When decorating a great room, dining room, or home office, many people emphasize the room’s fireplace through furniture placement and forget all of the other design factors that are a crucial aspect for creating an eye-catching focal point within the room. To make a room impactful, it’s important to position the fireplace as a centerpiece within the space by utilizing complementary materials, colors, and correct proportions to elevate its design. We’ve helped our clients transform their homes by taking a fireplace from being a fixture within a room to becoming the true centerpiece of the space.
Before tackling a fireplace renovation project, you should determine the room’s style. This can be done based on the existing architecture of a home, as well as the style that you’re aiming for within the home. If you’re particularly drawn to a specific style, you still need to determine how you’ll portray that style in your space given the layout, concrete designs, and architecture of your home. Just because you’re drawn to a certain style, doesn’t mean that it will be easy to translate within your home. Making sure the design you’re attempting to achieve aligns with the home’s structural design is a key part of any home renovation project.
The next major consideration during a fireplace renovation is determining whether or not you want your fireplace to have a mantle. There are several factors to be taken into consideration when making this decision, such as how you plan to decorate for the holidays, where you’ll place the tv in the room, building codes, and whether or not you’ll want a hearth. If you’re a Christmas traditionalist who relishes the memories of hanging stockings by the chimney, then you’ll likely want to plan your fireplace around including a mantle. Will you want to mount a TV above your fireplace?
In order to fully enjoy the TV, ensure it isn’t mounted too high to be easily visible when seated, but high enough that it isn’t too close to the firebox.
The general rule of thumb is that if your mantel is less than four feet from the floor, you should mount your TV about 12 inches above it. This rule applies to fireplaces without a mantel as well, so aim for 5 feet from the floor and 6 inches to one foot about the fireplace. During your fireplace renovation, make sure you include a power outlet and cable hookup behind where the TV will be located. This keeps all of the TV components hidden behind the mounted TV. Finally, you’ll need to decide the type of hearth, which is the floor of the fireplace that often extends a short distance into the room itself. This is typically predetermined by the type of firebox heating method but still allows for some level of customization. Once those structural decisions have been made, you’re ready to move on to the design aspects of a fireplace that elevates it to a focal point.
Creating a focal point
Taking a fireplace from being a permanent structure in a room to an attention-grabbing focal point requires attention to detail, and the ability to develop a hierarchy between the fireplace and its surroundings. This is achieved by leveraging the materials, colors, surroundings, and proportions.
Whether you realize it or not, your home’s architecture is already balanced proportionally through features like doorways, ceiling height, and windows. Therefore, when you’re updating your fireplace, you want to take into account your home’s current proportions before deciding on new fireplace proportions. Several factors will help determine the ideal dimension for the fireplace within a space:
- Size of the room
- Personal design considerations (such as a mantle or no mantle)
- Materials used
If you don’t feel comfortable making the decisions on these different aspects of a fireplace, we always recommend seeking professional guidance. Design and installation professionals can help not only make sure your fireplace is visually appealing and blends with the rest of your home, but also ensure it’s safe and well-constructed.
Material + Color
Stone, whether natural or manufactured, is a popular material for a fireplace surround as it can bring a variety of colors, textures, and warmth to your space. Undifferentiated stones such as river stones or fieldstones are a popular choice for creating a more rustic or farmhouse-inspired design. These naturally collected stones are typically slightly altered ahead of an installation to ensure a seamless fit, but their authentic appeal provides warmth within a space. Alternatively, incorporating natural stones such as limestone or marble, which are smooth and polished, adds understated elegance. Looking for a little more drama, consider black marble or cast stone to add a little old-world glamour.
For a more inexpensive and versatile material, wood can be incorporated as a fireplace surround or mantle. This easily customizable material offers a variety of color options, as well as having the ability to be easily painted to perfectly match your home’s color scheme. Wood surrounds are typically much lighter and easier to install than alternative stone surrounds, making them one of the most popular options.
Outside of the fireplace itself, the decorations that surround it can help accentuate the room’s focal point. Consider carefully selecting decorative elements that complement the colors and textures that you’ve incorporated into the firebox and surround. Incorporating a variety of decorative touches both on the mantel and surrounding the fireplace allows for the architecture of a home to speak for itself. A few options include small trinkets, plants, books, or picture frames. By including objects that mirror the colors of the rest of the room, these pieces can help tie the entire room together while adding a personal touch.
We’ve worked with a variety of homeowners to enhance the beauty of their homes by redesigning their fireplaces or designing their new construction custom home’s fireplace area. Recently, we’ve seen trends shift towards a monolithic appearance that boasts stone, porcelain slabs, or even Venetian plaster, that extends floor to ceiling. With upscale and elaborate monolithic elements, these trends are accentuating the simple elegance of a home. Fireboxes are moving away from the extremely short and wide modern look, to being more square in scale, and are still the main focal point within a space by leveraging and developing a hierarchy between all of the design considerations, materials, proportions, and surroundings.
Feel like your fireplace isn’t catching the attention it deserves, or need help with a fireplace renovation project? Tran + Thomas Design Studio has worked with homeowners to do everything from rearranging / redecorating to accentuate a fireplace, to redesigning and renovating a fireplace to create a stunning centerpiece.
About Tran + Thomas
Built on the foundation of a 30-year, family-owned Interior Design business, Jill Tran and Carmen Thomas opened Tran + Thomas Design Studio in 2011 bringing a combined 36 years of experience to their projects. They work on both residential and commercial projects across several styles. Interested in their services? Call (913) 268-9595 or schedule a consultation below.