I feel obliged to preface this exciting entry with a brief aside regarding the state of affairs in our small town with respect to fireplaces. Well, they can be found in many homes and are rather prominent features in most ranch homes as well. They are varied in composition (natural stone, cantera, tile, and wood) and in size, but they virtually always share one characteristic in common. They are not often used.
Why? Well our small south Texas town boasts temperatures in the 90's nearly the entire year through. Thus, it is not uncommon to see most, if not all, of these beautiful wood burning fireplaces sealed in some manner or another. Sealed--as in not to be bothered with...ever. Whether it is the lack of chilly temperatures or the trouble one must go through to unseal the fireplace, there always seems to be some disincentive for sparking up a flame.
It bears mentioning that our sitting room started our looking like this...
Shall I attempt to read your mind?
Who would ever...? How could they think...? Why that color palette, that portrait, etc...?
My sentiments exactly!
The very first time that my husband and I walked in to our home, we were highly inclined to end the realtor's tour at its very start; needless to say, the plum explosion that was the sitting room made quite the negative first impression. While I couldn't begin to understand what could have brought the previous homeowner to willingly do this to her home (and all its visitors), we treaded on through and were rewarded greatly for doing so. The home turned out to be a true treasure for us; it was beautiful, warm, elegant, and remarkably similar to the "dream home" that had long occupied my daydreams, notwithstanding the sitting room, of course.
Once we had become the proud owners of our new home, we took to transforming--straight away. We painted over the plum (several coats) and over time, we were able to create a living space that was a true reflection of our style (well mostly mine). Over two years, we have added an antique french-inspired settee, a pair of lovely antique chairs (a donation from my husband's grandmother and reupholstered by my own), a few pieces of charming artwork that my husband's grandmother purchased in Europe in the 1960's (again, another kind donation), and of course our amazing fireplace! A few delicate porcelain, silver and crystal accessories handed down to us from my mother, other grandmother and aunt, and of course a few incredible TJ Maxx finds really help to pull the room together.
All of which has brought me to this very point...
Okay, okay, I am more than a sucker for the holiday season (which, incidentally, for me begins in September--tee hee). I thoroughly enjoy corresponding crisper temperatures (as crisp-less as they might seem to a non-local), autumnal hues (not to be found naturally in the cactus and mesquite that surrounds me, but at my neighborhood Hobby Lobby), the home cooked smells of pastries, pies and cookies (that somehow become more calorically acceptable to me once November comes around), and of course the trimming of our Christmas tree (which I refuse to disassemble until well into January).
But last year, as we spent our first Christmas as husband and wife in our new home and had purchased and decorated our first Christmas tree, I begrudgingly resorted to hanging our two stockings on the banister. Afterall, it is not as though we had a mantel to place them upon--UNTIL NOW!
Yes, yes, my husband and I designed and built our very own (faux) fireplace, and just in time for the holiday season, no less! And because we felt there was little practical need for a fully functioning fireplace (as per above), we were able to get away with making only a small investment that ultimately had a huge aesthetic pay off.
In fact, we were so pleased with the results that I couldn't wait to share this fantastic and frugal idea with you all. If we can pull this off, you can too! We designed our hearth from scratch, but the internet abounds with ideas and outright carpentry plans so that you can make your very own. If you have $100 and a free weekend to spare, why not treat your home and your family to its very own hearth? It just might be the best gift of the season.