The holidays are a time for reflection, for memories, for the warmth of family and friends. There are many holiday songs about hearth and home, cold days and warm fires that evoke the magic of the season. One of my favorite songs, written in 1944, is ‘Baby its cold outside”. A great counterpoint duet back and forth. I especially like the version by Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick from 1987. I also like the new version by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet. But, wait, how can we not forget Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell in ‘Elf’? It must be the sound of their voices echoing in the shower right…Right?
When its cold outside, a fire makes the room, sets the mood, settles the soul. We have a great little wood stove that was inserted into an old fireplace. It heats well, is EPA approved and provides lots of hours of warmth and serenity. But the surround and mantle didn’t make the grade and we have been looking at the beast for years.
The surround was flat-looking, plain, nothing of interest. And the mantle was too short. They consisted of a bunch of fir molding, quickly nailed to the wall and painted white. Not ridiculous but not in keeping with the room updates. So, this past weekend we undertook a project to update the surround to bring the fireplace to life just in time for the holidays. Now seriously, taking on any project, just days before hosting family for Thanksgiving, seems to be an idiotic undertaking. But this was to be a simple, quick update (he ensured to his wife). So why did I procrastinate the start of demo for hours?
Demo day was started late afternoon Friday and the project was completed, with 3 coats of paint, early on Monday. 2 ½ days so not too bad. But there were many intricate cuts and measuring twice if not 3 times to get the final fit correct. I first made 2 columns of 10″ wide by 54″ high by 2 1/2″ deep. These were wrapped in molding and mounted to the wall. The center was created from plywood and molding along with the side wall. The mantle was made from 1 ¼ ” thick pieces of Cherry and Fir which were routed with a crown-like molding cutter. Everything was glued and sealed and painted to match the other room molding.
Years ago, my Father loved to carve wood ducks, some which he sold at local arts and craft fairs. They were made from bass wood in different styles and painted in authentic colors. He also carved leaves and flowers that were paper-thin. Gorgeous work and one year, I asked him for a set of tree carvings for Christmas. He was glad to give these to me and I would bring them out as part of our seasonal décor. But I wanted a way to display them permanently. So, I mounted them on our new fireplace surround where they standout terrific and add a lot of texture to the project. And they give me a gentle reminder of my Dad and what he loved to do.
So what do you think of the final project? It kind of makes the room….
Here’s to warm nights and many fond memories…. “I really can’t stay…(But baby it’s cold outside)…I’ve got to go away,,,(But baby it’s cold outside)…This evening has been…(Been hoping that you’d drop in)…So very nice…(I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice.)…”