West Lake Hills shop specializes in fireplaces

First as managers and then as co-owners, Dorothy Duhon and Ray Duhon have been warming up the West Lake Hills area since 1988.

The Dorothy and Ray own Churchill's Fireside & Patio, which sells outdoor patio furniture, gas logs, fireplaces and fireplace accessories. Despite Austin's warmer climate, Dorothy said sales have been consistently good for the locally owned store.

"Every year we have better business than the year before," she said. "We are extremely customer service–oriented. We have lots of customers who have been with us for years."

The Dorothy and Ray worked at Churchill's as managers when the store opened and bought the store from their former bosses about 10 years ago.

Dorothy said she enjoys making people's lives a little better and cozier by bringing fireplaces to their homes.

"It's something we love doing, making people's houses pretty," she said. "We are very good at what we do."

Since going home after a long day to a broken fireplace is disappointing, Dorothy said she gives out her cell phone number to customers so she is only a call away. Churchill's staff will work nights and weekends to satisfy customers, she said.

"We try to work around a customer's schedule, not our own," she said.

Some of Churchill's customers drive as much as four hours to do business with the store, Dorothy said. Being in business for more than 20 years has allowed Churchill's to sell fireplaces to multiple generations of the same family, she said.

She called Ray "a genius" at being able to find out what fireplace will look best in a home.

"All of our business pretty much comes from word of mouth," she said.

In a male-dominated fireplace industry, Duhon said she makes it point to go toe to toe with any guy.

"I'm not afraid to get dirty, climb in a fireplace and get it done," she said. "I enjoy that."

Canine welcome committee

For years, Sybil and Buzzy have greeted Churchill's customers at the door.

However, these honorary employees are not just hosts; they are also the store's unofficial mascots.

Churchill's co-owner Dorothy Duhon said the dogs have helped create a welcoming atmosphere at the store.

The pair can be seen wandering around the store on any given day. Sybil often stops by one of the fireplaces to nap, she said.

Gas logs

Churchill's Fireside & Patio's specialty is selling gas log sets, co-owner Dorothy Duhon said.

Duhon said Churchill's sells about 600 to 900 gas log sets a year. Most of the sets are sold in the winter, she said.

A gas log set is a gas-fed fireplace that uses a special kind of ceramic log. The gas log setup requires a working fireplace and chimney. Once lit, a gas log set takes about 20 minutes to fully heat, Duhon said.

Gas logs are popular in Austin's warmer climate because they are easy to start and put out, Duhon said. Gas logs are practical for days when it is cold in the morning and night and then warm during the day, Duhon said.

Churchill's sells a variety of gas log sets and sizes, with a basic setup starting at $379. Churchill's also performs in-home consultations, Duhon said.

"You want [the gas log set] to fit the decor of the house," she said. "It all depends on the customer and the environment."

Patio furniture

In addition to gas logs, Churchill's sells full patio sets and outdoor fireplaces.

The store offers wicker, cast aluminum, wrought iron and mosaic stone tables as well as special-order sets from Mallin, Summer Classics, Telescope Casual and Paragon.

Churchill's co-owner Dorothy Duhon said the store decided to sell patio furniture since people can enjoy the outdoor weather in Austin most of the year.

Churchill's Fireside & Patio, 3300 Bee Caves Road, West Lake Hills, 512-328-9356, www.churchillsaustin.com

  • Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
  • Sun. closed