Hurricane Fireplace Tips

Hurricane Fireplace Tips

When a hurricane is headed your way, here are three hurricane fireplace, damper and chimney tips for the safety of your home and family:

Hurricane Fireplace Tip #1: Shut the fireplace damper.

Hurricanes bring not only high wind but also astonishing amounts of rain. As you prepare your home for an approaching hurricane, you shut the doors and windows (or even board them up) to prevent rain from entering your home. Likewise, you should shut the fireplace damper to keep rain out of the house.

The flue in your chimney provides a direct access from the firebox (the spot where logs burn in your fireplace) inside your house up and to the outside. When you have a fire going in your fireplace, that flue allows the smoke from  your fire to evacuate up the flue to the outside. But when there are torrential rains, water can come down your flue and into the firebox.

There are three main ways to keep rain out of your fireplace:

  • Have a chimney cap. They provide a “roof” over the hole at the top of the flue. They keep most rain out, but often not all the wind-driven, torrential rain associated with hurricanes.

    A chimney cap prevents most rain from entering your chimney and fireplace.

    A chimney cap prevents most rain from entering your chimney and fireplace.

  • Have a top-mount damper, and shut it. These dampers fit on the very top of the flue. When closed, they seal shut with a gasket, much like your refrigerator door’s gasket. A chain with a handle at the end runs down the flue and is accessible from inside your home. By pulling on the chain handle, you can open the top-mount damper to have a fire in your fireplace and close it at other times. Of course, you will certainly want to close your top-mount damper during hurricane weather!

    top-mount fireplace damper

    Top Sealing Lyemance Damper without Chimney Cap

  • If you do not have a top-mount damper at the top of your chimney’s flue, you most likely have a fireplace throat damper. These are metal plates just above your firebox. A damper handle opens and adjusts the damper for fire-burning and closes it at other times. Close your fireplace throat damper as you prepare for the hurricane. See How to Open and Close a Damper.

    Throat damper: framework and valve plate

    Throat damper: framework and valve plate

Hurricane Fireplace Tip #2: If a hurricane leaves you without electrical power, you can use your fireplace for cooking and heating.

Heating is usually not a problem during hurricane season, but breakfast bars, room-temperature canned beans, and bottled water satisfy the appetite only so long. If you need a hot meal, be prepared to cook in your fireplace. If food from your freezer is thawing, turning it into a stew can save it and nourish body and soul. Here, for example, are directions for cooking a chicken in the fireplace. Popping popcorn in the fireplace can entertain young and old alike when living screen-time free without electricity.

If you are without hot water in the wake of a hurricane, you can use your fireplace to heat water for washing up, washing dishes, and even hand-washing clothes.

Of course, you will need to open the fireplace damper if you are using your fireplace for cooking. Therefore, we suggest fireplace cooking for only after the rains have passed.

Hurricane Fireplace Tip #3: After the hurricane, check to make sure your chimney cap survived.

A well-secured chimney cap can make it through fairly strong winds (see How to Install a Chimney Cap), but not always through hurricane force winds. After a hurricane, check to see that your chimney cap has survived the hurricane and is still securely attached.

If  you fireplace or chimney has sustained any damage whatsoever, have it inspected by a building inspector or a certified chimney professional before using it.


These before, during and after Hurricane Fireplace Tips will prevent rainwater from entering your home through the flue, provide you with alternative heating and cooking tips when the utilities are out, and help you access post-hurricane chimney cap, chimney and fireplace damage.

Posted in Safety, Using Your Fireplace Tagged with: ,

Fall Mantel Decorating Elements

fall mantel decorating

Here are tips on how how to make fall mantel decorating quick and easy by combining one, some or all of these readily available autumn elements. On your next trip to the supermarket, farmers’ market, or to an open space with oak trees, you can quickly gather the makings for dramatic but easy elements for fall mantel decorating. Whether you decorate the fireplace mantel just once with plans for it to last until winter or you decorate for fall and tweak the mantel for Halloween and for Thanksgiving, these fall mantel decorating elements will serve your fireplace well.

