“one of the elements competing for origin-of-architecture status” – Rem Koolhaas
Warmth and light, a place to gather around as a family, a visual focal point, a snug space – nothing says home like a fireplace. However, many modern applications of a fireplace essentially create an undressed hole in the wall adding fire, more comparable to a picture than an architectural element; they are missing the opportunity of shaping the space and making the most of this wonderful part of the home.
Below are five ideas worth considering when thinking of a fireplace and its space generating potential in a home.
1. Create a seat – Extending the hearth to wrap around the wall and create a bench; in this case creating a designated reading area divided from the kitchen below and defining a space in its own. The built in log storage and a step define the boundary of the place.
2. Shift the focal point – Designing the fireplace with a small tilt in one direction, makes it feel like it’s ‘turning away’ from the kitchen, opening up and facing another space, the living room. Thus the focal point of the house shifts, rather than facing straight up against the flat wall it helps in defining spaces in a subtle way.
3. Double up – A double-sided fireplace opens to both kitchen and living room, connects the spaces and at the same time provides a different atmosphere to each part of the house.
4. Make use of the ‘in-between space’ – A ‘dead’ zone which, in this case, the way downstairs towards the kitchen, becomes a defined cosy seating arrangement in its own right, thanks to a feature fireplace.
5. Replace the TV – Nothing beats watching the dancing flames. Make it all about the fire, the main feature in the room; in this case, combined with the large skylight, the effect is even more dramatic, providing a feeling reminiscent of seating around a camp fire.
This guide is suitable for anyone requiring consent from the local council to alter a home. It reviews the ins and outs of UK planning and strategies for successfully navigating it, based on our own experience.