sure to bring a cozy place to enjoy the changing seasons.
Chimney and Fireplace Care
Cozy up to the fire responsibly.
Don’t wait until it’s time for Santa’s visit before having your chimney cleaned. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends scheduling a chimney inspection at the beginning of each heating season.
Before hiring a chimney sweep, be sure to verify their credentials, check references and take the time to learn the parts of your chimney for effective communication with a professional chimney sweep.
Tips from the Chimney Safety Institute of America:
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
- Keep branches and tree limbs at least 15 feet from the top of the chimney.
- Use a chimney cap to keep animals and debris out of the chimney.
- Use wood that has been split and stored for at least six months to one year.
- Build fires by placing firewood at the rear of the fireplace.
- Don’t start the fire with flammable liquids, use kindling or a firelighter.
- Keep combustible material such as furniture at least 36 inches from the hearth.
- Use a fireplace screen to catch flying sparks that could burn carpet or flooring.
- Before going to bed, make sure the fire is extinguished. Never leave a fire unattended.
- Use smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.