Fireside Beauties in Time for January!


I don’t know about you, but January feels like the l.o.n.g.e.s.t  month of the year in my view. Yes, I know, it’s not.

Can you believe mathematically March, May, July, August, October and December are just as long? January just seems to drag on and on here in New England. it’s cold. The trees are bare and stand like spooky shadows in the night. The sidewalks are treacherous, covered in grey slippery patches.

The good things, that make January bearable (because I have to find something positive in all things) are:

-fresh snow

-cross country skiing

-Being in my bed

-A warm meal and intense winter cooking (Boeuf Bourgignon, anyone?)

-Sitting next to a roaring fire

And that brings me to today’s post topic: FIREPLACES!!

I love them and truly could not live without them. Wood fires add joy and color with pops of yellow and crackling sounds. Gas fireplace designs are becoming more and more attractive and look great in more modern interiors.

They bring people together, encouraging intimate conversations with glasses of wine or hot cocoa cups, legs up on ottomans and bundled under fuzzy throws.

Here is a selection of a few fireside beauties for you to enjoy:

Concrete fireplace detail - simple color scheme.

I find this clean, rustic and sophisticated fireplace from Architectural Digest (unfortunately, I cannot locate the designer) arresting. The concrete mantel and what appears to be aged iron surround is unusual and gorgeously designed.

This Greenwich 19th century townhouse decorated by Christine Markatos and published in Architectural Digest is a stunner. Cozy, soothing and so inviting! The classic wood painted mantel has been preserved.

The gas fireplace nestled in a luminous family room style space via California Home Design is begging for company! The horizontal wood panels on the fireplace column create a wonderful focal point.

This is probably on of my favorite rooms of all times. Actress Meg Ryan’s home photographed for ELLE DECOR and decorated by Marsha Russell of Satinwood. The wrought iron grid fireplace cover juxtaposed with a slab of grey stone acting as a visual mantel shelf is simply brilliant and so clean! Note how the seating conveys warmth and invites one to sit by the fireplace.

What could have become a dark, overly rustic room is lightened up by white and organic textures, setting all eyes on this stone fireplace. Design by Michael Angus. After skiing this morning, I recommend meeting for a cup of hot chocolate right here!

This metal surround has shifting tones which almost look like brushstrokes: I love the visual interest they add to the fireplace. Note how the dark charcoal color is echoed with the seating. Via House Beautiful, designed by Erin Martin and Kim Dempster.

Colette van den Thillart's London home is a reflection of her signature style: edgy, witty and utterly fearless.

Colette van den Thillart’s London home is a reflection of her signature style: edgy, witty and utterly fearless. The classic fireplace is contrasted with fabulous pops of green and teal, via pattern and solids. Tea, anyone? via House and Home.

Enjoy, my friends! And do let me know your thoughts! Which of these fireplaces strikes your fancy?

A bientôt!!!




Aha Moment ?!!!

While at Blogfest, we were encouraged by House Beautiful editors to write about what inspires us, what might have been the moment in our life that prompted us to choose this profession, or what “AHA moments” we encounter in our daily work.

I have to say Aha Moments abound in my life. Like the time I realized very early on I was happiest creating and working with COLOR.

A little French girl growing up in Washington DC, bound to the rigid system of the French School I attended, I quickly found the freedom and joy of color in illustrations I created inside my French “cahiers” (notebooks) :

Illustration in my “cahier” at the French School.

Later as a brooding teenager, I perfected my craft to include realistic illustrations of other brooding creators (here Baudelaire, as a child):

Illustration of Baudelaire, enfant, by Barbara Elza Hirsch

I fancied myself a talented designer in the making: my goal was to be a fashion designer. From age 10 on, I had developed a mad crush on FABRIC and spent my time making little outfits for my barbies, or inventing little bags and decorative boxes out of Marimekko fabrics.

A vestige of my passion for fabric and creating (note the little ruby stone patiently sewn on to the bustier):

After high school, I moved to Paris and went to Art School, and later, to Studio Berçot, one of the top Fashion Design Programs. I madly scribbled and created designs for diverse collections:

Fashion Illustration by Barbara Elza Hirsch
Sweater line created by Barbara Elza Hirsch back in the 80’s.
Little summer bags created by Barbara Elza Hirsch while a student at Studio Bercot.

Alas, my career as fashion designer was never to be. I HATED the fashion world! If you’ve ever seen The devil Wears Prada, you know what I am referring to.

Little did I know that somewhere deep inside, was an interior designer in the making. Years later, as a wife and mother still enamored by COLOR and passionate about DESIGN, I found my true calling : Interior Design!

Interior designers were a friendlier bunch, and the freedom I encountered in creating designs was thrilling. Aha! I thought! It’s all coming together:

My love of fabric:

Windsor Smith fabric for Kravet on wing chair with contrasting piping. Custom creation by Elza B. Design, Inc.

My love of color:

A color scheme on a current Elza B. Design project. Inspired by a beautiful painting my client owns.

And just the joy of seeing it all come together:

Living Room created by Elza B. Design, Inc

But, wait! Look at what I just found in my childhood notebooks:

“Life is a Big Room” by Barbara Hirsch, done as a child.

Aha! I should have known :-) There was a room in me after all.