When we built our house, we had the option of putting in a fireplace, or three. Jacob had an unfortunate incident in our last house when a fire was going. The logs shifted, one rolled out and off the hearth, and melted the carpet in one thick line, about seven feet long. Because he's an idiot, he picked up the burning log with his bare hands and threw it out the backdoor where the rain put it out. This, combined with my fear of fires (I was once in a house fire, but that's a post for another day. It's quite embarrassing), and the fact that we were bringing a toddler and a newborn into our new home, I was ok with leaving out that option. Looking back, we should have put in a gas fireplace, but we weren't thinking clearly. There are too many decisions when you build, especially when you're six months pregnant!
I actually don't mind not having a fireplace. Sure, it would be nice to get cozy and read next to it during the winter or roast marshmallows with the boys, but I really hated cleaning the old one and I'd be so nervous with the kids and kittens around it. We'd probably never use it. The one thing I do miss is having a mantel for decorating, not to mention a place for Christmas stockings! So we put up two Ikea Ribba picture ledges on a wall in our living room and I have been using that as my holiday space this past year.
The shelves aren't wonky! Jacob installed them and used a level. I just can't take a decent picture.
Please don't judge my lack of decorating skills. It's all pretty tacky, but it's hard to find decor that's less than three inches in size. I'm sure it'll change over time when I find pieces I like rather than grabbing anything to quickly fill the space. I just like that it's a little place up and out of the way to put some color and holiday spirit on. The kids really like it too and always get excited to decorate for the next holiday. When we aren't being festive, it just holds framed photos of us and our families.