Tips for Fall Mantel Decorating Elements


Pumpkins are a great element for decorating a fall mantel, and they are no longer limited to just orange.  You can easily find a variety of pumpkins in all the autumnal shades of green, cream, yellow, gold, and white. And think beyond the traditional round jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, too. Be open to the many shapes, including delightfully bumpy skinned ones and squatty ones, that are available for fall mantel decorating. Want reusable pumpkins? Some artificial decorative pumpkins and ceramic pumpkins look super realistic.

Pumpkins for Fall Mantel Decorating

Because they are so intrinsically visually interesting, it is super simple to arrange a variety of pumpkins on your mantel for a fall theme: Stack them, group them, scatter them, place them on wide candle holders. Tuck some silk autumn leaves, some dried babies’ breath, or some bittersweet branches among them, and your fireplace mantel has been decorated for fall!


Croton Plants

Croton plants are another ideal element for fall mantel decorating. Crotons are evergreens and can be grown as shrubs in warm climates or as houseplants anywhere. They capture the autumnal colors of bronzes, oranges, greens, golds, yellows, Chinese reds and oh so many other fall colors. Commonly available anywhere plants are sold, crotons are naturals for use on a fireplace mantel decorated for fall. Simply place one or more potted croton plants in a pot that will fit on your mantel. Ideally the pot will be in an autumn-inspired color or in brass.

crotons for fall mantel decorating

Hollow resin pumpkins and ceramic pumpkin planters are elements into which small potted croton plants can adorably fit! Consider adding croton plants on your heath, too, to complete the fall look and balance the design.

Pumpkin Planters for Fall Mantel Decorating



If you don’t care for the colorful crotons or can’t find them,  chrysanthemums, live or silk, are standard fall mantel decorating elements. Their range of autumn colors are also sure to include hues that are not only fall-flavored but also compatible with your color scheme in the room with the fireplace mantel. Place them in a basket. Or add a few silk leaves in fall colors around the base of the chrysanthemum pots, and you have a quick and easy way to decorate a fireplace for fall.

chrysanthemums for fall mantel decorating


Fall’s Nature in Glassware

Fill one or more glass bowls, pieces of stemware or canning jars with glass lids with a collection of small bits of nature associated with autumn. Consider miniature pumpkins, acorns of various sizes, and natural or silk autumn leaves.  For a casual look, sprinkle some acorns or autumn leaves around the base of the glassware.

Fall Nature in Glassware

Filling glassware with fall’s natural elements is so simple, the children can help decorate your fireplace mantel for autumn!

Autumnal Ribbons

You can often find lovely ribbons in fall tones at this time of year to add to your fireplace mantel. Look for gingham plaids and wired ribbons in fall browns, golds, and yellows. Ribbons are easy ways to quickly dress up ordinary pumpkins and gourds for fall mantel decorating. Just tie these ribbons around the middle or one or more pumpkins. Or tie the ribbons around pumpkins gift-wrap-wise with a bow on top. Let the bows’ streamers casually curl onto the mantel or even hang a bit over the edge of the mantel.

Autumn ribbons for fall mantel decorating

Want to spend a couple of moments more for extra charm? If so, use a glue gun to attach acorns to the ends of the ribbons!

Fall Candles

Candles are a classic element of fireplace mantel decorating. To get the autumn look, go for fall colored flameless or real candles.

candles as elements of fall mantel decorating


Involve the sense of smell by using pumpkin, pumpkin spice, apple pumpkin, autumn leaf and other autumn-scented candles on the mantel.

Fireplace Candelabra Dressed for Fall

If you are not using your gas or wood burning fireplace, do not let that empty black hole below your lovely fall-decorated mantel distract from the beauty of your hearth. A fireplace candelabra sits inside your fireplace. Lit candles create all the charm of a burning fireplace without the logs or ashes! Plus, with just a change of color of the candles you use, you can easily establish the seasonal look you want.

