Monday, September 28, 2009

Aesthetic Elements in Residential Fireplace Designs

Once the heating side of the equation is nailed down, it is time to address the aesthetic element. The first major decision involving the appearance in residential fireplace designs is the placement in the room. The vast majority of fireplaces are built in the center of an exterior wall, but your choices are not limited to this. You could choose to place the fireplace in a corner which is ideal for smaller homes. If your home is large enough, consider a multi-sided island fireplace. These can provide a four sided view and also radiate heat in all four directions making this a great choice for efficiency. A see through fireplace can separate two main rooms thus providing two fireplaces for the price of one. As you can see, there are choices for placement other than just the traditional placement on an outside wall and you should consider these before a final decision is made.

Next comes the most important aspect of the visual element of any fireplace. The material used to face the front of the fireplace can set the tone for the rest of your home decoration and allows for personal expression. Many homes built in the post World War II era, have the more traditional fireplaces faced with brick that matches the brick used on the exterior of the home. However, you have many choices other than brick. Some choose to just face their fireplace with smooth, painted sheet rock in order to match the walls in the rest of the room. This method can be utilized if you want the function of a fireplace but desire it to be less of a focal point. Another popular choice is stone. Some of the more dramatic fireplace designs I have seen are achieved with stone. There are many different shapes and sizes of stone and since it is a natural product, no two stones are alike thus resulting in a truly unique fireplace. Flat stone can be laid with the face of the stone exposed or with the edge exposed. If flat stones are not your style, look at the unique qualities of round stone which also make for an interesting fireplace design. In addition to stone, other natural products such as tile, marble and granite are used in many residential
fireplace designs today. As you can see, there are many good choices for materials to use in the design of an individual's fireplace.

Okay, the hard part is over. Now we just need to decide on the mantle and the type of hearth and our fireplace design will be complete. Let's first address the hearth. The fireplace hearth allows for a couple of choices. You can have the hearth and firebox level with the floor which some say seems to make the fireplace less obtrusive in a room. Or the hearth can be built up which allows a place for you to sit and enjoy the warmth of that nice roaring fire. The last thing we need is a mantle. The mantle is not only decorative but also functional. It will be a place where family pictures are displayed and of course the Christmas stocking will be hung by the chimney with care. There are as many different kinds of mantles available as there are ideas, so take your time and choose a mantle that will compliment the other design elements of your fireplace.

Now that all the features of our fireplace have been decided upon, we just need to ensure we have a brick and stone mason that is experienced with
fireplace and chimney construction. Contact your local building department and see if they can or will give you some recommendations on the best masons in your area. Otherwise, contact local builders. I am sure they will know the best of the best stone masons in your vicinity. If you take the time to research all the different fireplace elements available, you will find that residential fireplace designs are quite simple to envision and your plan will result in a fireplace you can enjoy for many years to come.

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