Everything You Need to Know Before Using Your Fireplace
We heart our fireplace. Not only do we orient our furniture toward it, we spend time dressing it up, decorating the mantel and drawing attention to its features. We may even go so far as to create our own non-working version. When temperatures dip, most of us dream of cozying up to a roaring fire. But what if your home has a less-than-desirable fireplace? Maybe you’re not even sure it works? Or perhaps you don’t know how to build a proper fire? Whether you rent or own your home, if you have a working fireplace you should know the very basics about operating it safely. Here are some simple tips for having the best darn fireplace ever.
You don’t need a contractor’s license to understand your fireplace. Knowing its parts will help you when you need something fixed or replaced. A standard, wood-burning fireplace consists of a hearth (the floor in front of the fireplace), the firebox (the “hole” where the wood burns), the damper (the lever that opens or closes the flue) and the smoke chamber and flue (the inside of the chimney that draws smoke up and out). The grate (sometimes called a dog grate) holds the firewood and is elevated to allow for air circulation. Andirons (also known as firedogs) are a pair decorative metal pieces that are designed to further support the firewood.
Give It Some Love
If you feel that your fireplace really needs some work done to the firebox, damper or any chimney, be sure to call in a contractor. If you simply want an updated fireplace screen, andirons or fireplace tools, there are plenty of websites out there that can ship products right to your door. If you already like the screens and accessories you have but they’re looking worse for wear, they may just need a good scrubbing with soap and water. You can also give an old screen a new color. Just be sure to use the right paint for the job (like Rust-oleum High Heat). If you have an old fireplace, like what you’d see in a brownstone, there are all sorts of vintage accessories that can really elevate your style. In the summer you can install a “summer piece” or chimneyboard, which are decorative pieces meant to fit over the opening and keep out the draft. Try a site like Fireplace Antique Store or Ebay.
Master Fire Building
Once your fireplace is deemed safe for use, you’re ready to build that roaring fire. To build the most effective fire you’ll want to use seasoned firewood. Wood that was split over a year ago won’t contribute to creosote buildup or be as smokey. Also, do not burn wood scraps. You don’t know if those scraps were treated with chemicals and you could be burning tainted wood. Take kindling wood (the thinner, drier pieces of firewood) and lay them lengthwise across your grate. Next, take two large logs and lay them perpendicular to the kindling. Finally, lay additional firewood lengthwise on top of the stack. Before you light the kindling, open the damper and hold a lit newspaper up into the flue to warm up the chimney. Now you’re ready to light the fire!
A Word About Fireplace Safety
We don’t mean to put a damper on your flames, but sadly, nearly 14,000 house fires each year originate in the fireplace. Even if you’re a casual fire builder, use common sense when enjoying your fireplace. Sparks and embers can be as hot as a roaring fire, and a screen is your first defense against floating embers. Keep your pretty (albeit flammable) decorations far away from the fireplace when in use. You’ll also want to have your chimney inspected by a licensed chimney sweep (or ask your landlord to provide proof of one). Why? Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood and is highly combustible. It can build up in the chimney, block the flow of air and smoke and actually catch on fire. A chimney sweep is trained to inspect the chimney and remove creosote, which should be done on an annual basis.
What are your best fireplace tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Pocket doors are so delightful in and of themselves. They appear when you need them, get tucked away when you don't, and make it easy to define rooms while keeping an open floor plan. Add to the pocket door a joyful patterned wallpaper surprise, and you will be sent right into fits of visual jubilation! Or something ;) Today we're sharing two simple and impactful pocket door makeovers that zhuzh up your space in a jiffy.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and proud owner of several pocket doors! When I moved into my first real grown-up house a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate wallpaper so reached out to our friends at Chasing Paper to see how we might collaborate. It felt like a total lightbulb moment when I realized I could create a surprise pop of pattern on a couple sets of pocket doors.
Not only is it a whimsical way to bring color into a space, but the doors double as picture-perfect backdrops for all your SFH (selfies from home, obvs).
A few pro tips about install:
- Removable wallpaper is miraculously forgiving! You can take it on and off multiple times without it losing integrity (or mucking up your surface).
- I ordered this adhesive wallpaper installation kit with a squeegee and xacto knife and it worked super well. I also recommend a sharp pair of scissors for cutting longer lines.
- This is a two-person job! Get a friend, put on a playlist, and get ready to bond.
- Wild, organic patterns like Tally are great because it's challenging to spot any imperfections in pattern alignment; keep pattern choice in mind if you've got a lot of corners to match up. More geometric patterns and larger shapes leave less room for error (but are awesome in their own right!).
BATHROOM POCKET DOORS
In our primary bathroom, we chose the wallpaper pattern Tally, designed by Kelly Ventura, in White and Navy. In our space, the navy reads as a soft black, which is perfect for the space. It's easy to combine an ever-rotating collection of linens with the Tally pattern.
I love how the white trim becomes the perfect frame around this pocket door piece of art.
My favorite moment in this space is the fact that you actually get a third pop of pattern thanks to our serendipitously placed mirror!
And yes, this one works pretty darn well as a backdrop too ;)
LIVING ROOM DOUBLE DOORS
This set of doors is definitely a focal point of our home. It separates our living room from our primary bedroom which opens onto our backyard. The doors are pretty much always open, but when they're closed we wanted to evoke a fun, nature-inspired vibe. With that in mind, we selected the Lines and Moons pattern by Thimblepress in Green and Brown.
Earth mama vibes up in here! I love how the shapes and colors echo the ferns you see through the windows and the acorn wood details throughout the house.
Love this pattern moment, and xacto-ing out the door handle is def on the oddly satisfying DIY list.
For a pattern lover like me, I love that now I have this instant photo backdrop!
Thanks to Chasing Paper for providing these rolls of pure pattern amazingness. Head to chasingpaper.com to find our own favorites and start adding patterns to your home!
(Wallpaper wingwoman: Kayla Haykin; Photography: Kurt Andre)