Image Courtesy of Girardini Design
The modern era of fireplace design continues to evolve. Back in the old days the fireplace earned it’s place in the heart of the home by serving as a heat source, cook top, and home entertainment center. Many older homes still have traditional fireplaces but they’ve become under-used black holes decorated with candles, object d’ art and dried flower arrangements. But fireplaces can return to being safe, functional, and fiery focal points. All you need is some direction and a match.
Traditional wood burning fireplaces abound but everybody knows they’re not much good for heat. Converting to a gas powered, or a wood fired insert can change all that and make the fireplace an efficient heat source. The aesthetics of an existing interior design scheme for a fireplace can also be updated by changing the façade which is also known as the “surround.”
But before you get to the fun stuff, you need to decide on a fuel. If you enjoy the snap, crackle and scent of burning timber and don’t mind the mess, stick with wood. But according to local hearth industry experts there is a clear trend away from tradition as most new fireplaces are going to gas or a wood burning insert as seen below.
Image Courtesy of Mendota
Installing a gas or wood insert isn’t cheap because a new flue usually needs to be run inside the existing chimney. Expect to pay a minimum of $2000 for an insert. You can buy gas logs starting at $500, but a qualified installer is needed to determine flue requirements and properly plumb the gas line.
If you’re on a budget you can also check out “vent less” systems that don’t require a flue. Keep in mind that some manufacturers suggest leaving a window open while the flames are on. There’s also electric systems and pellet fueled fireplaces which run on a combination of electricity and recycled wood pellets.
Once the fuel decision is made, think about how the fireplace looks in the room. Proportion is a critical issue as a small firebox in a room with twenty five foot ceilings looks silly. Silly is a bad thing and you also have to think about a competing focal point, the television. To deal with the conundrum, some designers are combing the two into one wall, as seen below.
Image Courtesy of Capital Design
Deciding on a style for an interior design fireplace makeover leads back to what’s around it. Designs can be minimized or ornate, but the trick is to think outside the box. The bold use of steel or other materials can change the look of room. Painting existing brick or re-cladding with natural or cultured stone will work for traditional rooms. Metal fireplace surrounds work well in contemporary environments and can be rendered as shiny stainless steel, or dark-hewed, hot rolled steel as seen below.
Image Courtesy of Timothy Bell
Artists who work in steel can also help you realize a totally custom look including the idea of using a skateboard as a mantle, as seen here. Keep in mind that steel doors will transfer heat to the touch so figure out a way to isolate door handles in the interior design of your custom fireplace.
Image Courtesy of Giradini Design
Concrete is another material being used for fireplace surrounds and it can be fashioned to reflect many different design points of view including the neoclassical version seen below. Different from sidewalk-grade concrete by a honing process the material is smooth to the touch and is usually priced similar to stone.
Image Courtesy of Concrete Jungle
If the idea of doing more work inside the house puts you off, there is another option. Build it outside. Already popular in New England and California, taking the flames outdoors is a great way to turn a backyard into an outdoor room. Outside or as part of the
interior design, fireplaces
are another key element to your overall design point of view.
Image Courtesy of Federal Stone and Brick
Outdoor fireplaces can be used as a screen to block the view from the neighbors in addition to providing a focal point for outdoor entertaining. designs can be simlple or more complex. This one incorporates two built-in timber boxes and sits on a stone patio. Plan your outdoor living room near your outdoor kitchen and move everybody out of the house! Weather permitting, of course.
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