Once the Christmas season is over, most fireplaces are transformed from the belle of the ball into a sad, drab wallflower.
All the lush garlands, the brilliant lights, the stockings that were hung by the chimney with care, go into boxes, leaving a naked fireplace.
But why? A fireplace is usually the focus of a room all year long, whether or not you want it to be. Something that prominent deserves a better fate.
Some design experts suggest dressing up fireplaces to go with each season, so that, as a focal point, it makes a statement worth listening to all year long.
With spring upon us, Sue Fox of Fox Interior Design in Colorado Springs, Colo., has suggestions on how to make your fireplace a showcase for seasonal decorating looks, all on a budget.
The days are getting longer, and it's a time to start thinking about gardens, flowers and new life. The spring look might include a faux garden gate (on the mantel), flanked by topiary-like floral arrangements. Decorative pillows feature butterflies and a dog lying in a garden. Silk flowers bedeck a garden statue of a young girl. Balance comes from a large fern-like arrangement. P.S.: If you are likely to keep using your fireplaces on chilly spring days, use easy-to-move items in your decor.
"We're going to the beach," Fox says. Decoratively speaking, anyway. A watercolor in "beach tones" of blues, corals and purples sets the color scheme, augmented by seashells from Fox's personal collection. A spray of sea grass on one side sets the stage for a collection of lighthouses. "The colors don't all have to be matchy-matchy," she says. "And lighthouses are really hot in decorating right now." Throw in some photos of your last beach vacation or cruise, and you're all set. Fox advises against putting things in the firebox itself. "If it's wood-burning, it'll be dirty. If it's gas, you don't want anything flammable near that pilot light."
The geraniums are still blooming and the gourds are ripening. Fall is a transition time calling for warm, rosy colors. Bright red wooden apples spill from a copper basket. A Victorian traveling case on the hearth makes a perfect "planter" for red silk geraniums. Raffia balls and a faux topiary tree provide dried shapes that create interest. The leather-framed mirror anchors the whole arrangement. This is the time of year when we're likely to start using our fireplaces again, so it wouldn't be inappropriate to tuck in a hassock and some lounging pillows close to the hearth.
Turn the mirror sideways to get a different effect, then place a wrought-iron candleholder in front. Light the candles for nice night-time reflections in the glass. A winter look doesn't have to be a Christmas look, although you can add garland and ribbon for the holidays without changing the essential arrangement.
Huge pine cones replace the apples in the copper basket. A carved, painted red fox, the designer's "signature" piece, rests on the hearth, taking a long winter's nap. Another nice addition to the display might be some pomegranates, real or fake, if you can find them, Fox says.