Posted by Cobi on Monday January 24, 2011 at 07:00 AM
Tomorrow I’m appearing on the Steven & Chris show and I’ve taped a little piece in my own kitchen.
Although it’s been shown before, I thought it was a good place to talk about the whole idea of making a kitchen warm and inviting.
I’m a firm believer that your decorating shouldn’t stop at the door to the kitchen. Although a kitchen has to work harder than other rooms of the house, it should still be as inviting and comfortable as the others. We certainly spend enough time there!
Since my kitchen was first published in House & Home in about 2003, people have written to me with questions and comments. It was published again in Chatelaine last fall. I hadn’t owned the film until now and so I was unable to show it myself. I think the thing that people respond to most is the ‘homey’ quality of the room brought on by the colours; details like the cutouts over the shelves and the chintz curtains; and of course the windows.
Everyone loves the windows…
And the bronze and porcelain light fixtures from France (unfortunately the lady whom I purchased them from is no longer in business but I blogged about them in May 2009 if you want to look back for more info.)
We only had room for a corner banquet in the kitchen. It works quite well for day to day use with kids and smaller meals. I’m now champing at the bit to recover the cushions in my own cobistyle indoor/outdoor fabrics that are launching next month. It will be a serious endurance test for the high-performance fabric.
In fact, our kitchen is one huge endurance test for all the materials and surfaces used there! The cabinetry is already in need of a new coat of paint and the floor could use some work too. I’ve decided to think of it like our dog: One time I took the dog for a checkup at the Vet’s and I apologized for his dirty paws and a few burrs in his coat and she replied, “don’t worry about it, it’s a sign of a happy, active dog!”. When I look at the dings and scratches on the cabinets and wipe off the spaghetti splashes I found on the ceiling the other day (!!) I’ll say to myself - “don’t worry about it, it’s a sign of a happy, active kitchen!”. Spoken like a true professional.
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 06, 2010 at 06:58 AM
This past weekend I hosted a simply smashing dinner party, dahling. I called it ‘Tartan & Pearls’ and it was a celebration of my husband, Bob (the birthday boy) and his hero, Winston Churchill (just because).
The UK theme worked beautifully for early Christmas…all the right colours but nothing overt…have a look.
I used blank note cards for the invitation. Tartan & Pearls set the theme for guests and gave them an idea of what to wear. One smart couple came with the woman in tartan and the man in pearls. Another friend came in full kilt and gag-tam with red hair sticking out. Add in a few tartan bow ties and top hats and there were lots of laughs all round.
For loot bags I gave out little bottles of cognac, black licorice cigars, ‘keep calm’ sniffs and Scottish shortbread.
I found plain white note cards at Walmart that worked well for simple tented place cards and inside each one I wrote a Churchill quote. Bob had fun choosing quotes from his many books and speeches and deciding who should say what. When we sat down, the guests were told to look at their quote and to stand at some point during the dinner and recite it while others would chime in “hear, hear!”. I thought some people might be a bit shy but that was definitely not a problem with this group - it sounded like the British House of Commons on a busy day!
Bob couldn’t help himself from putting together a Churchill trivia quiz. It was so easy and fun. The winner got a box of Walkers Shortbread of course!
English and Scotch mints filled dishes with wintry white…
And I got out a bit of Bob’s memorabilia and displayed it around for fun…
To get things started…Churchill’s favourite champagne: Pol Roger, seen here chilling in the porch in the afternoon.
We also had a selection of British beers which you can buy singly or in small packs. Who knew Tetley made beer?
For dinner, I couldn’t go as far as steak and kidney pies, but steak and vegetable did the trick. Served with peas of course! And a hearty salad.
After that we had a cheese course with English cheddar and Stilton and Carrs biscuits, then gingerbread cake, my homemade butterscotch sauce and cinnamon whip cream, yum!
Now the best part - the table - to get the theme going I bought a few yards of cotton tartan at the fabric store and cut it into two lengths so it ran from end to end. Then I pinking-sheared the remainder into napkins.
