For hundreds of years before television, living rooms were arranged around the fireplace. On winter evenings it was the main source of light and heat in the home, and where the family naturally gathered.
These days, with the rise of personal tablets and internet TV, and with modern flat screen TVs being far less imposing and bulky, the fireplace is making something of a resurgence and is once again becoming the focal point of our living rooms. It’s the area of the home that we spend the majority of our waking hours in, and where we invest the most effort in creating a space that reflects our personality and makes us feel content and secure.
As the interior design gurus will tell you, a fireplace is brilliant for providing an anchor point that dictates the positioning of furniture and the natural flow of the room. Whether you are an aficionado of minimalist design or prefer the country cottage look there will be a fireplace or wood burner that is exactly right for the space. You can then extend the theme to the décor and accessories in the room using a colour, texture or material. Or even a joyful clash of all three if you follow the latest advice of those design gurus.
A word of warning though; in dressed photographs in catalogues and glossy magazines you will often see firewood stacked right next to an open fire, or even beneath a wood burner. While it may look stylish, in practical terms this is a really bad idea as a stray spark could easily ignite the logs. It is much safer to store them in a steel or copper bucket to the side of the fireplace. These containers come in all sorts of attractive designs and along with your rack of fireplace tools, they can be decorative in their own right.
Speaking of fire hazards, there is one time of year when the fireplace is both the star of the show and the potential showstopper. Christmas is a time when light, warmth, and family togetherness are at the front of our minds. It isn’t a coincidence that fireplaces feature so heavily on Christmas cards; a hearth is the perfect place to display cards, drape holly garlands, and of course the fireplace is where Father Christmas makes his big entrance.
A word of caution though; for the rest of the year we wouldn’t dream of leaving highly flammable objects right next to an open fire. Tinsel, synthetic present stockings and fake snow are all a big fire risk. Keep them well away from the flames or better still go rustic and use natural decorations that won’t catch fire. A bracing walk in the country is a great way to get some fresh air and work off some of those mince pies, but it is also an opportunity to forage for fresh green holly or ivy to make a Christmas wreath, or pick up chestnuts that can be used to make all sorts of seasonal decorations. Your children will love getting involved, you will be cutting down on plastic waste, and best of all in the new year the decorations can go in the green waste and you get to do it all again next Christmas.