Friday, January 17

Friday's Why In Design column: With the winter chill hitting the east coast let's talk cozy fires and the stylish andiron

Choosing gorgeous andirons
can be a creative way to bring a little whimsy into your home. 
here is a lil' history about them for good measure.
 these owl andirons add character to this simple space
featured in Country Living magazine
for the right home, I like these quirky owl andirons from 
even West Elm is getting in on the owl andiron action
have you notice how owls are everywhere?  I started seeing them back in 2010 at London's Design Week, Decorex and they haven't lost their popularity in fabrics, accessories, jewelry, wallpaper, etc.
This pair of Hessian Soldier Andirons, American, circa 1880  are lovely from 1st Dibs
and they bring a sense of history and patina to a home, yet they're fun at the same time

There is a long history of using andirons in the home around the world
photo: circa 1794 Eyre Hall

Wikipedia -- 
An andiron (older form anderne; med. Lat. andena,anderia) is a horizontal iron bar upon which logs are laid for burning in an open fireplace. They are usually used in pairs to build up a firedog, sometimes called a dog or dog-iron, intended to hold logs above the hearth in order to improve air circulation for better burning. In older eras (e.g. 16th to 18th century AD) andirons were used as a rest for a roasting spit; and sometimes included a cup-shaped top to hold porridge.
check out my own fireplace and andirons
at our beach cottage in East Hampton -- 
the anchors work perfectly well.
Throughout history the andirons of a home were as important as the thermostat in today's modern home.  Which andirons you chose helped to regulate the temperature in the home during a time when residences were heated solely by fireplace.  Around the times of 800 BC they were made of clay and excavations in early Greece show them to have been very plain in design, moon shaped and possibly showing they were associated with early cult-like religious practices of worshiping nature.  Referred to as “Fire Dogs” they started to take on a bit more character in Europe later on when they were made of iron.  After the Italian renaissance when the household items were created by artisans and the guilds, the andiron was designed with elaborate detail.  In France under the Louis XIV regime they were designed of cast iron and flourished, showing great detail and showcased prominently in royal palaces.  There was a heavier emphasis placed on their usage as well, and they were adapted for spits and various forms of cooking and even with features to keep the food warm.

Now that winter has officially come in like a lion, and we've had record cold spells already in 2014, our fireplace is roaring on a regular basis.  Even Bridget (our Standard Poodle) likes to cozy up to the fire.  I have written about styling my mantel before and since fireplaces are often the focal point of a room and infamously placed in the center, let it shine.  Sometimes in the summer months I put large coral or flower arrangements or set white birch logs piled high in the well of the empty fireplace, but during winter we let the fire become the star.  I have been on the hunt for a stylish yet practical pair of andirons for a client this past fall so I came upon some stunners.

another pair of anchor andirons I adore
and for a  modern anchor design, these are lovely from 
John Lyle Design

A couple of points about the modern day andirons  -- while they may mostly be decorative they certainly keep the fire above the firebox and help to hold the logs inside fireplace.  It is best to keep the andirons as deeply set into the fireplace as possible. In our fireplace we have a box of tools next to the fireplace, andirons and a firescreen to keep sparks from escaping onto the rug or furniture. 
I stack plenty of white birch logs on 
my andirons for a pretty summer fireplace 
stunning glass spherical andirons by

I love these salvaged pieces as andirons!
A good pair of andirons are not just a pretty face, they need to hold up over time, the heat and last through many years.  But, they certainly spiff up an interior and give a fireplace some character, so it's one of my favorite items to shop surrounding the fireplace and mantel. I like to find quirky and unusual ones.  All these andirons I feature today I pinned in
 my andiron board
so please check it out for sourcing.  

Happy Nesting
XO Tamara