I have the perfect charger plates for this party, I bought them a number of years ago and they feature hunt scenes on each one. The white porcelain always looks great.
Down the middle of the table I stacked some of Bob’s Churchill book collection and used it for pedestals for votive candles and little crystal snowflakes my mom just gave me. It worked great and the red covers on many of the old books was perfect.
I regret I didn’t take a picture of the table just before we sat down when the candles were glowing - it was really pretty - but I was having too much fun!
There’s nothing better than the feeling you get the morning after a good party. It is most definitely our ‘finest hour’!
Posted by Cobi on Monday September 13, 2010 at 06:59 AM
My kitchen is featured in Chatelaine magazine this month - the October issue is on newsstands today.
It was fun to spend an afternoon ‘back in the biz’ with two talented people I worked with in the past - Virginie Martocq, Home Editor at Chatelaine and photographer, Michael Graydon. Here’s a picture of them hard at work, with Michael’s assistant, the lovely Valerie.
Of course, when they first asked me to be featured, all I could think about was the nicks and bumps on the cabinetry and the wear and tear on the floor (our kitchen isn’t new) but then I thought, ahh, those imperfections only show that we use it! And overall, we do still love it and spend part of every day in it - cooking, cleaning, talking, singing, laughing, spilling, fighting…. how could you not love that space?
Anyway, I know how much good photography can hide, and so we went for it .
Thanks Chatelaine! It was lots of fun.
Posted by Cobi on Monday July 12, 2010 at 07:00 AM
One of the easiest and best things we did when we decorated our cottage in PEI, was to frame a few maps of both the Provence and the city of Charlottetown.
It quickly created a couple of decorative vignette’s, but not only that, practical ones that can be used by ourselves and visitors to plan day trips and become more familiar with the island.
Local maps are an easy way to decorate your home - seasonal or otherwise.
We have a huge school map of Ontario hanging on the large stairwell wall in our home and often look to it to find places we’re discussing.
Here are some other pictures of maps used in homes:
They are a great way to anchor a vignette:
Or decorate a large blank wall. Especially when you can get up close to examine them.
Here’s a more decorative idea. Wallpapering in maps. New ones are very affordable…
and the colours are often nice…
This summer, get your directions right and hang a local map at the cottage. You’ll be on the road to success!
Posted by Cobi on Monday May 17, 2010 at 07:00 AM
Often people comment on the ceiling fixture over my kitchen table.
It’s a handmade (and signed) ceramic fixture from France. I purchased it a few years ago when we renovated our kitchen, along with two cream coloured wall sconces of a similar style.
I bought them from a wonderful french country retail and mail-order store in Niagara-on-the-lake, southern Ontario, however they’re no longer in business. Recently someone asked me to help her track down a similar fixture and I was able to find some online however, not in Canada.
What I love about the fixture is it’s unusual character. It has a lovely homey feel to it with the coloured, earthy ceramic but it’s also got a contemporary feel with the exposed weighted pulley system. It’s also quite practical in that it can be lowered at mealtime and raised up afterward. Enhanced even more when you put it on a dimmer, like all ceiling fixtures.
The only downside is cost. They are fairly expensive and of course shipping is a factor, but to be honest, if you are looking for one special fixture to really do something different in your home, I don’t find them outrageous. There are many lighting fixtures on the market today that cost more, even with shipping and duty added to one of these.
All three companies I found are based in the UK but sell fixtures made in France. They’re all set up to ship to North America however you will need a trained electrician to be sure the electrical fittings are correct for our homes. Here’s what I found….
Holloways of Ludlow sells both contemporary and period lighting fixtures along with many other types of hardware and fittings for homes. Their price is £185.00 (about $288.00 CAN).
They have a number of colours to choose from and offer a very cute smaller size as well for £144.40 (about $225.00 CAN).
The French House is an amazing site just to wander whether you’re shopping or not.
