The fireplace in the Rancho’s living room isn’t sporting stockings hung with care or any other seasonal bric-a-brac but that doesn’t mean it’s not festive or devoid of color. When the living room was first put together we found that it didn’t stand out enough as a focal point. The firebox was flanked by clunky “brass” andirons and the mantle was boring. So I decided to paint the whole thing — hearth, bricks, brass trim and mantle — a very dark, blue-green gray. Almost black, but with more character. Looked great but needed more, um, stuff … aren’t mantles really just opportunities to put your fave things out on … and, things I had plenty of!
There’s a faceted mirror with antiqued glass, topped regally by a brass antelope head. At the base of the mirror is what seems like the contents of a cabinet of curiosities: bottom-heavy gilded plaster Adam and Eve figurines, a carved-wood kitty-kat with shiny eyes and a ballpoint pen hidden inside, horn vessels, ceramic animals, stone fragments, seed pods, a porcupine quill goblet and some ceramic and wood knick-knacks. Combined, the effect is layered, textural and a little bit nutty. Perfect, in other words! The firebox was then seeming a little black hole-y, so I stacked various colorful cushions in front of it, adding interesting sculptures on either side. On the left is an anatomically-correct junk sculpture cyclops/robot by Long Beach artist, Rick Frausto. On the other side is a wooden piece by self-taught Riverside artist, the late Cornelius Smith. It’s what looks like a pensive youth, kneeling, and looking ahead to the future. It’s also completely covered with finely carved hair top to bottom, so maybe it’s an idealistic sasquatch. Not only d0 the fireplace and mantle now command the attention of a true focal point, but they do so with wit, texture and a sense of humor.