There’s nothing like the scent of a wood fire
There is a guest test that separates the townies from the country hardy: lighting a fire. The firelighters left beside the fireplace are a trap. Open the packet and everyone knows you are no Bear Grylls. We call it a “Showman’s Fire”. It roars for the life of the firelighter – all showy, no substance. Minutes later you can still read the text on the unburnt paper lying around the fringes of the doomed attempt. The only thing burning when your host returns from the kitchen are your cheeks.
Firelighters are a red herring. Their mere presence is an invitation not to use them. A serious fire architect won’t require them and will set about creating a layered, airy pyramid to show off their prowess, knowing that it is all about air flow. Everyone knows the FT burns better than other newspaper too, right? It’s the pink pigment in the dye. Fire lighters combined with some effort to construct a decent fire are perfectly acceptable.
We love a generous, fabulous, roaring fire. Flickering flames like a beckoning hand saying come, sit for a while. Come autumn, it is the focus of the house in any entertaining opportunity. The smell of wood burning as you near the end of a weekend walk, with the leaves on the trees turning colour and starting to fall, makes you crave a glass of wine with friends in front of a fire before a late Sunday roast lunch.
The inspiration for our Winter Room came from a hunting lodge run as a Relais Chateaux Hotel in rural France. Green walls and an over sized stone fireplace with beautiful proportions. A real estate brochure featuring a brave pea green sitting room inspired me to up the ante on the shade of paint, despite the horrified faces of anyone who saw the swatches painted on the previously cream walls. We found a beautiful Chesney’s fireplace that fitted the proportions, the perfect Games of Thrones fire basket from Drummonds and a fireguard from an antiques shop in Provence.
The main drawing room, created on a small budget by the talented Diana Sieff, has a more elegantly proportioned marble fireplace from Chesney’s and a more formal atmosphere suited to pre dinner G&Ts.
But if you don’t have a fire, all is not lost. Our builder made a surround out of new wood and moved an old insert used to block up an old fireplace from another room to create the “fire” beside the Albion bathtub in the master bathroom. It is decorative, rather than a working fireplace, but it is a pretty focal point and elegant shelf.
Want an aromatic atmosphere but have no fireplace? We recommend True Grace’s Library candle £28, or if you want to spend a little more, head to Cire Trudon and check out the Ernesto. The description is pretty sexy. In fact I think the author of the description could take on Jilly Cooper: “a cool and masculine scent, fierce overtones of leather and tobacco meddle with resolution the waxy silence of wood. This fragrance is inspired by breaking out of the cool dimness; sly grimaces emerge, framed by the smoke of cigars and the barrels of guns.” Fifty Shades of Ernesto anyone?
Mid price range is Diptique’s Feu De Bois at £40, a heavenly gift for a host or a city living room on a late autumnal day.
The Glebe House, and all its fireplaces, is available for rent this New Year’s Eve, From Dec 27 2015 –Jan 03, 2016