All kinds of gorgeous items from France - I wish they were in North America! Their lamp is £187.00 and comes in this lovely green or cream.
Marston & Langinger is a British supplier of home and garden items. Their fixture sells for £215.00 (about $335.00 CAN) and I contacted them to ask about shipping one ‘Rise & Fall light’ and they estimated it at $60.00 to Ontario (their service was amazing by the way, very personal). Of course there would be GST and duty too.
If anyone finds a source for these beautiful lamps in Canada please write a comment and tell us all. You never know when the next renovation might strike!
Posted by Cobi on Monday March 08, 2010 at 07:00 AM
One year Bob surprised me for my birthday with a long weekend in Paris.
It was only four days but we made the most of every second. I highly recommend it as a wonderful gift to anyone special - even yourself. Yes, it’s tiring physically, but mentally it’s the biggest jolt of energy you could ever get.
Anyway, I was going to tell you a story… On this trip we went to one of my favourite Saturday flea markets. It’s called, Marche aux puces de la porte de vanve . There are many antique markets in Paris, all called “Les Puces” - the fleas - and many are more fancy than this one, with beautiful linens and furnishings - but who am I kidding? I’m not going to buy an armoire or iron bed linens. I just want a few trinkets for my kitchen or my jewellery box or mantle to remind me of a wonderful trip. Anyway, if you like the thrill of the hunt - I suggest this one. Just take the subway to the Porte de Vanve (line 13) and follow the crowd. Try to go as early as possible on Saturday as they pack things up by mid afternoon.
Bob had also arranged for friends to meet us in Paris as a surprise, and good sports that they are, they agreed to come with us to the market. Given it was my birthday, and (traveling with Bob) we weren’t doing as much shopping as I would be doing if I was alone or with a female companion, I told myself that I was allowed to buy one thing worth a bit more than the usual fare. As we moved from stall to stall and I picked up odds and sods, I spied a framed painting in one booth that was full of paintings. For some reason it drew me in like none of the others.
I asked the gentleman how much it was and he told me. It was more than I wanted to spend, even with my special allowance. It was then I realized how lucky I was to have a friend with me who was raised in Montreal and had a much better grasp of the language…I asked her to find out if he was firm on his price. He said ‘oui’. I then asked her to offer him a lower price. She did and he said ‘non’. We left the booth and disappointedly I soldiered on to look for other hidden treasure. After a while I realized there wasn’t anything else as lovely as that painting and I had to go back and try again.
My dear friend agreed to help (like she had a choice) and we circled round and showed up again. Thankfully the painting was still there and I looked at it again. I was smitten. Again I tried to barter with the owner but my language was so poor, he didn’t understand, or let on he didn’t anyway. My friend came to the rescue and tried to work with him on my behalf but to no avail. He walked away and talked to other potential customers. To his chagrin, I just stayed there - trying to come up with another tactic. Little did I know, my tactic was working without even talking. I thought I would try him one more time - what did I have to lose? I showed him my wad of euros and said the number I would pay again. He turned his back on me and said something quickly to my friend. She looked at me and said “he’ll take it!”. I handed him my money, grabbed the painting and headed out of the booth before he changed his mind…”Merci! Merci!”….as we wove our way through the crowds to show our patiently waiting husbands, I asked my friend what he had said when he suddenly changed his mind? She laughed and said with a bit of embarrassment in her voice, “he said, ‘just get her out of my booth!’”. We laughed all the way out of Les Puces.
Here is my coveted painting….
I still love it. The artist’s name is Eugene de Sante and apparently he never really ‘made it’, although he did have a famous father or uncle who painted, someday I’ll research more…. It hangs happily in our main hallway and as I walk by it many days, I don’t give it a second thought. But sometimes I look at it and remember that special holiday and of course the lessons it taught me…
- If you’re traveling and see something you really love, buy it. You likely won’t have a second chance and things that we buy on holiday are often our most treasured possessions because of the stories behind them, and the memories they hold.
- Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to be a pain in the butt .
