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So many irons in the fire

November 20, 2003|Adamo DiGregorio and David A. Keeps | Special to The Times

Fireplaces are the heart of the California home, connecting us to our Western heritage. Come the holidays, they seduce us once again. Like a little black dress, fireplaces also beg for accessories. There are mesh curtains, glass screens, metal log-holders, nailhead-trimmed leather bellows and kindling pine cones that create colorful flames.

The real jewels, however, are the tools. Unchanged for centuries, the poker, the broom and the shovel are the showpieces of the hearth.

Forged from brass, iron or steel, these rugged individualist pieces -- whether like-new vintage or brand-new contemporary -- are built to last and priced to become heirlooms.

Live in a French Normandy or an Italian McMansion? Wilshire Fireplace Shops in West Hollywood has tool sets that run the style gamut from equestrian to gothic. And they stock andirons too.

For modernists, there are many fine pieces, from a curvaceous 1950s set that would look at home with Art Deco or Atomic Age furnishings to Peter Maly's award-winning, late-'90s stainless steel trio of leather-handled tools in a tall, thin, but surprisingly hefty stand.

Employing simple shapes and classic proportions, a brass-handled set of triangular irons or chrome tools with a Lucite stand would impart equal elegance to both a free-standing '60s ski-lodge fireplace and a contemporary granite mantelpiece.

If you have cabin fever or are just plain folks, you're also in luck: The recent trend in fireplace tools is basic black wrought iron, available at a home improvement store near you.

For more artistic rustic, check out the wide selection at Rituals in Los Angeles, (310) 854-0848.

Or add a few more degrees of glamour, and some seasonal scents, by tossing an Aromatic Burning Bundle of lavender, rosemary and bay on the fire -- $24 for three, from www.smithand hawken.com, (800) 981-9888.

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