Almost every night around 6, from mid-October until mid-March, my mother would start a fire in the fireplace in our den. As children, we’d grumble when she asked my siblings and me to bring in some logs.
The grumbling, of course, didn’t last once the fire was lit. Living in the chilly Midwest, we cherished the flickering warmth that the daily ritual provided.
That time of day was special.
According to the Virginia-based Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association and the Washington, DC-based National Association of Home Builders, fireplaces rank second among the top features desired by buyers of new homes.
And there’s no better time than Valentine’s Day evening to ignite the night, whether fireside or with the flicker and glow of candles. Firelight and romance go hand in hand, don't you think?
Unique candles and fireplace accessories abound in Metro Detroit. Here are a few of my favorites, along with some fire-building tips:
• HEAVEN SCENT — Adorn your home with Michigan-made candles that emit natural outdoor scents. Hand-poured candles from Zeeland-based Lakeshore Candle Co. (products available at home-décor shop in Berkley, the in Brighton and the Live Well Shop in the , among others) are made of soy. Lakeshore’s candle names are so Great Lakes State! Dune Grass, Cottage, Beach Bum, Flip Flop. “Our candles burn clean, edge to edge, and liquefy beautifully,” said Diane Richards, Lakeshore sales manager. “We make our own wicks of paper and cotton with no mystery materials.”
• TWO WOMEN AND A WICK — Try the exquisite soy candles handmade at in Ferndale. Scents range from pine to cherry.
• OOH LA LA — From jumbo three-wick candles in a box to two-wick candles in decorative ceramics, Seda France candles are at once absolutely luxurious and great smelling. I found some at and in Birmingham.
• BOYSCOUTS 101 — My friend Tanya Chisholm of Troy was researching fire-building tips recently and discovered that in about five minutes, you can build a proper fire. Steve Brown, owner of in Ferndale, told her to start with dry firewood and never use lumber, which may be treated with chemicals. Use bunched-up newspaper or kindling (dried branches and twigs) to ignite the wood.
• ARTFUL LOGS — Yes, they’re just limbs and branches from a tree, but logs become artistic when you study the wood detail, texture and the color … all elements that should be displayed as such. Great log holders that showcase logs are available at
• CANDLE CAN-DO — Be selective about what you light. The green lotus candleholder and candles from (Somerset Collection, Troy) not only cast a lovely glow, they also give off a relaxing, non-overpowering scent.
• GLOBAL IDEAS — Detroit-based doodlehome.com, an e-commerce company that specializes in interior design, showcases some wonderful fireplaces, contemporary and traditional, along with some artistic adornments that would make any mantel proud. I recently posted a blog for the site that features fireplaces of many styles.