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 08, 2010 at 07:00 AM
This weekend coming up is an amazing time to throw a party. I can’t believe we’re not having one, but the family cottage beckons thanks to the long weekend.
If we were going to be home, I would definitely be doing a combined Chinese New Year/Valentine’s Party. Just think of all the decorating possibilities with that tomatoey Chinese New Year red clashing up against the pinky reds of Valentines. Yikes!!
Bob and I have a lot of fun planning dinner parties for friends - especially in the winter when life isn’t as busy. Last year we had a Valentine’s party since it was on a Saturday night. I just pulled out everything I own that’s red and/or pink to decorate the table and had lots of sinfully rich foods along with champagne and chocolate of course. We seated the women on one side of the table and the men on the other and had a lot of good laughs as Bob played Bob Eubanks and commandeered a personalized version of the “Oldie-wed game”.
I didn’t take pictures of the table or I would show them to you. I do remember, instead of place cards we put a pink lei on each chair for the ladies, and a red lei on each chair for the men - everyone likes to get lei-ed on Valentines!
A great place to get inspiration for a Valentine’s party is to rent the movie Julie & Julia. Meryl Streep/Julia Child throws a wonderful old fashioned Valentine’s dinner party - I love the idea of red roses and red felt hearts on everyone’s lapel - so classic and french!
Here are a few shots from a Chinese New Year party we threw the year before… I got right into it as you can see from the decorating. One guest asked me where I was going to keep all the stuff afterward, “in your Chinese room?”. I wish I had one! Right now it’s all in plastic boxes under our pool table. But I always find ways to reuse (you already saw my paper lanterns in use again last summer at an outdoor party).
I picked up Chinese newspapers when I went to Chinatown to buy the bbq duck we served, and lined the table with it. I also bought some cute plastic Chinese food containers and did little crocus’ down the table. I looked all over for colourful chopsticks but only found red and green - they worked fine with the colourful glazed bowls I bought and paper napkins and lanterns. Cheap and cheerful!
I found little ‘laughing buddas’ for each of the men and pretty paper fans for the women. Can you tell how much I love getting lost in Chinatown? I think sometimes the shopkeepers wonder who this strange 6’ redheaded lady is who keeps showing up.
I used fishing line to hang little paper lanterns between our ceiling lamps and from the curtain rods.
For decoration I bought extra oranges in Chinatown too. At this time of year they pack them with some leaves, which are so pretty in a simple glass pedestal.
I bought 12 restaurant style little plates for dessert (they were something like $1.00 each) and I already had the tea sets.
For dessert, I made an almond cake with an orange glaze - simple but at least it was homemade.
And did a second platter of traditional cookies, oranges and lychees.
We had a ball. I can only imagine how good it would be if we combined Bob Eubanks with my laughing buddas this year….maybe we should talk to the kids and re-think this whole cottage thing…
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 01, 2010 at 07:00 AM
It’s February 1st today and I’ve got mini marshmallows on my mind….
I own 3 hot chocolate makers, and to all of my loved ones who gave them to me - don’t worry - they ALL make me very happy!!
My kids love hot chocolate in the evening, but not only that, I like to serve it as dessert at dinner parties in the winter.
I actually find that many people don’t eat dessert any more, and we’ve all had the disappointment of working hard on a homemade dessert, to have only a few people eat it, and even the ones that do, say “just a sliver!”, which means there’s a great big ‘ol chocolate cake for ‘guess who’ to nibble on in the days to follow.
I also find that many people don’t drink coffee after dinner - or maybe that’s just a “getting old thing”. Whatever it is, I’m not big on going to the trouble of making things that don’t get eaten or drunk. Drank?
And so I have decided, the solution to all the world’s problems is Hot Chocolate!! (Or at least a few of mine )
Hot Chocolate brings back heartwarming memories to anyone who grew up in Canada. How can you skate on a river, build a snow fort after the plow goes by, or toboggan down an icy hill, without coming home to a warm, milky cup of hot cocoa?
