Think of winter and images of snow, hearty meals and firesides are likely to be conjured forthwith to your mind. Firesides used to be the focal point of many a room in days gone by; however on the whole they appear to have been overtaken by that grey or silver plastic box – the television. Regain a sense of tradition this winter by making a feature of your fireplace and enjoying periods of relaxation and reflection by the fireside.

Chairs are an essential fireside item and at least one good chair should be placed in front of it so that one may absorb its luxurious heat and truly bask in its glow.

 Groucho High-Back Aged Leather Wing Chair
A high wing-backed chair like this is perfect for solitary seating, providing great back support for reading as well as a cosy, enclosed sense created by the chairs ‘wings’. This example is an alternative to the traditional wing-back chair as, although it is very traditional in its design basis, it suggests a modernist/contemporary influence due to its angular geometry. Finished in sumptuous aged leather this chair exudes comfort and implores you to find a book and indulge in a period of relaxation.

When combined with the throw below one may truly lounge in the comforting and cosy feeling of being inside when outside is bitterly cold.


Antique-Style Paisley Wool Throw

This thick woollen example features a traditional paisley pattern, the rich reds of which contribute to a winter color palette and creates a warming addition to your living room’s décor.


Radnor Bay Wood Bedside Table

The side table is an essential addition to any reading corner or fireside, as it offers modest yet attractive storage for the variety of items that accrue about a reading chair. This piece features a sizeable shelf for storing papers and books and a small drawer for sundries such as matches, reading glasses and the seasonal sweet-treats that seem to arrive in abundance at this time of year. It also possesses a sizeable table-top for tea cups, light snacks and other accoutrements such as a reading lamp. Inspired by timeless eighteenth-century French design, this side table is finished in a deep Bay wood finish – the deep browns of which complement the warmer browns and reds of the aforementioned chair and throw.

 Classic Stork Bedside Lamp
Brass is the perfect material for the winter months, as its warm golden hue appears to absorb and store any light that hits it, emitting a warm sheen as bright as the bulb itself. This slender piece harks back to the functional gas lighting and its associated pipework of the Victorian era, all the while remaining modest enough in design to co-exist with items of a more modern nature. This lamp would sit perfectly on the side table mentioned previously, and its above average height allows for an optimum light level to be achieved for the avid reader, all the while contributing to the variation of a room’s lighting level through differing height and brightness.

Wrought Iron Scrolling Flourish Fireguard

This impressive wrought iron fireguard continues the traditional air and adds weight to the fireplace as a focal point. A fireguard of this size also adds almost complete protection from the spits and sparks that some varieties of firewood entail, protecting your hearthside rugs or carpeting. Decorative items may be placed on either side of this piece to really develop the hearthside as a feature and allow it to thrive as the room’s focal point.

Making a feature of your mantelpiece.

To increase the presence of your fireplace as a focal point, it is important to add items that compliment your room’s décor and add interest to the fireplace as a feature. Traditionally, a large mirror or painting was reserved for the chimney breast above the mantle, although a tapestry may serve just as well if it is in keeping with your room’s theme. Clocks also hold a pride of place on the mantle, and have done for a substantial period of time. When a clock or other item, such as a vase, is the central item on the mantle top then its presence may be accentuated by the symmetrical placement of other items. Using objects of differing heights also creates an interesting feature of the mantle. Tall candlesticks, small ornaments and flower arrangements encourage a viewer’s eye to move around the space of the mantle in much the same way that a viewer’s eye moves around the elements of a painting in order to absorb it as a whole. The key to attractively decorating your mantelpiece is to use objects cumulatively instead of, for example, having one very large vase that overpowers the visual space of the mantle.

This oriental inspired wooden clock is the perfect centrepiece for a fireplace’s mantle. Its ornate detailing implies a sumptuous decadence and the far eastern influence suggests a thoughtfully sourced item of exotic origin. It is small enough not to dominate the space visually but holds enough intricate whimsy to be of an aesthetic and functional value. The key to attractively decorating your mantelpiece is to use objects cumulatively instead of, for example, having one very large vase that overpowers the visual space of the mantle.

 Scallop Shell Bookends
These pieces are intended to be dark metal bookends, although they are very effective as decorative objects for the mantel-top. They could be placed flush against the chimney breast at either end of the mantle, serving as a sort of ‘visual brackets’. The space created in between these ‘brackets’ then becomes a prime area for statement piece, gracefully reinforced by the scallop shaped border on either side.

Iznik Lidded Jar
Such statements could with items such as the aforementioned clock or pieces such as this lidded jar with Turkish motif. Inspired by the Iznik pottery of the seventeenth century, the jar’s character and reasonably large size makes it a perfect statement object. Whilst it is inspired by a Turkish design, this piece is also reminiscent of early nineteenth century British reproduction-ware and would be effective in traditional décors of all varieties.

With the addition of a few strategically sourced and placed items, such as the ones I have suggested, one may create a cosy atmosphere around the fireside. Gathering around a warm hearth encourages socialisation and more creative uses for free time and detracts from spending hours staring at a screen. Make this winter a season to remember by making time to talk, read, or paint – whatever your passion is – and enjoy a nook dedicated to relaxation.

Article by: 
Matt Chappell writes on behalf of OKA Direct. He enjoys writing about interior design ideas, room optimisation and traditional décors.

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