Due to the winter holidays, and the miraculous fact that we have no active construction projects in the house, my family has been spending a lot more time enjoying our sitting and living rooms lately.
Our parlor, in particular, was the center of our holiday universe. It’s where we hung the stockings and put the tree, and it’s the first room guests see when the arrive at our home. (Oh, and it’s where we stash the booze.)
It’s a small but fantastic space, and we love how all the details have come together over time: the vintage chandelier, the Louis-Philippe mirror, the bronze-hued curtains that our kids use for games of hide-and-seek. Dressed with holiday greens, the room just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and not just because of the spiced rum.
Come next winter, though, I’d LOVE to be able to add a roaring fire to the scene. That’s a tall order, and more complex than simply calling a chimney sweep to come spruce up an old fireplace that hasn’t been maintained.
First of all, neither of the original marble mantels in our house—one in the parlor, one in the bedroom directly above—has ever held a fire. From the home’s construction in 1860 until three years ago, when we upgraded the house’s heating and cooling systems, the “fireplaces” were essentially giant heating vents that distributed warm air throughout the house.
Now that’s we’ve changed the HVAC system and run alternate ductwork throughout the house, these pretty surrounds and iron grates are just decorative.
To get crackling wood fires into these rooms, we’d have to prepare the chimney with masonry work, a stainless-steel liner, insulation, and flues—likely a five-figure expense. The alternative is to put in gas fireplaces, which will still require some chimney prep for insulation and venting, but it’ll be less extensive (and less expensive), so we’re going that route.
I'm optimistic that these will fit within our mantels, but we’re still in the research phase and need to confirm. Then we have to purchase and have them installed. (Cha-ching!) So while we’re doing that, I’m just going to post some pics of fire-ready marble mantels similar to ours, and dream of the day when we, too, can toast ourselves (with heat AND bubbly) by a flickering hearth.
Enjoy the gorgeousness.