A few days ago, I was reading an article on the history of the mantel as a "family altar" in a 1985 Art & Antiques magazine. Fireplaces are magical, insisted the article, and so it's only natural that since the seventeenth century, the mantel has been used to display what we as a culture hold nearest and dearest. (In 1985, the past was all the rage, although I wonder just what it is we're worshiping today.)
What a lovely, romantic idea, I thought, especially with the onset of the holiday season. Yet, it occurred to me that sometimes, you've gotta work with what you've got, even when what you've got isn't really what you want.
Take, for instance, this extremely earthy looking fireplace. It imparts a very ski lodge-y feel to an entire room, even if a ski lodge isn't exactly the altar at which you'd like to worship.
So, in the interest of keeping alive the dream that we should all be able to choose where and what we'd like to worship, I painted, gilded, and distressed a canvas cloth to fit the fireplace. Put it on, take it off, hide the altar, change the scene...worship the altar of change, the ability to morph and be something new at the drop of a hat. How ideal is that?
The fireplace pre- transformation: