September 18, 2011

RESIDENTIAL FIREPLACES

Photobucket
MAKE SURE THE FIREPLACE  IS PERFECT AS IT IS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE ROOM!

The Fireplace – that cozy spot where we warm ourselves after a snowy day, or on cool evenings if there's a chill.

For centuries fireplaces have literally been the heart of the home - everything circled around the hearth.  They eventually evolved into some enormously scaled monument to fire with a shelf for ones very best knick-knacks.  However, they've changed more in the last 25 years than ever before.  A “fireplace” used to mean a masonry box where real wood from downed trees was burned, now a fireplace refers to a dedicated space where anything from wood, gas, gel-fuel, coal to cow-turds are burned to create fire…..sometimes with no heat…weird, riiiight?


Poorly thought-out fireplaces can be just as heinous in metal pre-fab or labor intensive masonry.  
These below have been featured on the new TV home show 
"OH NO YOU DI'INT"

Photobucket

This missive on Fireplaces will make me look like a complete fireplace snob…but, I don’t care, really.  I’ll show you the right way to do it - then you’re on your own.   It’s very easy to create an ugly fireplace, as you’ll see herewith.  It definitely takes more creativity to make a fabulous pee-in-your-pants one.  
Here’s what you’ll need:  Taste and a tapemeasure!!!


UNDERSTANDING PERIOD FIREPLACES
Try to find the appropriate fireplace or mantel for the style of house you live in or are trying to create

ENGLISH STYLE MANTELS

GOTHIC STYLE MANTELS
Limestone and sandstone
Photobucket


GEORGIAN (II&III) 
Carved limestone, marble and wood
Photobucket


REGENCY STYLE 
Marble and painted wood
Photobucket


VICTORIAN STYLE 
Marble and slate with hand-painted scenes
Photobucket


LATE VICTORIAN 
Marble and wood
Photobucket


FRENCH STYLE MANTELS
(Clockwise from top left) 
LOUIS XIV, LOUIS XV, REGENCE, LOUIS XVI
Photobucket


FRENCH
Mantels with "chimney breasts"
Photobucket


NEWLY BUILT FIREPLACES WITH CHIMNEY BREASTS
Photobucket


'BOLLECTION' MOULDING SURROUNDS
A single moulding which surrounds the firebox

CONTEMPORARY FIREPLACES AND  MANTELS
I love this one. You can enjoy the view and the fire!
Photobucket
Photobucket
These contemporary designs have the very simplest fireplace surrounds or mantels


Corner fireplaces; gas and wood-burning models
Photobucket


Ain't nothin' wrong with recycling an old classic either.....
Photobucket


Mantels can also be made in steel, lead or stainless steel creating a sleeker, bolder look
Photobucket


STUCCO FIREPLACES
Fireplaces don't need mantels or surrounds - they can also have masonry fronts like these
Photobucket


STONE FIREPLACES
One of the most beautiful materials for a fireplace; it's cozy, casual and feels more connected with the earth.
Photobucket


ELEVATED FIREPLACES
Elevating the fireplace up to eye-level where you can see it, as in a kitchen, bath or dining area is awesome. You can also have a wood storage bin below the fireplace.
Photobucket


PREFABRICATED FIREPLACES

Photobucket
This is what $40 gets you at the craft store....


Photobucket
This is what $400 gets you at the lumber yard


THIS IS SOOO HORRIBLE - LET ME COUNT THE WAYS...
  • Too high off the floor; this should be flush to the floor or have a raised hearth which comes up to the bottom of the firebox  
  • Nasty glass bi-fold doors...they get dirty immediately...they don't work well and they look like ass! Pull them off and get a firescreen that rests on the hearth  
  • Very tinny-looking black metal construction, a total give-away that its a prefab.
  • Pure white surround and hearth, really? It's a fireplace stupid, not a laboratory - again, the give-away its fake...
  • Piece of shit wood mantel stained with beige stain? really?   Get an antique wood mantel if you want one, not one off the shelf at Home Depot. Antique mantels are readily available and add instant patina to the home. If you have to buy a mantel - paint it or faux grain it as the wood will never be pretty..it just won't.