Fireplace candelabra with orange candles

Give your fireplace candelabra an autumn update by replacing plain white candles with candles in fall colors. Or better yet, use pumpkin shaped candles to capture the spirit and colors of the season link in the Spandrels Fireplace Candelabra below.

Fireplace Candelabra with pumpkin candles



Mix and match these fall mantel decorating elements to create the quick and easy fall mantel of your dreams.



Posted in Decorating, Holidays Tagged with: ,

Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Decor

thrifty above fireplace ideas

While there are countless ways to decorate the wall above the fireplace, inexpensive fireplace wall decorating ideas can be difficult to find. To keep your fireplace focal point worthy, here are ways to decorate above your fireplace that won’t break the bank, but will look like you did! For $25 or less, be inspired by these thrifty above fireplace ideas.

#1 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Wallpaper

A single roll of wallpaper covers 28 square feet, so shop the leftover rolls in you local wallpaper shop. Sometimes a single roll of really high end wallpaper can be grabbed up at an awesome price. Even not on sale, Peel and stick wallpaper rolls start under $20.00. Paper only above the mantel to the ceiling. If the fireplace is on a portion of wall that extends into the room, wallpaper just that portion. Cost: $20

wallpaper the fireplace portion of the wall

See for instructions on wallpapering the fireplace wall.

inexpensive fireplace wall decorating with wall paper

This wallpaper accents the black, white and gray theme. Also from

#2 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Wood Circles

Take a compound miter saw to the firewood logs you have on hand, and you have an inexpensive fireplace wall display for just your time investment. You have the option of covering the fireplace wall in the wood circles or creating an over the mantel display. Your expenses are limited to Gorilla Glue and paint (and an underboard if you are making display board.) Cost: Free to $20


Wood Circles as inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea

See instructions on how to make this rustic fireplace circle wall from .

Thrifty Above Fireplace Decor - Wood Circles over Fireplace’s instructions include how to darken some of the wood circles by baking them.

#3 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Door Mats Turned Art

Who would guess you could turn one or more rubber door mats into thrifty above fireplace decor with the help of a can of spray paint? No one but you will know they aren’t vintage iron scroll panels. Leave them unpainted for a black ironwork look or spray paint them to contrast with the wall above the fireplace mantel. For under $20, they come in a variety of visually interesting shapes. Cost: $25 or less

Rubber Door Mat Art above the fireplace, a great source of inspiration for budget friendly decorating ideas, provides instructions.


Shapes of rubber door mats

Rubber scroll door mats come in a variety of shapes and make inexpensive fireplace wall decorations.



#4 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Framed Collection

If you own a collection of items such as seashells, consider using them to create a 3D wall display. If you don’t have a collection, shop flea markets and thrift stores for items such as bird houses, plates, old keys, compasses, magnifying glasses, quilt squares, old ice skates, or vintage cameras. To make the collection visually cohesive, use matching, inexpensive frames around each item in the display. Want to skip even the price of frames? Use ribbon or even paper frames to create definition around your hobby objects. Cost: Free to $25

Use inexpensive identical frame to structure the display of 3D items.

Vintage cameras are framed and displayed by

Plate collection in frames over the fireplace

These plates are displayed in paper frames by


#5 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Driftwood

If you have ever walked a beach, you have most likely come across pieces of driftwood. Bring home those treasures for a no-cost way to decorate above the mantel. Individually, the pieces can be nothing special, but when grouped together, you and Mother Nature have collaborated to create art! Cost: Free

Driftwood decorates fireplace wall

Be inspired by this West Elm image to arrange driftwood pieces above your fireplace.

#6 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Square Mirror Tiles

A large mirror is traditional above the fireplace, but large mirrors can be expensive. Square mirror tiles or 10 inch square centerpiece mirrors, especially when applied from mantel all the way up to the crown molding or ceiling, can give a dramatic look at a budget friendly price. Cost $25 and up

Square mirror tiles above fireplace

Get the look of the Robert A. M. Stern townhouse bedroom with square mirror tiles.

