Decorating Ideas for your Fireplace in Off Seasons
Like an unheated swimming pool in winter, what exactly do you do with a fireplace in summertime? Part of the visual appeal of a fireplace is the promise of warmth it can provide when the weather is cold. It is possible, however, to decorate a fireplace in such a way that it becomes a cohesive part of your décor even when it is not serving an otherwise useful purpose; but we recommend a couple of other steps first.
First thing first; and we suggest that when winter is over, you first get the chimney inspected by a professional. It’s possible that major repairs will be needed because harsh winters are very hard on masonry chimneys. If there has been a great deal of ice and snow, the moisture in the chimney system can do a great deal of damage. It’s possible the bricks have begun to crumble due to weather, and the flashing may be damaged, which means there could be a leak in your attic that you haven’t discovered yet.
There are two good reasons to start with an inspection. First, if there is damage, the cost of repairs only increases as time goes by. For instance, if the mortar on your masonry chimney has deteriorated, it should be replaced before the masonry is exposed to excess moisture and begins to deteriorate, too. Secondly, if repairs are needed, such as the replacement of a lining, you have some extra time to get the repairs completed before winter comes back around.
Second, have your chimney cleaned. If you are going to decorate your fireplace, you want it to be scrubbed clean. You can pay a professional sweep to do the job of spiffing up the hearth and mantel or you can do it yourself. The following is a basic step-by-step guide for doing the grimy work of cleaning the fireplace:
- Remove all ashes from the hearth with a fireplace shovel; be sure the ashes are completely cold.
- Vacuum the fireplace.
- Put on protective rubber gloves, prepare a mixture of all-purpose household cleaner and water, and use a sponge to wash the fireplace face and outer hearth. You may need to skip the scrubbing step, however, if the brick and mortar is very old, such as 50 years plus, because scrubbing it could cause the mortar and brick to crumble.
- If the job is a particularly grimy one, you may need to remove as much smoky deposit as possible using Fels-Naptha soap. This involves adding the special soap to hot water on the stove until it dissolves. After the mixture is removed from the heat and cooled, mix in ½ cup of household ammonia and ½ pound of powdered pumice. Use a paint brush to apply the soap mixture. After the coating has been on for about 45 minutes, more or less, scrub the area with warm water and a scrub brush. Rinse with lots of water and a sponge.
Third, create or find a decorating idea for your fireplace that fits with and complements the surrounding décor. An ornate fire screen in front of the open hearth is definitely nice, but there are many ways to add a bit more to the look so that your fireplace becomes a wonderful focal point for all seasons. There are countless ideas in magazines and online. Here are some ideas that could work for you:
- Find a decorative candelabrum that will fit in the firebox and add candles of different sizes in and all around it.
- Birch wood twigs, with the white coloring and textured bark, look stunning when bundled together. Tie a bundle together and place it in the fireplace, and that alone can achieve a great look.
- Arrange a hearth full of books in a way that looks both professionally arranged and inviting for book lovers.
- Place various botanicals in clear glass containers in the fireplace and on the mantel.
- If the room could use additional light and more space, place a fitted mirror in the hearth opening.
Give us a call for a chimney inspection and cleaning, whether you live in NW Illinois, SW Wisconsin, or NE Iowa. Our chimney professionals will be happy to help you with all of your venting system needs so that you can safely use and enjoy your fireplace or wood stove. As far as decorating goes, we’d probably prefer to leave that part to your personal tastes and preferences.
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