To serve it to adults, I like to make it in a pot on the stove - it’s easy to have ready beforehand so all you have to do is warm it up when dinner is done. Then pour it into one or two of my lovely jugs to ‘froth’ at the table. A bowl of mini marshmallows to pass is a must, or even better, homemade ones! (I’ve never made marshmallows and would love to hear if anyone has, or has a good recipe.) I have tried homemade ones from Whole Foods and they are amazing and really add an ‘elegant’ touch to the table.
My bodum insulated cups are wonderful - simple, classic and really work - I like this size (although they come in many) because they have room for some foam and marshmallows on top.
Here are some leads on my 3 pots if you’re interested….the glass one is also made by Bodum and has a plunger built into the lid that swirls the cocoa.
The ceramic one is made by a company called Bonjour and comes with a battery powered frother that sits nicely on a plastic lid.
And the beautiful, more old fashioned looking one, with removable wood handle and manual frother is really made for the thick and rich chocolat chaud, served in every good restaurant in France….. My dearest friend got it for me from my favourite store in Montreal, Arthur Quentin.
And on that note, I thought I’d leave you with a recipe for the best Hot Chocolate in the world. (For the real thing, you have to jump on the next plane to Paris and tell the taxi driver to drive directly to Laduree. Heaven is closer than you think….)
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Ladurée
Serves 4 people.
Use any bittersweet chocolate but keep in mind that it should be one you love, since its flavor takes center stage.
3 cups whole milk
5 Tbsp. water
5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, and sugar. Place over medium heat and whisk occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. At this point, blend the mixture. If you have an immersion blender, you can do this directly in the saucepan; or if you have a fancy jug like mine, you can awe your guests at the table while you froth. Either way, blend for 1 minute on high speed - and take care, as hot liquids expand when blended. The finished mixture should be very smooth and frothy.
Serve tout de suite!
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 21, 2009 at 07:00 AM
As a working mom for so many years, I’ve trained myself that the only way I can entertain is to plan and prepare ahead of time. For any relatively organized, ‘type A’ overachiever, it’s the only way to go.
With that in mind…I get my dishes out the weekend ahead of any special dinner to figure out the table and make sure everything is clean and polished - I know, it all sounds very ‘Martha’ - but, like mom, she’s often right.
Here are a few ideas for setting a special holiday table.
I bought 12 of these chargers a few years ago when I was doing a special winter dinner party for Bob’s 40th. It was a splurge at the time but I knew on the spot that I loved them. So classic and they look great at any winter dinner party but especially Christmas. I love their size ~ they catch all the mess! - and the four hunt traditional scenes. I don’t know the pattern, they just say Royal Staffordshire on the back.
I don’t have enough white plates of my regular pattern (Wedgewood Coalport Countryware) and so rather than just have a few spares of another pattern, I alternate them half and half with some lovely square white plates I bought from the Brian Gluckstein Home collection at Home Outfitters. It looks good alternating in a stack and on the table - like I’m doing it for fun rather than necessity - love that.
In memory of my Grandmother, we always serve tomato juice at Christmas dinner. I remember everyone sprinkling it with pepper and drinking it at the beginning of our dinner when I was a kid. I don’t have little crystal cornflower glasses as she did, but I do have these heavy bottomed, stemless, wine glasses I bought somewhere along the line and they work well (plus go in the dishwasher!).
Speaking of my Grandmother, I couldn’t set the table and not use some of the dishes she left me. She knew how much I loved them. It’s ambitious to use them for the whole meal because I just can’t bear to put them in the dishwasher, but I always use them for one course and I encourage you to do the same - salad, dessert, soup - 10 or 12 smaller plates or bowls are a breeze to wash up and seeing them out on the table brings back warm memories of those we love. I use her double handled soup bowls for shrimp cocktail.
My daughter Charlotte loves helping me with place-cards. I bought these cute balls at a Hallmark store a few years ago and add a clipping of boxwood from the garden. In fact, little clippings of boxwood look great added to bows on gifts too. So easy and a nice touch.
