Even though this world keeps getting so tech-heavy I hardly know how to function, I refuse to make a smart TV the center of the home. Yes, it can be part of the home (for sure!) but it’s not the jewel. Since ages past, the hearth — or fireplace — has been the central focus of a home. It’s where the family gathered together on chilly nights and told stories, read books, listened to the radio — and communicated. And it was a place to cook your food, too! It kept you warm and fed you. How could you not love a fireplace? One hot fireplace was key to a solid house.

These days, central heating and air make most fireplaces obsolete. So the gas inserts become second-thoughts and look like it, too. How many homes these days have a gas fireplace insert, a nailed-on mantel, and a flat screen TV on top? Too many. And don’t get me wrong, I love a good football game and roaring fire, both. So I’m not saying don’t put up a flatscreen. I’m simply pointing out that the function and beauty of a masonry fireplace has been lost.

But not if you custom build with me. I’ll probably try to talk you into a solid masonry fireplace box. One you can toke up with big flames and roast smores over. One with a blacksmith forged iron door and detailing done by a real craftsman — not just bought out of a catalogue.

Call me old-fashioned…I just can’t pass up the symbol of family-time. One hot fireplace — either in the kitchen, a great room, or a formal dining area — they look amazing, function to perfection, and bring a certain ambiance to a home. This is where we get-together. This is where we talk. This is a home.

Jess Alway