Gather ‘round the fire’s glow

Though it didn't stick around for long, southeastern Connecticut had its first snowfall blanket of the new year. Across the region, gleeful kids and parents were seen out and about, shoveling pathways or seeking out the best local hills for sledding. The occasional wafting scent of a neighbor's fireplace conjured images of families gathered by the fire, warm and cozy after a day of snow play and snow removal.

While fireplaces and woodstoves once provided a necessary home heating source, today they serve a less practical role in the home — as a décor accent or as a way to add mood and ambiance to an interior space or special occasion. They can be wood-burning, gas-fired or even simple electrical appliances that increasingly look like the real deal.

A fireplace's surround and mantel provide opportunity for design flair; they're often the focal point of a room. If a fireplace tends to look "dated," HGTV.com compiled "30 Ways to Refresh Your Fireplace on Any Budget" to help you breathe new life into it. For example, you might add a statement-making mantel or choose a decorative ceramic tile surround, the site suggests. A skilled mason can give a facelift to dingy brick. A stone façade can give the room a rustic vibe, while a marble surround is more traditional and formal presentation.

For readers in the market for a home in the area, Welcome Home chose two distinctive residences to spotlight this week — one to be built and one that dates back to 1970 — each with fireplaces incorporated into their floor plans.

43 Whiting Farms Lane is in the 55+ community of Whiting Farms Commons; it's one of the last remaining lots for sale in this condominium association. This particular lot will be the site of a two-bedroom, three-bath single-family home, with 1,700 square feet of living space and attached garaging. Realtor Jonathan Rodgers, who's affiliated with Randall Realtors Compass' Mystic brokerage, represents the developer-seller.

The interiors have 9-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, granite surfaces and stainless appliances in the kitchen, and an instant-on gas fireplace in the living room.

"At Whiting Farms, the fireplace was designed to act as a gathering point for family and friends on frosty evenings or simply as a place to curl up and read a good book," Rodgers suggested. "Centrally located in the open floor plan, the warmth and glow from the fireplace can be enjoyed from the living room, kitchen or dining area throughout the colder months." The asking price for this 2022-built home that offers the convenience of condominium living with the privacy and space of a single-family residence.

Fireplaces heat up modern interiors

Architect Olav Pedersen designed the modern masterpiece at 3-2 Bill Hill Road in Old Lyme. The four-bedroom house, in-ground pool and detached four-car garage are sited among the partially wooded 5.10 acres.

Patricia Williams is the team leader at the Patricia Williams Team, affiliated with William Raveis Real Estate in Niantic. She's the listing agent for this one-of-a-kind home, and she noted how the fireplaces incorporated into the 4,462 square feet of living space provide both ambiance and ambient warmth.

"The home has two wood-burning fireplaces situated towards the middle of the respective rooms. Their location helps create an open and inviting ambiance that is integrated in a way that allows for multiple uses and forms of enjoyment," Williams explained. "Both of the fireplaces are open on the front and back, with the convenience of their location within the home allowing you to choose how best to enjoy them.

"On one side downstairs you are in the large family room, from which you can view the pool and the back yard," she explained. "Upstairs, on the front side, it overlooks the sunroom below, and you can enjoy the yard. (It) has a scenic, wooded backdrop as viewed by the full-length glass walls — for total peace and relaxation. Apart from comfort, the fireplaces also have full function and assist in heating the home." The property is currently listed for $1.75 million.

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