Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Tale of Two Fireplaces, part one

When we designed the house, I was very aware of the main axis running from the front door, through the gallery to the kitchen wall. You can't end the first view through the house with a blank wall, so we put in a fireplace. This is a pretty classical approach.

Our other main axis runs parallel to the gallery, just 15 feet to the west. It runs through the living room, dining room and kitchen. Since you can see from one end of the house to the other it was important to have visual weight at either end. We used the range and hood in the kitchen and a fireplace in the living room.

When we were in construction, the contractor wanted to know what I wanted the fireplace mantles to look like. I pulled out a few pages I had torn from magazines (Pinterest, I could have used you!) and we started mocking up two complimentary fireplaces using wood laying around and the trim pieces we already had from all the baseboard, crown moldings etc. I was aiming for a slightly more formal living room fireplace and a more casual "kitchen" fireplace mantle. The living room firebox is 46 inches wide, the kitchen one is 36 inches, so the sizing goes along with my ideas as well. The kitchen fireplace is trimmed out with more emphasis on the vertical, which really works when you are looking at it from 50 feet away from the front door.

The Living room fireplace is trimmed out in a more horizontal emphasis. The lines and the trim runs all the way across the mantle, with no breaks, which goes nicely with all the long, low lines of the living room.

After spending so much time at the stone yard looking for countertop materials, we stumbled upon Lagos Azul, blue-grey limestone with nice figuration as our surround and hearth material. It ties in nicely with our wall colors, both the darker Charcoal of the living room and the lighter blue in the kitchen. I think the using the same materials for both helps tie them together.

The fireboxes themselves are designed in the traditional Rumford style, which draws really nicely, and allows us to have real fires in them without smoke or ash spilling into the house. The box is slightly lower than the hearth, which keeps the ash in the firebox as much as possible.

The hearth is a solid piece of limestone, set just slightly higher (maybe 1/8 of an inch) than the wood floors. I like that it gives us a clearly defined area for the fires.

We really do use the living room fireplace, it was a huge hit at Thanksgiving, our kids love it for S'mores on a rainy day, and it adds a bit of atmosphere when we are watching football on the big screen right next to it. Just think of it as adding some sophistication to the sports-palooza that happens when my husband and my brother-in-law get together.

I had fantasies of using the kitchen fireplace, putting a few armchairs in front of it, reading books to the kids, doing puzzles on a rug on the floor... And then reality set in. Once we installed the kitchen cabinets, and the counters, and then added barstools, there wasn't any space, so for now it's just for looking at, which is still pretty great.

Linked to:
Open House Party Thursdays
30 Handmade Days

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Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Your home is so pretty! Wanted to thank you for your comment today and also suggest trying the Target "Our Generation" doll for your daughter first to see how she does. We have 3 of them and my girls love them. Their doll accessories are actually pretty awesome. :)

Mm said...

I am making my way through the moms on the mommy panel linkup this week. I had surgery and had not had time so far. I love the blues in your house. My husband wanted us to build our own house like that. I did not listen and opted for buying an antique farm house to fix up. We own it out right but after 50 grand into us buying and repairing we still needed to hire contractors Once all is said and done with that being another 40 grand I am hoping to be able to decorate. This place needed walls torn out for all new electric and the works.

Autumn said...

I stumbled upon your blog by accident. The whole time I'm looking at your house pictures with a mouth dropped! I mean, check out that million dollar view from your kitchen and your living room! And the floating TV... wow! Do you live in Los Angeles?

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