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You and Your Fireplace

by Nikki Willhite

Is there anything more warm and inviting in a home than a fireplace? Is there anything that makes you feel more secure in a storm than being inside a warm room with a crackling wood burning fireplace and a big stack of logs?

Except for houses in warm areas, I think all homes should have fireplaces.

I don't care whether fireplace inserts and wood stoves  are considered outdated or not, I believe every home should have either a wood fireplace with an insert with a cooking top, or a wood stove you can cook on.

I am dumbfounded every time I see someone buying a home in Alaska without a fireplace.  What is the plan if the power goes out?  What were the builders of these homes thinking?  Unless these houses are heated with propane or oil, the people in these homes are going to be in trouble if they lose power.

I use to think Seattle was a safe place to be when the power goes out.  I was mistaken.  Our home turned into a "hostile environment" when we lost power for 4 days.  We didn't freeze, as we had a gas fireplace, but if we wanted to stay warm we had to sit in front of it.

Lots of people prefer the convenience of gas fireplaces. Many men prefer gas fireplaces because they don't have to find sources of wood, split logs and then store them. Women prefer gas fireplaces because they are clean, and you don't have to deal with the bugs that can come in with the wood.

However, you don't get the ambiance of a wood burning fireplace with gas. You don't get the crackling sounds of the burning logs.  You also do not have the option of cooking on top of it.  It just doesn't get hot enough.

I broke every decorating rule in the book when we were finally able to install a wood stove in our family room.  Who puts two fireplaces in one room?  We already had a gas fireplace.

I didn't care.  The peace of mind that wood stove gives me, with it's heat, light, and cooking ability is worth it.  There are 17 people in my family and they all live nearby, including one of my sons who moved down the street from me last year.   If they get cold, all they have to do is walk down the street to be warm. I know I can take in all my family if need be and we will be warm and comfortable.

I saved money for a long time to buy that wood stove.  If there is one remodeling project I would encourage above all others, it is a wood stove. I suppose that comes from my husband doing homeowner insurance claims in areas hit by storms for so many years, plus the fact that I get cold so easily and I don't expect that to change as I get older.

Another advantage of these stoves is that you can burn press logs.  You can store pressed logs in your garage, so they are easily accessible and no one is going to take them from you.

If you plan on staying in your home, give some thought to putting a fireplace on your wish list.  If you already have a wood burning fireplace, all you need is an insert with a cooking shelf. 

Sleep well, knowing you and your family do not have to worry when those lights flicker.

About the Author: Nikki Willhite, mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing articles on the topic of frugal living for over a decade. Visit her at - where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal Happy Families- more than just money!

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