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Help adding depth and dimension to FLAT fireplace

Cyndi Vanherpe
6 months ago
last modified: 6 months ago

HELP!

I feel like I am drowning in looking at pics of fireplaces and not coming up with a potential solution. We just purchased a new home that has a vaulted ceiling in the family room/Living room and a fireplace. The fireplace is wood burning, which we like. The issue is aesthetically, it's really FLAT against the wall. It doesn't project away from the wall at all....AND it has this crazy high hearth that runs across the length of the room.

Note- these photos are listing photos and not our furniture.

We plan to get rid of the crazy hearth/plant wall...but will obviously still need some kind of hearth below the fireplace. (Because the firebox is that far off the ground.)

We will be getting rid of the textured ceiling and painting all the trim, redoing flooring etc.

We're looking for some way to give dimension and depth to the fireplace, but worry that the firebox would look strange and pushed way too far back if we don't approach the solution correctly.


Here are some pics of the CURRENT situation:






I realize I cannot do all of this, (too big, too far away from the wall) but I LOVE the look of this:



As you can tell however, this fireplace sticks out into the room quite a ways. (WHICH I LIKE)...but I just don't think I can build out the front as far as this is and still have the firebox (where the wood sits and where you make the fire) look right (notice how little depth difference there is between the surface of the black layer, the stone surrounding it and the white trim?

HELP!

Anyone have any ideas about how to rectify a really BAD flat fireplace design and use the existing firebox?

Thanks in advance!

Cyndi

Comments (20)

  • freedomplace1
    6 months ago

    For me personally, the main issue is not the mantle itself, but the look of the surround - including brass part around firebox. So I would be looking to add more wood maybe to cover that surround part or might use some Smart Tiles.


    https://lifeisbetterathome.com/2018/12/03/smart-tiles-diy-fireplace-makeover/


    There are many mantle pieces that don't extend that far out -






    and to me this is not a big issue and would not be worth tearing up the whole structure.


    I think the hearth would also look better with the surround modified, and I would just display a couple of plants.


    As far as your ceiling: I would not try to scrape off that texture. I would have it covered with sheetrock.

  • Cyndi Vanherpe
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Thanks! We're both pretty handy so looking to do something more drastic than this. We really want to bring the whole fireplace treatment up to the ceiling. instead of having it end at the mantle. The house faces water on three sides and are looking to move the whole feel away from a more 'traditional' colonial look to something that is more casual/rustic. Still struggling with the lack of dimension on how this fireplace sits flat with the wall and hoping there is something that will give it more prominence and depth from the wall.


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  • freedomplace1
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Subtracting the brass and adding wood and/or stone over what looks like a marble or marble look surround will automaticallly make it more rustic.

  • ptreckel
    6 months ago

    I suggest that you build out your current fireplace surround and mantle with stock and trim pieces. With some thought, you can completely transform it. I would try and find a finish carpenter who can do the work for you. Or you could probably manage it with some basic tools. You can add depth by layering and using molding, and adding blocking to the bottom of the mantle’s legs. You can also thicken up the mantle and even increase its width and depth in this way. And then paint it all in a lovely white paint. Replacing, of course, the tiled hearth with a marble slab and re tiling the surround.

    Cyndi Vanherpe thanked ptreckel
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    6 months ago

    Wow I love the ledge but I need to know a lot more about your style before giving any advicebut I love the fact your FP is not the elephant in the room but understaed elegance a bit on the contemporary side

    Cyndi Vanherpe thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • freedomplace1
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Patricia is correct. Understated elegance is a good way to to describe what the overall setup is with the fireplace now. What you show in your inspiration pic is not understated by any stretch and it is also not rustic. If anything it is more Country Cottage, I would say. And what @ptreckel describes is also very far from rustic, with the white painted fireplace and marble slab for hearth and tiled surround. So you need to perhaps reevaluate what your style is and what look you are really seeking to have. What you have now is rustic. I would just subtract the brass and do something different on surround, as mentioned.

