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Life and living: Fireplace finds and safety features

A fireplace can create the right ambience for a social gathering or offer a quiet place to relax, get comfy and warm up. To make your experience a respite for the spirit and the eyes, cozy up to these décor and maintenance tips:

If your fireplace doesn’t already have a mantel, consider adding one

It adds architectural interest and provides a place to display favorite artwork and pottery.

Fireplace spaces can be refreshed with small, subtle changes

A fresh coat of paint and a new picture on the wall above the mantel or new candles and picture frames on the mantle itself can make a big difference. 

Stop at that unique store or boutique you’ve been curious to explore

You may be able to find a mix of distinctive accessories for your mantel or to set on the hearth in front of the fireplace.

Replace your fire screen

It’s a great way to freshen up a fireplace and pull together new décor.

Paint the brick to give your fireplace a fresh look

Sometimes older fireplaces need a little more love. If the fireplace needs a little more investment, consider new brickwork or a touch up to the tiles or stones on the hearth.

Surround your fireplace with bookshelves

This project can be done within a range of budgets and styles, from basic built-ins to custom design.

Wrap the fireplace surround in stone veneer

A stone facade can add character to a room and become the focal point.

In addition to making your fireplace aesthetically pleasing, it’s critically important to follow these essential guidelines for safety:

  • All chimneys should be inspected and cleaned by a reputable chimney cleaning professional at least once a year, or about once every 80 fires.

  • Check the firebricks inside the fireplace for cracks and loose joints, and check the exterior for damage. If you find that repairs need to be made, always hire a professional. It’s never wise to attempt a fireplace repair yourself.

  • Make sure the fireplace damper is working properly and that no debris prevents it from opening and closing. Confirm that the chimney cap has protective screening to keep birds, squirrels, bats and other pests from entering the chimney.

  • Prune tree limbs that hang over the chimney. Not only are they a fire hazard, but they can also restrict the proper draft of the chimney and damage the cap.

  • Best practice is to clean out the firebox once a week, or whenever ash is more than an inch deep. Make sure everything is completely cold as coals can remain hot for up to three days.

  • If you have a gas fireplace, check to make sure the pilot light is on and the vents are all clear and working properly.

  • If you have an electric fireplace, check all the wires to make sure none are frayed or broken. 

  • For gas and electric fireplaces, make sure that all connectors are securely fastened, and be sure to vacuum and dust the fireplace on a regular basis.

With a newly decorated and properly maintained fireplace, you’re set to enjoy your fireplace all winter long. 

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