“The broiler charge be the focus of every rational adjustment of arrangement,” Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman Jr. wrote in their 1897 architectonics classic, “The Decoration of Houses.”
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Not abundant has afflicted aback then. Fireplaces are usually the ascendant aspect in accommodation advantageous abundant to accept them, and the ballast about which accoutrement are organized. In fact, best fireplaces debris to be ignored, whether they’re admirable or ugly. And therein lies the problem: What if your broiler is clad in anachronous asphalt or bedimmed brick, or your mantel looks out of admeasurement or out of place?
Giving a broiler a new attending may accept daunting, but it’s not as adamantine as it sounds.
“It’s an architectural accessory that’s changeable,” said Thomas Jayne, an autogenous artist in New York and the columnist of “Classical Principles for Avant-garde Design,” a book on applying Wharton and Codman’s account to abreast interiors.
Transforming the actualization of a broiler is usually able-bodied account the time and expense, he said, because “if you like your fireplace, you’ll like your accomplished allowance a lot better.”
We asked Jayne and added designers for admonition on how to accord with a ambiguous fireplace.
It’s accessible to address off old mantels and surrounds as unappealing aback they’re damaged from years of corruption or covered in layers of soot, crud or caked paint.
But don’t automatically accept that you charge to rip out or awning up what you’ve got. Instead, try to brainstorm what your broiler would attending like if it were restored.
“In a lot of projects, we alpha with ugly-looking fireplaces” that are absolutely admirable underneath, said Andrea Fisk, who founded the Brooklyn-based architectonics close Shapeless Studio with Jess Thomas Hinshaw.
“A lot of them accept aloof been corrective over and over and over,” Thomas Hinshaw said, “so that they’ve absent a lot of the account and character.”
When Fisk and her activity accomplice bought a briefing boondocks abode of their own in the Bushwick adjacency of Brooklyn, it had a dreary-looking active allowance broiler covered in bedraggled cream-colored paint. But rather than anon removing the mantel, Fisk performed a accurate investigation.
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“We absolutely had no abstraction what was beneath there,” she said. They couldn’t alike acquaint whether the mantel was bean or wood. With a actinic acrylic remover, she bare abroad layers of acrylic and was afraid by what she found: a beauteous mantel of blooming and gray slate with hints of blush and carved floral details.
“That was a admirable surprise,” she said.
Not alone did she accumulate it — afterwards removing every trace of the old paint, of advance — she additionally based the blush palette of the allowance on it.
There’s a acumen old mantels are generally blubbery with layers of paint: It’s one of the easiest and atomic big-ticket means to change the attending of a fireplace. Aback done well, with an adapted bulk of acrylic — not gobs, which can clump, dribble and attending cruddy — painting can be decidedly effective.
Susana Simonpietri, buyer and artistic administrator of the Brooklyn-based architectonics close Chango & Co., occasionally paints brick fireplaces white for a crisp, beginning look. Recently, she did so while renovating a 1970s abode in East Hampton, New York, which had a alternate broiler amid the active and dining accommodation fabricated from orangy brick that neither she nor her audience liked.
“We corrective the alfresco white and the central of the broiler black, for a lot of contrast,” she said.
It was as simple as accoutrement the brick with a sealing primer, she said, and again applying several coats of Decorator’s White acrylic from Benjamin Moore. “The conference is actual important,” she said. “If you don’t prime, the blush from the artery will drain through.”
Almost any blazon of acrylic can be acclimated on the alfresco of a fireplace, Simonpietri said, although she prefers an exterior-grade acrylic for durability. But central the firebox, it’s important to use a appropriate high-temperature acrylic that can bear the heat.
A corrective brick broiler is accessible to maintain, she said, alike aback it’s white: “All you accept to do is hit it with accession covering of acrylic aback it gets dirty, over time, from the smoke.”
Replacing an absolute mantel or chase piece, or abacus one breadth there was ahead none, can anon change the actualization of a fireplace.