MORE CRAPPY EXAMPLES
Photobucket
  1. The gas-fired, glassed-in corner version must have all sides closed or it wont draw. It is gas fired, but it could burn wood also if it had a hearth (re: regional fire codes)...yuk
  2. Is amazingly out of proportion as the white marble surround should be the EXACT SAME on the top and both sides, and the firebox should be flush to the floor/hearth...which means the whole thing is too high. It can burn real wood or gas logs however.
  3. This fiber-stone Baroque Rococo mantel is a tragedy itself, but conjoined with that gas-fired black metal vent-less insert is just plain nasty...this could literally sit in the middle of the floor (or the dump)
  4. This is the kind of shit that gets me crazy; a crappy fireplace insert scabbed into the wall with a Lumber Yard mantle and 12"x 12" square (off the shelf) floor tiles as the surround....

THIS IS THE PERFECTLY SCALED "PRE-FAB" FIREPLACE
Photobucket
  • The bottom of the firebox is flush with the hearth
  • The hearth is installed exactly as it should be, including the outside edge of the mantle jambs
  • Never have a center seam in a hearth, always use one or three pieces for the hearth. Check you local code before sizing the hearth as it varies from state to state
  • The "surround" should always be equal on all three sides

GAS FIREPLACES


WALL-HUNG GAS FIREPLACES
Photobucket
Wall-mounted, gas-fueled fireboxes are vented to the outdoors. They are designed to require very little wall space and can be installed almost anywhere.
I think these could be very cool if located properly.

"LINEAL" GAS FIREPLACES
Photobucket
Photobucket
Linear gas fireplaces are popping up everywhere. They can be used in just about any configuration you can imagine. They're stylish, 100% efficient and virtually maintenance free.

GAS LOGS
Photobucket
These four fireplaces are all using gas logs. I've used them many times in my own homes and installed hundreds in clients homes, they're virtually undetectable and amazingly convenient.

GAS LOG STYLES
Photobucket
Gas logs come in dozens of styles and configurations.  They're designed to look real and - they do!
I'm not crazy about the contemporary one with glass beads, but some of you with bad taste may like them so I included them.


ELECTRIC FIREPLACES
(such a thing? yes!)
Photobucket
The upper photo is of an electric fireplace that can be inserted into an existing fireplace - plug it in and voila, you have a virtual wood-burning fireplace.   I know I sound hypocritical as I've whinged on about how most fireplace inserts give me agita... but, if you have no gas service where you live and have an old unusable fireplace...why not??  They have red-hot logs, glowing embers and these "virtual flames" that bounce around - I cant explain how it's done, but it is interesting.  These can be ordered with heaters too.


DESIGNING THE RIGHT FIREPLACE FOR YOUR ROOM
This is the most important part of building or correcting a fireplace. If you have an existing one that’s more than sixty years old, chances are it’s been built and scaled well.
Photobucket
TOP PHOTO
The entire fireplace is way too small for the room. They haven't even aligned the panel-mould on the wall above with it. That huge-ass shelf set as the mantle is totally top-heavy...otherwise it's a nice room....
BOTTOM PHOTO
These people clearly have something they wanna make apparent....big money or small penis....
This behemoth form-stone mantle in this newly-built home is ridiculously sized - and it looks as if its right off the cement factory floor as it's so crispy clean....  An antique mantel - which this tries to emulate - would be heavily distressed with a lovely patina, then the massive scale would be forgiven.   The black lintel over the firebox is too heavy for the two skinny side legs and polished black granite is just soooo wrong!


GETTING THE PROPORTIONS OF THE "SURROUND" CORRECT

The fireplaces below have perfectly scaled "surrounds"
which is the the stone/tile/brick surface which faces the room, inside the mantel itself.
The proper formula is the top and sides should almost always be the same width on all three sides.
Photobucket

Photobucket

English style mantels, whether wood or stone almost always have surrounds.

Early French stone mantels almost never had surrounds - the firebox began directly at the jamb as shown below.
Photobucket


MANY MATERIALS CAN BE USED AS FIREPLACE SURROUNDS
Photobucket




TILED FIREPLACES


Photobucket
Whether it's the surround or the entire fireplace, tile can help create a beautiful fireplace.

