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Photography by Victoria Campbell

There is nothing quite like gathering around a warm fireplace on a chilly evening, watching the flames, hearing the logs crackle and enjoying that comforting, woodsy scent as it fills your home. Fireplaces are generally the heart of the home, and the sound and smell of a fire have an almost magical power, drawing us in and offering a sense of calm.

A fireplace adds an element of elegance and sophistication to just about any room in a way nothing else can. In fact, the National Center for Real Estate Research discovered that each fireplace adds upward of $12,000 to a home’s value, with wood-burning varieties being the most popular. Whether your style is modern, traditional, farmhouse or somewhere in between, a room with a fireplace just feels more welcoming. And the hearth need not draw attention to itself to have an impact; modern fireplaces now fit seamlessly into full wall systems and existing millwork.

As in everything, details matter. Ensure the finishes and fittings of your fireplace fit your functional needs as well as your aesthetic style. Simply accessorize with the right tools and surface materials to suite. Use boxes, baskets and urns to hold wood, and keep kindling and matches nearby.

Details also matter when it comes to the wood you burn. Here in the North, debarked red oak is best. Debarking minimizes both ash and smoke, producing a cleaner burn. Store your wood outside until dry then cover or move it indoors to protect it from the elements and the insects. And yes, find a chimney sweep to keep your chimney in good working order; I recommend a cleaning and inspection once a year.

Don’t overlook the opportunities that hearths and mantels offer. They are wonderful for dramatic statements and seasonal decor. I like to layer my fireplace mantels with elements that add joy, sparkle and intrigue, creating a visual language that can be carried throughout my home. 

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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