While home is where the heart is, the heart of the home was at one time the fireplace. Nowadays, fireplaces have taken a back seat to the kitchen and the family room. They remain a focal point for rooms but sometimes have to fight against the flat screen TV for the prime real estate spot. One of my pet peeves is the need to hang a TV above the fireplace. Such a request could send designers to the edge of creative insanity. Fortunately, I have been able to avoid having to face a disastrous planning exercise that could only end up with TV trumping over taste. Now and then I must confess that I have seen nice solutions involving flipper doors, sliding paintings and disappearing panels hiding the unmistakably slick TV screen, however flat it is. Alas, I am still one of those old timers who fought for the fireplace being the belle of the ball, the apple of a visitor’s eyes or… shall we say, the fire of the place.
There are so many ways one can dress up a firebox. I will just have to jump to my usual visual aids without further explanation.
An Alphonse Mucha room with one of a kind fireplace.
Cast iron fireplace with Art Nouveau tiles.
Gothic Revival fireplaces.
Victorian Gothic. This room is from Carlton Towers. Notice the curved top that served to reflect the heat into the room.
Art Deco with stepped form.
Carved stone fireplaces. We can get them as carved or cast stone. The result is simply elegant. The relief on the stone gives extra layers of detailing to the fireplace.
Bolection fireplaces generally consist of a convex molded feature, looking more like a framed casing around the opening.
Old reclaimed limestone or reclaimed wood fireplaces for rustic settings.
Rough stone facing.
Picture framed for a classic modern take.
Monolithic floor to ceiling surround in modern setting.
Patterned mineral panel or dimensional tile floor to ceiling treatment.
Compositional in use of materials.
See through fireplace.
Let’s not forget the inglenooks of old houses for a more intimacy.
Then there some of my fireplace designs…
This is an inglenook for an Arts and Crafts home in Piedmont. The existing fireplace was taken down to be replaced with a new gas fireplace. The Crossings tiles were used under a custom wood mantel.
This was a complete remodel of a remodel where the existing fireplace had a 1960’s face lift with smooth polished onyx with little to do with a Mediterranean style house. The flat ceiling was removed to uncover the cathedral ceiling and the trusses which were refurbished with custom designed iron straps. I had a limestone fireplace surround brought in. The opening of the firebox was redone to center properly between the two pairs of French doors. The scale of the new fireplace works well with the size of the room.
I designed this curved fireplace surround made of cast colored concrete adorned by a curved wood mantel. The effect is serene while the effort was anything but effortless.
This fireplace was for a family room. The composition was asymetrical with the floating shelf to reflect the informal setting of the room. The surround was made of a monolithic limestone and the mantel was dark stained cedar.
This fireplace for a sitting area was chosen from a company that made prefabricated stone fireplace. There was much less time involved in the design. The choice was to find a stone for the immediate surround next to the gas fireplace opening. In this case, a slight grey marble with wiggling lines got my attention because it would lend itself well to a muted color scheme.
Then there are those fireplaces that are out of this world…
An Art Deco carved masterpiece!
Charles Rennie Mackintosh fireplace complete with his signature floral design motif.
An Art Nouveau fireplace that was part of the entire room composition. One wonders where the fireplace stopped and the room began…
The Peacock Room. The fireplace played second fiddler to the painting but if one were to display a Whistler, why would anyone do anything else but showcase the Whistler. This was one of many fortunate results in the history interior design when an artist was asked to do a few “minor changes” and he did a total redo of the room because he couldn’t stop. To think that the client was none too pleased with the result because Whistler completely painted over a 16th century Cordoba leather wall covering brought over to England by Catherine of Aragon! What disregard for a pricey piece of leather, what arrogance, what passion…
Photo sources: click on photos to link to sources.