#7 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: 3D Butterflies

Is your fireplace ready for a flight of fancy? Make  your own from cardstock or buy inexpensive 3D butterfly wall stickers to create a very inexpensive fireplace wall display about your  mantel. Mount them on a reclaimed wood base (such as from wood pallets) or directly on the wall. Cost: Under $10

3D butterflies above fireplace are an inexpensive way to decorate mounted white butterflies on reclaimed wood, but they can also be placed directly onto the wall.

#8 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Paint Stirrer Framed Mirror

Wooden paint stirrers can transform a too-small mirror into a dramatic mirror, right-sized for a display above the fireplace mantel. You may already have a collection of paint stirrers, you can ask your local hardware store for some, or you can purchase a large supply of craft paint stirrers inexpensively.  Round centerpiece table mirrors can be less expensive that the same mirror sold as a wall mirror. Cost: $25 or less

Paint stirrer mirror for above fireplace. gives complete directions for constructing a budget friendly paint stirrer mirror.

#9 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Wall Clock Pieces

In the $10 to $25 range, wall clock stickers are a budget way to decorate above the fireplace. Their drama is much larger than their price! Available in styles ranging from traditional black roman numerals to sleek, modern numberless, reflective mirror pieces, they work with every decorating style. Cost: $10 to $25

Wall clock stickers above the fireplace.

Wall clock stickers make a big impact with a small price.

#10 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Recycled Wood Display

Turn scrap or recycled wood into a unique and inexpensive fireplace wall display. We like the look of aged wood, so old wooden pallets are a good source of free wood with character. Or you can age wood with steel wool, vinegar and tea. Measure the width of the area above the fireplace for your display. Cut the pieces of wood into the shapes you want, and glue or nail them onto the wall. Cost: Free

Scrap wood art display above fireplace created this inexpensive above fireplace display using scrap wood.

#11 Inexpensive Fireplace Wall Idea: Foil Art

If you are a bit crafty, you can create some astonishingly attractive, one-of-a-kind work of art for above your fireplace. The work will appear to be metal, and will have the look of Victorian ceiling tiles. All it takes is tacky glue and things you already have in your home such as aluminum foil, cardboard and shoe polish. Foil art is so easy, even children can do it, but it is not limited to childish designs. Cost: $4

Foil art for inexpensive fireplace wall art

Create your own foil art for above the fireplace. Directions and image by


Inexpensive fireplace wall decorating ideas need not look like you are on a budget. Instead, they can be art you are proud of and that gather wows from friends.



Posted in Decorating Tagged with:

Crystal Glass Fireplace Logs

Jeff Benroth's cast glass logs.

Crystal glass fireplace logs are a great alternative to real firewood when you don’t use your fireplace during the warmer seasons or all year around if you don’t use the fireplace at all. These dramatic glass or crystal logs work equally well in a classic, traditional room as they work in a modern, sleek room.

The intense contrast between the concept of earthy, substantial logs and the ethereal, delicate nature of glass and crystals makes one’s brain do a double take! These seemingly incongruous concepts have been beautifully wedded.

There are multiple ways to achieve the look of crystal glass fireplace logs in your fireplace. Some are a good deal pricier than others. All have their wow-factor amplified by a small light source.

Top of the Line Crystal Glass Fireplace Logs

The Jeff Benroth glass logs shown at the top of this page are works of art. Each log is made by sand-casting a real piece of wood and then pouring molten glass into the negative of the casting. Each 15 inch long, 4 inch diameter glass log looks real because it was make from a real log. These glass logs were produced in a limited run of 500, and each is numbered and signed. Don’t gasp too loudly when you see the price: $500. That’s per log. The nine in the display would total $4500.