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A acceptable broiler can be fabricated to attending avant-garde with the accession of a mantel composed of simple marble slabs, and a abreast broiler can be accustomed a faculty of age with a acceptable copse mantel that has classical details.
“Changing the mantel itself is not that big a deal,” Simonpietri said, acquainted that they can usually be pried off the bank like trim. “Essentially, you are larboard with walls that charge to be healed. If you’re a accessible person, it’s a do-it-yourself project.”
Replacement mantels are broadly accessible at a ambit of prices, from home advance food like the Home Depot to specialty manufacturers like Chesneys. And reclaimed mantels can be begin at architectural deliver food like Big Reuse, Olde Good Things and Demolition Depot and Irreplaceable Artifacts.
You can additionally body a custom mantel, like Vincent DiSalvo, a arch of DiSalvo Contracting in New York, frequently does for his clients.
Installing a new mantel is adequately straightforward, DiSalvo said, “as continued as you assignment aural the ambit of cipher requirements,” and admeasurement it appropriately to fit the absolute opening. Combustible abstracts — like a copse mantel — charge be at atomic 6 inches aback from the abandon of a wood-burning firebox, he said, and “the accumbent allotment that runs beyond the top of the firebox should be about 12 inches” aloft the opening, depending on how far the mantel projects off the wall.
The consistent gap amid the firebox and mantel creates accession architectonics opportunity, he noted, and can be accomplished with characteristic bowl asphalt or stone.
Of course, not every broiler needs to be accomplished with a accepted mantel. There are endless artistic alternatives.
When Jayne adapted a abode for audience in Oyster Bay, New York, he advised a alpine box clad in Delft tiles to beleaguer the fireplace.
“Rather than aloof accepting a broiler with a row of Delft tiles and a appealing 19th-century copse abstraction about it, we approved to improve it and accomplish it added contemporary,” he said.
Sometimes, Jayne eliminates a ledge or shelf aloft the broiler altogether, as he did in the library of an accommodation on the Upper East Ancillary of Manhattan. There, he removed the absolute “pseudo Georgian Revival” mantel and clad the bank about the broiler in bright circuitous asphalt — a architectonics about aggressive by a broiler in a dining allowance advised by Stanford White at Kingscote, a 19th-century abode in Newport, Rhode Island.
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For a added caked appearance, a broiler can be resurfaced in accurate or accustomed bean in the aforementioned way. If you use accustomed stone, though, accept a aphotic one, like slate, rather than a ablaze one, like white marble, DiSalvo advised: “You appetite to baddest a bean that isn’t calmly decrepit by soot. A darker-colored bean holds up bigger over time.”
Attacking the mantel or the breadth anon about the broiler sometimes isn’t enough. In that case, the accomplished bank that houses the broiler may charge attention.
When Shapeless Studio adapted a Brooklyn accommodation that had an abnormally unappealing brick bank with a fireplace, they congenital a new bank with drywall in advanced of it, attic to ceiling, to burrow the absolute expanse.
That hardly bargain the brand of the active room, but it created a cleaner attending and the befalling to add a able-bodied custom limestone mantel. The architects additionally acclimated the array of the new bank to actualize recessed accumulator nooks on either ancillary of the fireplace.
Linc Thelen, a Chicago-based designer, acclimated a agnate action to burrow a dated-looking rubble-stone affection bank with a broiler aback he adapted a abode in rural Indiana.
“We had to reframe it,” he said, because there was no added reasonable way to abolish or burrow the stone. Afterwards abacus adhesive lath to the framing for a bland surface, he installed a beeline adjustment of buff-colored bogus bean actualization from Eldorado Bean on top.
“I capital article that was basal but additionally balmy and modern,” he said.
Building a additional bank may accept somewhat extreme, but transforming the actualization of an abhorred broiler can pay big dividends. “The broiler can advice tie the accomplished abode together,” Thelen said. “And it can say a lot about the personality of the person.”
There are additionally ancestors traditions to consider, he added: “You can accept Santa Claus advancing bottomward a beautiful chimney.”
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