  • Cyndi Vanherpe
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Thanks for all the feedback!


    Okay..so i really don't like the ledge and I really don't like how flat the fireplace is. This is not my style at all. The house was built in the 90's and this totally reflects that. I'm uploading another picture of the REAL elephant in the room that I think gives a better design context of how crazy this house is....





    The house is waterfront on a river near the chesapeake bay and has water views all around it. I think the house is suffering from a bit of an identity crisis....when it was designed, there were some very taste specific choices made by the original owners who had the house built. Not the least of which is the CRAZY atrium in the center which we plan to get rid of.....It obstructs the thing we paid so much for, the VIEWS...which are just wonderful. So maybe the fireplace is just part of that overall impression that I feel like I totally need to get rid of...bad 90's design choices....and update.


    I think this house can be transitioned with the right interior design changes to something more coastal, cottage/casual which is the direction I'd like to take it. We plan to remove the atrium and run flooring straight back through the space, move the stairs to the right (get rid of the crazy wrap around shape) and create an open dining area where the atrium currently sits. There are some structural changes to carry the load etc that need to be made, but that's another topic ;)


    Suffice it to say...the desire is to be more coastal, casual, light bright airy... Here are a couple of mood/inspo pics...









    After getting rid of the textured ceiling, I would like to put a beam in the vault and some other elements to warm up the room. Again, this image is too much...but more what I am shooting for than what is is right now...


    Hope this helps...


    My biggest conundrum with the fireplace is HOW to build out the front of it, give the surround depth, without burying the firebox too far back?? Not sure how far out I can build the surround without it looking strange?


    THanks for all ideas!

    C



  • freedomplace1
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    There is nothing "crazy" about the previous owners or the builders of this house. Clearly, you just bought the wrong house. So since you are going to need an architect (or a team of them) for the massive alterations you are planning to make, include your fireplace issues in that consultation.

  • Juli
    6 months ago

    I would want to consult with a mason about building the firebox out larger so you get that depth into the room, it may not be complicated as you're not trying to move a chimney. ??

  • plf12652
    6 months ago

    I think your vision for this house is lovely...and yes, you have major remodeling issues to address to get to that vision. You need a professional, probably an architect to get you started on that vision.....

  • msteezzy
    6 months ago

    So if I understand what you’re looking for I think you would have to rebuild the fireplace area. As in remove it, construct the depth/interest you’re looking for and then insert the fireplace in that newly constructed area. Otherwise you can build out the wall around it as is and you’ll have a fireplace box inset back into the wall.

    These pics below show how the design still creates interest even though the fireplace is ‘flat’ against the wall.

  • Cyndi Vanherpe
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Thank you Msteezy!


    Yeah that is kind of the other thought we've had...is build out from the fireplace (so it recesses back) instead of trying to bring it 'forward'. I saw a few ideas where they put window seats and millwork on both sides of the fireplace (we have windows on both sides) to give the wall dimension. We may try to explore that some more...That may enable us to leverage the relatively high fireplace threshold and bring that into proportion.


    On another note, as far as the atrium and major renovation goes, we are already working with an architect (actually the original architect) to help come up with plans to reconfigure that space and make the most of the views and interior space while supporting the load etc. We're trying to keep the expensive architectural drawing fees to a dull roar and don't want to pay for new drawings for a fireplace build out. That should be something a good carpenter can handle with a some photographs, a simple graph paper drawing etc. Hoping I can skip the architect for this one.


    @freedomplace1...we're very confident we bought the right house. Houses can be reinvisioned and take on completely different personalities with the right vision, plan and direction. :) We bought the view first and foremost because you can change a structure but you cannot change the view. Second, the neighborhood/location and third the house itself. There are always compromises...and we definitely knew going in, we'd be renovating. And on that note, we were able to capitalize financially, on the less appealing floorplan by getting the home for a reduced price, which gives us the room to make the needed updates...We are really excited to get there and make the changes we have envisioned...the views and water are just spectacular.


