Fireside Chat

Comfort, nearby seating, an artful surround, and more all add spark to a fireplace


"There is no place more delightful than one's own fireplace," said Roman philosopher and lawyer Marcus Cicero a few thousand years ago. Those Michiganians lucky enough to have a fireplace in their home today likely would agree with him. The National Association of Home Builders reports that homebuyers rank fireplaces among the top three most-desired amenities (behind outdoor porches and upgraded kitchens). Indeed, finding refuge hearthside provides cozy contentment — it's a wonderful spot to spend  a bone-chilling evening, whether with a book in hand or just quietly contemplating the day's events amid a pleasing crackle here and a sizzle there.

The fireplace shown here is in the Ann Arbor home of Motawi Tileworks owner Nawal Motawi. Motawi, who moved from a 1920s farmhouse to a 1950s California-style ranch, wanted a new aesthetic — a big departure from her previous Arts and Crafts-period décor.

"We created a design that was eye-catching," she says, "yet kept with the period."

Motawi's favorite aspects include the fascinating striping gradation and the 16 wonderful color variations of the Zelda tile. "They create a striking ribbon effect that is the strength of the design, with matte-black field tile acting as the canvas for the art tiles."

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