This below is NOT the way to do a tile fireplace, everrrrr....
Photobucket



THE LEXICON OF THE FIREPLACE
THE "FRENCH" STYLE
Photobucket


THE "ENGLISH" STYLE
Photobucket


FIREBOX INTERIORS
Photobucket
  1. Pink firebrick in standard size, installed in running-bond, or brick-stack pattern
  2. Clay firebrick in narrow size, installed in herring-bone pattern
  3. Standard size yellow firebrick in standard liner pattern (bad!)
  4. Solid natural stones installed to create firebox (awesome!)
  5. Brown firebrick in narrow size, installed in herring-bone pattern
  6. Stucco interior (check local codes and regulations) very nice, old world look

NEW FIREBOX TECHNOLOGY
Photobucket
The above fireboxes are "prefabricated" rough-in units delivered to the site with the brick lining as shown, they are lighter and easier to use, require less foundation work and are scientifically designed to draw better and last longer than any type fireplace. The contractor simply installs the fire-box and aluminum chimney when building the new fireplace wall;  it's then finished on the exterior and interior to be whatever you want.


OUTFITTING YOUR FIREPLACE

ANDIRONS
Photobucket


FRENCH CHENET'S
Photobucket
Designed to sit in front of a fire-grate

GLASS FIRESCREENS  
(My Favorite!)
Photobucket


TRI-FOLD FIRESCREENS
Photobucket
These aren't expensive, they can even be bought at Target or Home Depot. Don't buy one with any polished metal accents.... black only!

CUSTOM FITTED SOLID GLASS DOORS
Photobucket
This is the best configuration if you want glass doors - two side-hinged doors - NOT  bi-fold.
(notice the cloudy film on the doors on the right-hand side, that is a persistent, unavoidable problem)


CUSTOM FITTED MESH FIRE SCREENS
Photobucket


FIRE FENDERS
Photobucket
A practical invention which keeps a renegade log from rolling out and onto your floor and starting a fire. They also contain - literally and visually - the dirt and crap that tends to surround an active fireplace. The very bottom image is of a "Club Fender" with an upholstered top for sitting and warming yourself. All of these are quite passed their time now, but can look appropriate in homes older than 100 years.


FIREBACKS
Photobucket
With a fireback positioned in your fireplace, a portion of the heat which is normally lost, is reflected back into the room. In effect, the fireback functions as a heat radiator, increasing the efficiency of your fireplace by as much as 50%.    An added, and often overlooked bonus of a fireback is that it permits the use of more attractive materials to line the firebox. White stucco, old paving bricks, stone, etc. can be specified in new construction.


HOW TO MEASURE YOUR FIREPLACE FOR SCREENS, GAS LOGS, GRATES, ANDIRONS, ETC.
Photobucket



UNUSABLE FIREPLACES

THERE ARE ALWAYS FIREPLACES IN OLD HOMES THAT JUST WON'T WORK!
Photobucket
Stage them for fun, or to look as if they're working fireplaces - just don't put candles in it and think its "pretty"- it's really, really not.


Photobucket
I LOVE THIS VIGNETTE WITH THE TABOURET'S AND LOG BUCKET, IT MAKES THIS DEFUNCT FIREPLACE APPEAR AS IF IT WORKS



AND THEN THERE'S FIREPLACES THAT DON'T WORK AND SHOULD BE COVERED UP WITH WALLBOARD 'CAUSE THEY'RE NASTY!
Photobucket


AND NOW,  MY FAVORITE FIREPLACES
Photobucket
(Source: unknown)



Photobucket
(Designer: Gil Shafer)



Photobucket
(Hampton's Designer Showhouse)


Photobucket
(Source: Unknown)

Photobucket
(LeFevre Interiors, Belgium)


LINKS TO INFORMATION & RESOURCES

THE DESIGN WORLDS FAVORITE MANTEL RESOURCE

THE BEST GAS LOGS MANUFACTURER!

COAL BASKET GAS LOGS AND SUPPLY

"LINEAR DESIGN" GAS FIREPLACES

CONTEMPORARY GAS & WOOD FIREPLACES

CONTEMPORARY WALL-HUNG GAS FIREPLACES

ELECTRIC FIREPLACE INSERTS

CHIMNEY CLEANING ADVICE

PREFABRICATED FIREBOXES (the good kind!)

PREFABRICATED FIREBOXES, #2


You can do it, I'm here to help!