Working Fireplaces

Yesterday we looked at some of our favorite fireplaces from a few of our recent residential projects. At this time of year, we are reminded that a fireplace can be both the physical and emotional center of a home, providing warmth for the building and the soul.

But our fireplace designs show up in our other studios as well: workplace, education and resort projects.
You wouldn’t normally expect to see a large custom fireplace in an office space, but at many of the workspaces we’ve designed, you would see just that. The fireplace provides an opportunity to set a company apart from the rest. It can reinforce a brand identity that – especially in Vermont – may be focused on a natural, outdoor lifestyle. Or it may simply be a way to promote more social interaction, both internally among employees but also with customers and guests.
At the Burton headquarters here in Burlington, a curved stone fireplace with an integrated tall stack of firewood is the dominant feature in the main entrance lobby, wrapping the entire side of the room. This is what guests experience when they first enter the space. The fireplace instantly sets the mood for this edgy company that fully celebrates winter.
Our biggest custom fireplace project in recent history is probably the Lake Placid Lodge. The original lodge was built in 1882 and was destroyed (ironically, by fire) in 2005. TruexCullins designed a new lodge in a style true to the original Adirondack heritage. There are 35 guest suites in the main Inn, each one with a unique stone fireplace that adds to the rustic elegance and mountain feel. Exterior fireplaces also occupy spaces around the building, at sitting areas that overlook the Lake, such as this one:
Notice the impressive stonework, all laid by hand. We were very pleased with the work of the local craftspeople on the job. Each of the fireplaces were finished with uniquely designed stone surrounds, mantles and hearths. Our design drawings –also individually crafted by hand – communicated this design intent to the builders in fairly specific detail.

The last project we want to share is a completely different aesthetic than the rustic Adirondack feel of the Lake Placid Lodge. Our Interiors department designed these fireplaces for the Portland Harbor Hotel in a soothing contemporary style befitting this oceanside property.

Six new suites were added to the hotel in a four-story contemporary wing served by a private elevator. In the Executive King Suite, the room is split into separate sitting and sleeping zones with a see-thru double-sided glass fireplace. This is a gas fireplace by Town and Country, with the “Tranquility Burner” of river rocks and white sand for a very clean and contemporary look. The fireplace is built into a custom wood casepiece of golden walnut wood paneling.

Downstairs, the in-house restaurant Eve’s on the Garden was completely reconfigured to improve service for all three meals of the day. Our design for the new dining room included the addition of another new fireplace in the center of the space. This is also a double-sided, see-thru unit, facing the entrance to the restaurant, with the main bar behind. Similar wood paneling was used at the surround, but with more traditional detailing and a nod to the nautical spirit of the Portland coast. Here, the surround is tiled with a tumbled mosaic Mexican limestone, and a replica Schooner is perched on the mantle to complete the look.

A proper fireplace does more than just provide heat. It is often the physical and indeed, spiritual center of the home (or business). A warm fire brings people together, but can also be a vehicle for personal reflection. A well-designed fireplace provides comfort, therapy and peace.