Style doctor: Your questions answered

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Q I wonder if you can help with a problem we currently have. Many years ago we had a salvaged fireplace fitted in our lounge. The mantel and surround are in marble and the insert and grate are metal, presumably iron.

The original firebrick behind the grate was a rather unusual egg shape measuring about 12”-13” from top to bottom. The firebrick was damaged even at the time of installation and has finally disintegrated. We have tried to source a replacement but without success. Do you know of anywhere we might get a replacement - either new or salvaged? If not, any other suggestions? We love using an open fire.

W Reith

A Interior designer Pat Elliot says, Firebricks are normally cut to size with a diamond cutter, but since yours does not appear to be a standard shape, you may have to have one custom made. Any reputable chimney sweep who is HETAS registered may be able to advise you on a replacement, but a specialist company such as Falkirk-based Central Refractories (01324 624 412) should be able to help.

Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House (07765 057 409,

Q I am looking for an owl-related gift for a friend for Christmas. I don’t want any kind of ornament, but something with an owl theme would be great.

A Hudson

A The Lisa Jones Design Studio does a lovely Olaf owl cushion cover. The black and white image is printed on machine washable unbleached cotton. It measures 45cm x 45cm and would make a lovely present.

Olaf cushion cover, £24.95, Folly (01455 631 984,

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