It might not be home to a roaring blaze, but a non-functioning fireplace can still warm up your living space this fall.
Instead of matches and kindling, decorators suggest using natural elements, warm colors and a little bit of creativity.
Re-imagine the firebox as a place to highlight fresh, dried or silk arrangements, suggested David Siders, co-owner of Experience and Creative Design in Schenectady.
“If you’re entertaining, bank fresh mum plants in the firebox,” he advised.
The arrangement must be a very temporary one though, since live mums need light to stay vibrant.
A bouquet of fresh tree branches ablaze with autumn-colored leaves makes another interesting short-term decoration. Place them in a container of water and create an arrangement inside the fireplace, Siders suggested.
For a look that will last the whole season, hide a yellow or orange-colored light in a stack of logs arranged in the firebox, suggested Audrey Gutheil, president of Spa Decorating in Ballston Spa.
Candles, clustered in groups, can also add pretty, flickering light to the firebox, Siders noted.
The hearth offers decorating opportunities too. Galvanized pails, masonry jars or stone pottery filled with cattails, foliage and other fall-themed decorations can add interest there, Siders said.
On the mantle, a glass vase or bowl filled with acorns, bittersweet, branches, lemons and pinecones can make an attractive centerpiece, or for a different look, the vessel could be filled with pumpkins, berries, gourds and Indian corn, Gutheil said.
“Pinecones give some texture and they can be surrounded by small white lights hidden in a basket for ambiance,” she pointed out.
Make decorating a family affair by going out together to hunt for colorful fall leaves to adorn the mantle. Leaves can be pressed to preserve their appearance or allowed to dry naturally.
Whole branches, with red, gold and orange leaves still attached, can also be draped across the mantle.
“You’ve got to be careful if you do low candles, because of the dryness of the leaves,” Siders cautioned.
After apple-picking, line up seven or eight red apples across the mantle for a sweet, simple look, Gutheil suggested.
Gourds, miniature pumpkins and squash — classic symbols of fall — are traditional mantle focal points. Once they’re arranged, for a different twist, add sheaves of wheat or mullet.
“There’s lots of roadside and ornamental grasses that can also be laid in bundles, tied with a ribbon or cording,” Siders said, noting that dusty miller, which grows in many local gardens, also dries beautifully.
Ambitious decorators could paint the fireplace wall in a warm accent color like peanut butter or caramel to make the area stand out, Gutheil said.
Once the wall’s dry, a wreath of fall foliage would brighten it even more.