Keep Your Fireplace Welcoming, Functional

Keep Your Fireplace Welcoming, Functional

Few things are nicer than a cozy fire on a cold winter night, whether you're surrounded with loved ones or just enjoying a peaceful night on your own.

As the centerpiece of the living room, a well-maintained and thoughtfully decorated fireplace can transform the entire space into a brighter, more welcoming place to be.

Before anything else, make sure your fireplace is clean. Scrub old soot away from the bricks with baking soda paste or specialty brick cleaner, remove any cobwebs and sweep away any old ashes. Once the ashes are out, do a visual inspection for cracks, holes, and chips inside the fireplace. Call a licensed chimney sweep to perform any repairs and do an annual inspection.

If your mantle looks a little drab, consider painting or polishing it. Look for paints made specifically for bricks and fireplaces. Clean the surface with a stiff wire brush first and apply a tinted primer to the mortar before you paint. Make sure you pick a color you can live with for a long time -- removing paint from brick is a tedious process.

After your surfaces are cleaned and ready, add your preferred ornaments. Anchor the look with a large item like a mirror, then choose smaller objects to fill the space around it. Groups of differently-sized vases or collections of candlesticks are great choices. Natural items like rocks or crystals also add interest.

You can also update your fireplace accessories and firewood storage. Look for grates, pokers, brushes, pans, lighters, and stands that work with your existing decor. Make sure they're functional for you -- these are real tools to help you keep the fire burning.

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