08 September 2008

Hearth and Soul

What is it about a fireplace that just says "home"? Of all the features one can find in a house, the fireplace has to be one of the most sought after. And yet, they're inefficient. They take up valuable wall space. They're frequently the source of unwanted house guests (birds, raccoons, and in the case of our last house, wasps *shudder*) They can also be the source of uncontrolled fires. And you have to stick a Victorian waif down the chimney in order to get them clean. Okay, maybe not the last one.

Because of the aforementioned wasp issue (luckily it was just the dying ones that were looking for some warmth late in the year, but still...) I wasn't exactly keen to get a fireplace in the new place. And yet, when I saw this beauty taking up almost an entire wall:

Well, let's just say it didn't make me want the house any less. Shortly after moving in, I was fussing over furniture placement as I attempted not to hide the fireplace from view (I believe decorators would call it the "focal point" of the room).

I spend a fair amount of time planning my dream house, and I have to admit, all my plans include fireplaces. For the longest time, I wanted a huge, old-fashioned
hearth in the kitchen, the kind you could roast an entire animal in. I pictured a cast iron cauldron bubbling away in there. Even now, it's not unappealing.

More recently I've come to appreciate the elegance of Victorian fireplaces and mantles. You can't roast an animal in them, but they'd be gorgeous in a bedroom or two (and still good for marshmallows).

I could see, give free reign and limitless budget, that I'd include a fireplace in just about every room. Hell, I'd put one in the backyard too, air quality be damned!

Fireplaces, for me anyway, seem to speak directly to the heart. Their drawbacks just don't seem to matter that much...

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