Building and designing a house always seems to be a balancing act among time, money, and speed. If we had an unlimited budget and unlimited time, I am sure that the perfect mantel could be found. However, with groundbreaking imminent (hopefully), and a very defined budget, Suzanne (my designer) will hopefully find a fireplace that is the right scale and the right size and the right price – and available right now (or capable of being ordered).
My architect would like to select the fireplace sooner rather than later, as he likes for the opening to be scaled to the specific mantel – so the entire opening of the firebox is seen. I wasn’t sure what he meant until I saw this picture (above). Do you see how the opening of the firebox is the entire height and width of the mantel? This is one of my favorite fireplace pictures for a variety of reasons; I love the contrast of the ornate and traditional fireplace and decor with the bold and dramatic contemporary art hanging above the fireplace. I also love the soft curve of this style fireplace.
I also admire this mantel, with its gentle curves and less fussy design. This is an example of a firebox that is not sized to the mantel – which is not a bad thing, just not the look that we are going to do.
There is something about that curve in a Louis XV style mantel that really captures my heart. This mantel is much more ornate than what we are looking at, but the negative space in the firebox is so beautiful because of the curve, isn’t it? When the opening of the firebox is scaled to the mantel, the negative space of the mantle becomes just as important as the mantle itself. I can already sense a love for the fussy when it comes to mantles and chandeliers, so I am relying on Suzanne to select a mantel that is the perfect balance between classic and clean lined.
One of my all time favorite Veranda covers, featuring a beautiful mantel with an oval motif – a great way to have a bit of decoration without a lot of ornamentation. I can’t help but wish that the inside of the mantel wasn’t squared off like that, for full appreciation of the curves; of course, who is really noticing the mantel when there is a stunning Cy Twombly painting in the room?
Another one of my favorite Veranda features, a home designed by Betty Burgess, has a nice gentle curved limestone fireplace, but the lines are clean and avoid any kind of fussiness.
The living room in the same house indulges in a bit more of a fussy mantel, but I like the contrast of the clean lines in the room and the more ornate quality of the mantel and the French barometer. Suzanne says that we can go a bit more ornate in the living room given that the fireplace in the family room is going to be extremely simple; there isn’t even going to be a mantel to enable better placement of a TV.
I rarely save pictures for the fireplace, but this picture from an old real estate listing really struck me with its beautiful and softly curved limestone fireplace. It has the classic shape of a French mantel, without the overly decorated aspect sometimes seen in a French mantel.
This fireplace, although not as wide, has a similar look and feel; seen on our fireplace expedition last week. I really like this one, although it might be a bit on the small side.
This size is probably a bit bigger than what we are looking for, but I admire its wide dramatic opening. Image via Belgian Pearls.
The look of a classic curved fireplace in a simple and pared down room, with a touch of contemporary art, is a great mix. Image via Belgian Pearls.
I love this one – with a rosette instead of a shell. Shells seem to be quite common in this Louis XV style fireplaces, but I am not really a fan. Notice the beautiful pattern of the stone tiles inside the firebox – it’s a herringbone pattern done on the horizontal axis. Also note that the mantel is placed around the wall – this must be why most of the antiques I have seen have a big rectangular opening on top. Image via Cote de Texas.
This picture is so incredibly beautiful; it combines an unusually placed fireplace with those soft curves I like, a tall beautiful French door that allows the natural light to flow into the space, and one of my favorite colors, periwinkle blue. Notice how the colors of the curtains influence the color of the stone on the floor. Image via Trouvais, from La Vie en Rose by Suzanne Lowry.
I included this picture in my ‘virtual house’ because there are so many qualities about the room that I love; the tall window with light streaming in, the light palette of the room, and the soft curve of the mantel (with a mirror above, of course).
Another image from Trouvais (if you have never visited her blog, you are in for a treat – it is incredibly beautiful and one of the places I go first for visual inspiration). This is from a house in Belgium, and every room is incredibly beautiful. To see the post, click here. I love the floors and the mantel in this space – I image that this is the scale that my architect wants to find, with a wide opening.
This room was from the a Christmas showhouse a few years ago, with interiors by Suzanne Kasler. I am not sure whether the fireplace was already there, or whether Suzanne and her team selected it for the room (I suspect the former), but I loved it in the showhouse.
Here is a close up; I liked it so much that I included this image in my ‘Virtual Home 2010’. The mantel is by Francois & Company, and has the perfect combination of the curves and straight lines. Suzanne and I looked at this in the Francois showroom; if we were to go in this direction, we would order it without the ‘tabs’ in the sides, and we would make the base a bit more squared.
Last week, we went over to the design center to look at Dennis & Leen fireplaces. I love this one – this is the only picture I have seen of it in a magazine. Image via Veranda.
Here is a closer view of the mantel, although it is almost entirely obscured by the plant on the table. The tear sheet for this mantel is in my file at Suzanne’s office, but hopefully this picture conveys the feel of the piece; it is both curved and angular, both feminine and masculine. I think it is really beautiful, and is a great scale for the space. Image via Veranda.
Antique fireplaces are still in the running, but my budget is a bit more geared towards reproductions than antique mantels. However, the family room and outdoor fireplaces are going to be very, very simple, so we might be able to swing something. Suzanne and Stan would ideally like to see an antique mantel in the space, but we are going to keep on looking and see what we can turn up.
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