Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fireplaces in the News

Antique Fireplaces Are Interesting, But Are They Realistic?

Fireplaces seem to get hotter all the time. How else do you explain two articles in two days about how cool they are--and in, of all places, the New York Times?

The latest thing, apparently, is to retrofit your fireplace with vintage accessories, like old andirons and antique screens. And overall, it seems like a pretty sharp idea--a way to make your fireplace a one-of-a-kind focal point and get your friends talking about your aesthetic sensibilities.

I mean, I gotta tell you: if I could track down a 19th century wrought iron and bronze firescreen like the one New York restaurateur and hotelier Sean MacPherson found at a demolition resale outlet, my fireplace enthusiast heart would be, well, stoked. After all, how cool would it be to have a genuine antique like that one right here in my living room? I might even consider selling tickets.

Problem is, Macpherson apparently paid $8,500 for that rusty old hunk of metal, beautiful though it may be once he finishes refinishing it, and that's a just a wee bit more than we can realistically justify here at the blogspot. I mean, can you imagine what the missus would say when she finally noticed the price tag?

Of course, I don't mean to make too much fun of Mr. MacPherson. On the contrary, I respect just about anybody out there who himself respects and enjoys a well-built fire. And to be entirely fair, next time I make it up to the Big Apple I might just have to check out one of his businesses, if only so I can see firsthand the works of art he has given new life. Kudos, indeed. In the meantime, however, I intend to work with what I have--and what I can afford.

While I may, in fact, go rummaging around for some vintage tools--it never hurts to have more than one set, I always say--I am more inclined, in most cases, to look for affordable fireplace alternatives, to hunt down those accessories that will give me a coveted antique look without costing me a modern-day fortune. That's right, I'm talking about replicas, people.

After all, what announces the fireplace's overall aesthetic more immediately than a mantel that looks old but actually isn't? What's better than a vintage look without all that rust, never mind the antique market markup? For my money it's almost always better to say "out with the old, in with the new"-- at least until I can afford to spend $8,500 on a single piece of metal.

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