Custom Cabinetry and Enhancing Your Fireplace: Do’s and Dont’s from a Design Pro

At this time of year, the fireplace which is central to most homes, comes into serious focus.  We decorate it with garlands and use it to display festive ornaments and happy memories.

Who can deny the importance of the fireplace to the value of many homes.  Real estate listings always include the number of fireplaces a home enjoys.

Improving the architectural beauty of your fireplace is always a worthwhile investment.  I see many homes where the scale of the fireplace does not fit the room or the builder has done nothing to enhance the fireplace and harmonize it with the architecture of the home.  I am often called in to help homeowners design the walls flanking the fireplace and this problem is the focus of this Blog post.

#1 DO:  Invest in your Fireplace

Living room fireplace design with built ins and tiled surround with hearth
Fireplace design with new herringbone tile surround and hearth

#2 DO: Think of Creative Ways to Enhance your Fire Surround

Before we redesigned this living room featured above, the fireplace had a dull gray stone tile surround, which was leftover floor tile.  See below for the BEFORE photo.

Custom bookshelves and cabinets were designed flanking the fireplace.  The custom built ins provided much needed storage and look like they were built with the fireplace.

The fireplace itself was completely transformed by tiling the fire opening surround and hearth in a stunning herringbone tile pattern.  We chose contrasting shades of warm honey.

The tile was simply installed over the top of the old gray stone!

Fireplace before new design
BEFORE PHOTO with grey stone floor tile surround

#1 DONT:  Design your Bookcases or Cabinets so that they Overwhelm the Design of your Fireplace

The proportions of these custom bookcases were carefully designed to not overshadow the fireplace, which should always remain the focal point of the wall.

Living room luxury design with European French style
We designed these bookcases to be lower than the height of the fireplace and set back slightly

#2 DONT:  Think Custom Built ins only Work when the Fireplace is Centered on the Wall

This bookcase was built to balance the room because the fireplace was off center
This bookcase was built to balance the room because the fireplace, although the focal point of the room, was off center

 Out Dated Bookcases can be transformed into an Elegant Architectural Feature of your Living Room

We redesigned this traditional Living room in a beautiful old home, which had been modified in the 1970s to include bookcases and a fireplace.

They were totally out of character with the rest of this historic home.

Fireplace BEFORE photo

Custom bookcases and paneling surround the new fireplace which was retiled to enhance the vibrant colors in the room.  Wall sconces enhance the paneling.

A custom gas log fire was added with antique andirons to complete the design.

Traditional and classic interior design with English style for Chicago North Shore living room
The redesigned fireplace wall with custom built in bookcases
Traditional and classic fireplace and bookcase design for Chicago North Shore living room
A Custom designed brass log basket was installed for the gas fire