    Thanks all!

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    I have to agree this was not the right house for you from what you describe as your style. IMO you now need to either sell or embrace what you have . You know the sows ear . silk purse adage well it really applies here. BTM you do not start a complete overhaul of a design with a FP.

  • msteezzy
    6 months ago

    Stick around! You may get some more good insight from others (despite your first impression) and it would be really nice to see how your project turns out :)

  • tozmo1
    6 months ago

    When you speak to the architect, ask about building codes for how far out you can build the surround of the fireplace without moving the actual fireplace forward.

    For example, here is a national building code but you will need to check your local building code.

    National Standard Building Code Information

    2114.3 Masonry-built Fireplaces 4114.3.10 - All combustible mantels and similar trim shall be kept at least 6 inches from the fireplace opening. Parts of the mantel assembly located along the sides of the fireplace opening which project more than 1 1/2 inches (38mm) from the face of the fireplace shall have additional clearance equal to the projection extension beyond 1 1/2 inches. Parts of the mantel assembly located above and projecting more than 1 1/2 inches (38mm) from the fireplace opening shall not be placed less than 12 inches (305mm) from the top of the fireplace opening.


    Houzz Design Dilemma is a FREE social media site and like all social media sites, ya puts yaself out there and ya takes the hits sometimes. But, sometimes you get good info. Did I mention it was free? After going through an extensive remodel myself using architects, interior designers, and a multitude of trades people, it hurts even more when people you are paying tell you things you don't want to hear. In the end, it's your house, the only thing you have to abide by are building codes.

    Looks like a beautiful property, all the best to you!

    Cyndi Vanherpe thanked tozmo1
  • sarasvati1
    6 months ago

    I would wait and do the whole remodel at once including the fireplace rather than doing it piecemeal. That way it will all flow together and you’ll get just what you want. I like your new vision for it. You might want to get an interior designer involved as well as the architect.

  • Dee
    4 months ago

    I have a flare fireplace also and we are planning on having it recess back like you mentioned in your comment. here is a link to the 3rd pic https://pin.it/2yGQRo4

  • Pam
    4 months ago

    Cyndi, I think you should stick around if for no reason other than Houzz is a great place to get inspiration. I too am shocked at some of the responses to your simple request for ideas. I was actually shaking my head and laughing in between being stunned with the “you had no right to buy that house idiot! Why didn’t you buy a house that was 100% exactly the way you wanted it in the first place! Tsk tsk!” You’d think a whole application devoted mainly to houses (the name of the site is HOUZZ people) that some of these people would know the #1 rule in real estate. LOCATION, location, location. Any decorating/real estate magazine or TV show illustrates the concept of buying for the location, view, school district, close to work and then the owner proceeds to tear down the whole house or do renovations to get the home of their dreams. Telling you that you were wrong to buy your house because gasp you don’t like some of the features and are therefore proceeding with steps to fix the things you don’t like, should result in automatic deletion of “PRO” status and outright expulsion from this RENOVATING/DECORATING application. And yes, I’m only partly kidding. Its jaw dropping that people are giving you hell for buying a home and wanting to change some things. Have fun with the Reno. You’re home will be even better once you’re done. Cheers!

  • PRO
    Kelly Starr - Rooms With A View
    last month

    Several years ago I asked a question about paint color and Patricia chimed in and told me that something I had hanging on my wall was outdated and ugly.... I don’t remember her exact words but she was really rude and it didn’t have anything to do with my question at all... then I looked at her profile and her stuff is, in my opinion, hideous!!!! So don’t let her bother you. I stumbled on this because I am in a similar situation with a flat fireplace and was looking for advice... thanks Patricia for the expert advice on how to help a flat fireplace 🙄 did you ever figure it out????