Glass-Like Selenite Crystal Fireplace Logs


Glass like crystal selenite logs have many of the visual properties of glass fireplace logs but at a much lower price point. Selenite is a form of gypsum that naturally occurs as transparent or semitransparent crystals. The word selenite comes from the Greek word for moon because it has moon-like properties. Folklore claims selenite crystals remove negative energy from a room, but all we are sure of is that they make impressive substitutes for real firewood.

These selenite logs come in 9.5 to 12 inch long pieces, well sized to smaller fireplaces. For larger fireplaces, you may need to buy twice as many. They cost about $25 a piece.

Selenite Crystal Fireplace Sculptures

Another alternative to glass crystal fireplace logs are selenite fireplace sculptures. They capture the glass-like quality of glass logs and the crystal properties of selenite logs.

Above is an awesome Selenite Crystal Fireplace Sculpture, 24 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and 15 to 18 inches tall. It is put together so votive candles can be tucked into it: When lit, they do indeed give a moon-like glow from within. The price is also awesome: $5,200.00! No, the decimal point is not in the wrong place.

Votive candles within the selenite fireplace sculpture

Votive candles within the selenite fireplace sculpture

You can create your own, dramatically less expensive, selenite fireplace sculpture by clustering these large selenite tower pieces (12 inch, 14 inch and 16 inch tall, running in the low $100s to the low $200s depending on size) with smaller (4 inch tall) selenite towers (about $8 each).

Add your own glass votive candles holders with candles, and  you have replicated the expensive selenite fireplace sculpture for a fraction of the cost.

Acrylic and Polycarbon Alternatives to Crystal Glass FireplaceLogs

Create a minimalist version of glass or crystal fireplace logs with clear, solid acrylic rods or clear tubes of polycarbon. These alternatives to firewood logs make a stunning display in a modern fireplace. Set them so you see the long sides, as you would firewood. Or up the drama by stacking them in the fireplace with the ends pointing toward the room.

Solid acrylic rods substitute for fireplace logs.

Solid acrylic rods can substitute for fireplace logs.


Clear carbonite tubes

Clear carbonite tubes can also substitute for fireplace logs.

Measure your fireplace and select or cut the tubes or rods into lengths appropriate for your fireplace, typically 12 inches to 22 inches long. To select ones that mimic actual firewood, go for outside diameters in the 2 to 6 inch range. If cost is an issue, smaller diameter ones are less expensive. Three inch diameter solid acrylic rods run about $65 per foot and 3 inch diameter carbonite tubes cost about $10 per foot.

Transparency of Glass + Crystalline Shapes

If you like the dramatic look of glass and the dynamic shape of crystals for your fireplace, here are two alternatives to crystal glass fireplace logs.

Each side of these handmade glass dodecahedrons is a five-sided pentagon. One side is open. The smaller one is 7 inches and the larger one is 9  inches. Together, they cost about $140 including shipping. Depending on the size of your fireplace,  you may need more than two.

Glass "cubes"

These five inch glass “cubes” actually have a seventh side.

Make your own, DIY version with these 5 inch glass “cubes”. One side is open, and a seventh side tilts the cube. Cluster several of them to replicate the more expensive look of the handmade dodecahedrons. They are only $16 for one cube. Complete the look with mini-globe lights.

Grouping of glass "cubes"

A cluster of glass “cubes” can fill your fireplace. Add mini-lights.


TIPS for Using Crystal Glass Fireplace Logs

Whether you are filling your fireplace with glass fireplace logs or selenite fireplace logs, crystal selenite fireplace sculptures or glass polyhedrons, keep these two things in mind:

  • Play up the unique qualities of glass and crystals by adding a light source.
    Candles, mini-lights, small LED up-lights, or even wireless stick-on lights can do the job. Place them behind and within your display, not in front of it.You won’t need lots of light. Keep it small. Too much light can diminish the effect.
  • Elevate a small arrangement.
    If you find your display looks too small for the size of your fireplace, elevating it by placing it on a clear glass or acrylic box or display base can magnify its effect. Add a small up-light source inside the box.


Let us know how you’ve used any of these looks in your fireplace!

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