?Now I have to run and polish the silver and 99 other things on the list….
Have a wonderful holiday and no matter how much you have to do, take a moment to sit by the tree and count your many blessings and all the things that are good in your life.
Posted by Cobi on Monday December 14, 2009 at 07:00 AM
My place is not a show house at Christmas time. I tend to go the sentimental route rather than ‘show stopper’. It’s not that I don’t want it to be beautiful, I’m just too darned attached to things from the past and their stories, for me to move on without them. I always threaten to not open my dusty old boxes one year and instead go for drama and stylish new glam, but it never happens. And to be honest, it likely never will.
Anyway, here are a few little tidbits from my house to yours that I thought might get the juices flowing if you’re a little dry on decorating at the moment. After all, it’s the little things that count at this overblown time of year….
Some ornaments are heavy for the tree and so I like to put them in my many (too many!) glass or creamware compotes.
I found adorable myrtle topiary at the Chinese flower store in Toronto and topped the soil with cranberries. So sweet.
I tie ribbons around the necks of most of my table lamps. Just a little trick but looks festive.
I also tie bits of ribbon around any of my favourite feathered friends. They seem to like looking festive too.
Here is our Santa collection to date…kids love it.
Over the last few years I’ve bought some over sized mercury balls. They just seem to fill in the blanks so easily.
I load my best silver tray in the middle of my dining table with all things sparkly glass and silver. The felt snowflake placemats are my favourite find this year and you’ll never guess where I found them ~ Wallyworld! (that’s Walmart for short) ~ who’d a guessed it?? Two for $6.00 I think.
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 23, 2009 at 07:00 AM
One of my most treasured possessions is framed cutouts of my kid’s silhouettes.
Every time I look at them and realize how much they’re growing I love them more.
I have a large set at the top of the stairs leading to their bedrooms….
And I have the same set but made smaller and put in oval frames in my powder room.
The gentleman who did them is a total pro - talented, easy to work with and fast. I highly recommend him.
He’ll ship them to you flat and I bet you can get them framed in time for the holidays.
Have a look at Karl’s website www.cutarts.com and you’ll see he’s been featured in almost every decor magazine in Canada and the U.S. along with Oprah and InStyle.
He also does pets beautifully….
It’s the perfect holiday gift for your house or someone you love, so get on it! You’ve only got a month!
There isn’t an interior style that silhouettes won’t work with or a person who won’t treasure them.
So personal and classic, Santa’s elves couldn’t do better!
Posted by Cobi on Monday November 16, 2009 at 07:00 AM
There’s nothing better than shopping in your own closet….
Rather than store your beautiful wraps and pashminas at the back of your closet, get them out at this time of year and drape them over furniture. Of course some colours will work better than others, but if you’re a sucker for accessories like me, you’ve got a few to choose from!
Pashminas cozy up any chair without being bulky and add rich colour to your room at the same time.
Here’s my dining room (I’m really not loving the chocolate brown anymore but it’s an expensive change) ~ it made me happy this weekend when I draped my chairs with my orange and red pashminas. I’ll save my turquoise and cream ones for the spring….
Here are a few more images I found to get your juices flowing…more orange….
If you don’t have a closet full of accessories but like the idea, affordable fake pashminas are all over the place. Last year I noticed Chapters was selling them and called them ‘reading shawls’ ~ a nice thought indeed on a cold winter’s eve.
If you want to indulge in the real thing, I know the place. Kumari’s in Toronto. She has every colour under the rainbow and such good quality…deeelicious…and now you have a second excuse - you’re decorating your room not just your shoulders!!
Posted by Cobi on Monday October 19, 2009 at 07:00 AM
Here’s a quick organizing trick.
I loooove jewellery but really struggle with storing it.
Bangles are especially bulky, and take up a lot of room in my little chest of drawers.
Here’s my latest solution: we all have glass vases floating around that we don’t need….
