Home is Where the Hearth Is

There may not be much snow on the ground this year, but there is still a chill in the air that reminds us of one reason we love winter so much: this is the time of year that we enjoy gathering around the fireplace.

As architects and designers working in a northern climate, we have designed many custom fireplaces that occupy a prominent place in our projects. We thought it would be fun to take a look at some of our favorites:

This is one of our newest projects: a home in Stowe that was just recently completed, built by Grist Mill Builders.  The Owner’s son is an avid rockclimber and is practiving his moves on the face of the exterior fireplace at the covered patio.
This is a double-sided indoor-outdoor fireplace. On the opposite side, the fireplace faces the living room, with the same stonework rising to the exposed wood timbers at the ceiling.
The combination of stone and wood is a theme we often return to. In this next example, the stone fireplace is flanked by custom wood casework with dedicated space for firewood storage. A copper-lined box incorporated into the base of the wall provides a functional need – with logs close at hand – and becomes a prominent design feature of its own.
Sometimes it is desirable to close off the firebox opening when it is not in use. In this home in Jeffersonville, these fire doors are engineered for easy operation, and are designed to be a beautiful addition to the composition, even when closed. 
A mechanical fire gate closes off the opening with the turn of a crank handle set into the stone surround. The operation is assisted by a pulley system with concealed counterweights. The doors are faced with annealed copper, in a design that mirrors the view of the mountain range visible from this Great Room.
Not all of the residential fireplaces we design consist of a traditional stone surround. This is one residence that was recently mentioned on the popular website for the contemporary wood stove that terminates the main living space:

The author noted the location of this fireplace within the seating arrangement and pointed out that we made the modern stove the focal point of the living area by centering it, creating a dark, dramatic wall shield and flanking it with bookshelves.

Whether traditional, contemporary, or Classic Vermont, these fireplaces all serve as the heart of the home. But the fireplace is not confined to our residential work. Come back tomorrow and we’ll continue this winter theme with a look at some of our favorite fireplace designs in our workplace, education and resort studio projects.