If you swing your eyes back up to the title there, what’s your first response? No doubt, some will think that a fireplace is the focal point and heart of a living room. Others will think there’s no need, there’s a million(ish) more alternatives, and that they’re just plain unnecessary and/or unattractive.
I was in the first group. Our house currently has a fireplace. A chimney breast, a gas fire (albeit a slightly outdated one) and a rather ugly, definitely outdated fire surround. When we first started making plans for the living room, we discussed replacing the fire, the possibility (or not) of a log burner, or at least a log burner effect heater, the work and cost involved. We decided, or so I thought, to keep the fire and replace the fire surround. Build in some cupboards and shelves either side and boom! A focal point, that “centre” of the living room in our crazy large four quarters of one room lounge area.
And then at the weekend my partner decided it wasn’t worthwhile and that we’d be better off losing the fire, the whole chimney breast, and having a plain, in his words “versatile” blank wall.
Say what now?!
This wasn’t what I had in my mind. At first, I literally felt like there was no purpose to the whole room without that fireplace. Even if we don’t use the fire. Which seems fairly obvious now I think about. I do like the look, much prefer in fact, of a room with a grand, or even somewhat simple, fireplace. Sofas and a coffee table around it. The fire doesn’t have to be on to still give the room a cozy look. To me it made sense. I didn’t want to think about versatility. Sure, placing the four sections of our lounge life (Sofas, Dining Table, TV Area and Gym) into the four corners was limited by the fact that there was a fireplace in one quarter didn’t matter. To me, it said ‘that’s where your sofas or TV section go’. It made things more obvious and quicker and easier for me to imagine. Versatility wasn’t an issue – I wanted to come up with the best plan and stick to it. Not wonder if we’d get bored and want to move everything around in a couple of years times.
What’s more, all the inspiration I’d seen, involved cozy fireplaces. I’m not into modern, contemporary sleek city living. I like a home. A cozy, lived in, clean and bright still, but homlier look than those chic apartment get ups. I couldn’t imagine how a living room without a fireplace could look anything other than uber modern. Crazy, I know. But my dear fiance couldn’t show me either. We struggled to find images and inspiration without that central focal point, and I struggled even more with the fact that he struggles to understand the importance of the ‘focal point’. He’s a practical man.
As we also having central heating, we don’t use the fire, and therefore we don’t need the fireplace. Spending time and money on creating this was something he was skeptical about considering neither us did really like the appearance of the existing fire, and that replacing that on top the cost of everything else, when we still wouldn’t really use it, was just ridiculous.
So, I scoured Pinterest for a couple of hours (yes, solidly) and tried to envisage the style I like without the fireplace, and how we’d have artwork to create a focal point, and shelves on another wall to replace the ones lost by not having built in space either side of the chimney breast. I’m more than halfway to getting my head around it and coming up with fresh ideas.
It’s been a bit of a journey, and a near-missed argument, to get there, though. I was just so clear in my mind of what I wanted, it was totally irrespective of what we actually needed and used, and ultimately, the most homely home feel will come from a lounge area that actually suits our life. And, now I’m feeling less stubborn, I’m starting to put together a coherent image of a largely similar room to what I first imagined that doesn’t stray into that urban city image that isn’t my personal preference.
We’ll get there in the end!
When we do, and hopefully a little before then, I’ll update you with some pictures of our actual living room, but for now, here’s a couple of Pinterest links that are really helping me get an idea together for our own front room.
For now, with love,