I feel like I just killed two birds with one stone because by doing this I managed to get rid of two vases off of my stuffed vase shelf at the same time ~ oh bliss!
Yes, I do have to empty out the vase if I want a bracelet at the bottom, but it isn’t a big deal. The best thing is that by being able to see them, I find I’m wearing them more. It’s the worst when you have great stuff and forget to wear it.
I bet there are more uses for glass vases if we put our minds to it….let me know if you use them for other things!
Posted by Cobi on Monday October 12, 2009 at 07:00 AM
I wanted to show you my dishes this week because they work so well for the Thanksgiving table, they always make me happy.
They’re called “Woodland” by Spode.
Each plate has a different duck or bird in the centre which makes them fun to collect and keeps my daughter Charlotte amused when setting the table . I think she’ll have memories of family dinners with them and since I plan to give them to her one day I think of them as ‘future heirlooms’.
There’s something about the brown transfer pattern and scene in the middle that’s elegant and earthy at the same time. They’ve been a joy to add to my other patterns and work so well with hearty fall and winter fare. It’s also great that they’re dishwasher and microwave proof.
Charlotte and I always collect leaves for place cards (just use permanent marker), impromptu coasters and general scattering about on tables and mantles. So pretty and easy to do while the turkey’s cooking.
Here’s a nice picture of some pieces in the Horchow mailorder catalogue in the states…
Spode is available at lots of independant china and dinnerware stores across Canada including Ashley’s in Toronto.
Anyway, must run and join the fun ~ Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Posted by Cobi on Monday October 05, 2009 at 10:24 AM
Sometimes we all feel like we have to advocate for something that we think is being overlooked or snubbed because of an old idea or incorrect perception. Today I am advocating for Electric Fireplaces.
Yup, it’s true, the old lightbulb and orange paper trick is something I think deserves more credit! No special wiring, no special venting, no different than buying a lamp, it’s quite a decorating find!
We put one into our screened in porch a couple of years ago. I am not going to suggest you do the same because they really aren’t meant for outdoors and can’t be guaranteed against the elements, but that’s not my point - I already have 2 working fireplaces inside our house but if I didn’t I would definitely consider one of these.
The point is, that I still marvel at how smart it is and how few people have them.
Here are the top 4 reasons why I love them:
Installation - like I said, it’s no different than buying a lamp. Seriously. All you need is a wall plug on the wall where you are placing it. If you have that, you simply go pick a style, it gets delivered, the guy plugs it in, pushes it against the wall and that’s it. Did you hear that ladies - no husband, brother or handyman needed!!
Profile - it’s very narrow. If you’ve tried to retrofit your home for a gas fireplace, you’ll know that there is a significant depth required for safety reasons and it can get complicated to set the box into the wall, etc. (read: construction, mess, expense). These suckers are only about 16” deep and don’t take up too much space in your room, yet have enough of a mantel to decorate (love that).
Look - There’s a large assortment of surround styles available, but what I was more concerned with was the look of the flame. No it’s not real but the new technology of using lights and mirrors is quite convincing! You would definitely think it’s real on first glance. Also, even though gas flames are real, I often find the logs to be fake looking and so really, what’s the difference - a fake fire is a fake fire.
Heat - it throws a nice amount of heat for a regular size room. Sometimes our gas fireplace will sweat us right out of our basement. This little guy doesn’t throw too much but just enough to be comfortable sitting near by. Of course, you can set the remote to ‘no heat’ and just have the look if you like.
Anyway, for the ease and cost (ours was about $2,000 for the unit, no labour cost) I think they are definitely worth considering if you are looking to cozy up a room and create a focal point.
If you want to check out the looks available, a few of the big brand names are Dimplex, Burley and Classic Flame. If you are in Ontario, I would also recommend going to the store we bought from, The Electric Fireplace Shop. Two women own the business and completely focus on electric (obvious by the name!) and really know their stuff.
Let me know if I’ve convinced you ~ or if you already agree!