Friday, March 11, 2011



It’s March and winter is on its way out…we hope. This opens up an opportunity to do something wild, like stuff the fireplace with something that you don’t want to set a match to and won’t turn to ash. Using that empty hole in the wall and turning it from black to elegant can add a dimension to the room many people don’t consider. Here are a few ideas we’ve seen where the blaze in the hearth has been lit by a different type of beauty.

When the flue’s been closed, the outside temperature is hovering around ninety and the hearth’s been cleaned but you want to light a romantic flame, think about this. Fill the fireplace with candles and let the real heat come from what’s happening in front of the hearth.
(midcenturyjo's photostream on flickr for Australian Vogue Living)

I’m not trying to channel the book burners of yore but here’s a solution by Dave Coote Design for what to do with your overflow book collection. Using the fire box as an extension of your library can be a beautiful way of showing off your J.D. Salinger and Vladimir Nabokov collection.

If you’ve got a green thumb let it shine in the hearth. Springtime is filled with flowers and that means it’s time to throw out the plastic lilies and put a pot of real ones in that closed up winter fire box.

An unused warm weather hearth can be the perfect place to display a collection, in this case it’s game balls: croquet balls, pool balls, bacci balls. Whatever you have a passion to collect and you can fit in your fire box, put it in and show it off.

If tradition is your firewall and you can’t get past seeing a fireplace as anything else other than a fireplace then stack it with wood, but do it creatively


Chimney Breast Wall
When your fireplace stands proud from the wall, jutting out into the room instead of being flush with the wall, that little push away from the wall is called the chimney breast – much like the prow of a woman.
Here are some examples of chimney breasts dressed and gussied up standing proud of the rest of their bodies without the use of silicone.

How to wallpaper a chimney breast
Ideal Home

Milwaukee co-op
Rick Shaver
Shaver/Melahn Studios

When winter’s gone and the last fire in the hearth has been extinguished for the season or if your room didn’t have a fire focal point to begin with than here are some suggestions for what you can do to create an eye-catcher in your room.
When you walk into a room you’ve not been in before there’s nothing more noticeable then the lack of anything of interest. So many homeowners having purchased the fundamentals for a room fall into despair when their space still seems lifeless and uninviting. 9 to 10 the sofa, the lounger, the table the tv sits on, the end tables and lamps all end up no more than four and a half feet off the floor. It’s as if some one drew a line midway between the floor and ceiling and told the world not to decorate above that demarcation. Well it’s time to erase that line and boldly go where many fear to tread. Let’s tackle that space above the sofa and create some personality on those walls.

Artwork is the most obvious choice to draw the eye to that neglected area known as the upper wall. The possibilities are endless from vintage paintings to photography to work the kids did in kindergarten finger painting. The trick here is scale. If you have a huge wall don’t put a family snapshot there and call it complete. Find something large enough to be in scale with the furniture and the amount of wall space or do a collection of images. If you’re going to do a collection make sure you hang them close together so they work as a unit. We usually hang things from one inch to three inches apart unless the pieces are huge and can carry a more open arrangement. To be safe, the tighter the better. Here's what we did for a client in Tribeca.

Hang a found object on the wall. There are so many pieces you can find rejected by others but with great graphic potential, an old iron gate, a Victorian headboard, old industrial gears. One person’s junk can be another person’s treasure. This one is thanks to the Bachman's Spring Ideas House in Minneapolis.
Add a shelf and display your vintage collection, or fill the wall with old books and bits and pieces of nature you can find just outside your door. At the Fredericksburg home of Janet and Tom Proch the entry wall is decorated with family memorabilia, preserved leaves and pieces of nature their family collected from right outside their home. Try to find pieces of different sizes that will give your focal wall variety and lead your guests to a greater appreciation of your taste and talent.

Masatomo Kuriya
Peony (#114) 1997
Represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery, NYC


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