The Mountain Fixer: Master Fireplace I Design, You Decide
Hi, folks! Velinda here again.
You guys were so welcoming of me and supportive of my first blog post (remember the master bedroom closet design?) a couple weeks ago (thank you!). Today, I’m back with an I Design, You Decide for the master bedroom fireplace and…I may just be risking all those good graces and possibly enduring some name-calling, which could be deserved (keep reading). Option 2—my favorite—is a bit different and I’m pretty sure you’ll either love it or hate it. If you love it, can you help me and Emily convince Brian it’s a risk worth taking? Or maybe it’s a terrible prospect, I have my own doubts. So luckily, you get to decide. I love I Design, You Decide projects because, ultimately, we can just blame you. Cool? Here we go…
Remember, this wasn’t originally a master bedroom, but an upstairs living area that looked like this:
And here’s the current plan for the space:
The fireplace we are using is the . It’s a see-through fireplace, so there’s both an interior and exterior side. Here’s the inside as of now:
Now, don’t tell Emily I told you this, but fireplaces have become the Achilles heel of the EHD design team. Between the Mountain Fixer and Portland Project, we easily have 365 concept drawings to donate, should any of you be making a daily calendar for a fireplace fanatic friend (what a gift!). One thing we’ve learned after so many “try this/try that”s is that we prefer them simple.
For this room, given that we plan to have a cozy chair in the adjacent corner, we deemed a bench unnecessary which really keeps things sleek. Plus, we didn’t want to crowd the floorspace around the bed. So for the first option, we found inspiration from these clean, not-overly-fussy fireplaces:
Now, most of those shown above (except for one) have that shelf we mentioned we were skipping, so here’s what this concept looks like in our master:
Not award-winningly original, but certainly pretty. Our only concern here is that the slanted line (due to the slope of the ceiling) might feel odd. I think it’s fine, though. You? Drawing the eye all the way up to that gorgeous wood cladding/sky view seemed like a good thing. Plus, vertical lines add drama, especially at that height, which helps keep it from being too bland.
Brian loves the light color. He’s a fan of having this fireplace “disappear” and feels it doesn’t need “a moment.” He makes valid points. It’s definitely the less risky option and in a handmade, stacked tile would be lovely. But you’ll notice white isn’t one of your choices. Stay tuned for why…the third act gets truly heated (get it?)!
Okay, moving on to the more “daring” Option 2, which I conjured immediately after completing the closet design. Feeding off of the same, slightly more Nordic-industrial feel, it isn’t like any fireplace I’d seen Emily jump up and down over before (a real fireplace-fanatic, that one). But my thought was that this is a Scandi-modern-cozy-refined-something-something mountain house! Where else can we play with something so stylized and different? BRIAN!? Let us plaaaayyy!
Can I just tell you how terrifying it is to be six months out of design school and pushing Emily, the seasoned designer, to take approaches she could end up HATING…or ending a marriage over (Team Paint/Reclad the Ceiling – over here). 86% chance my name appears on Emily and Brian’s future divorce papers with 79% chance I’m jobless after this project. This fireplace is worth the risk.
But here’s the idea:
And here’s what this idea could look like in our space:
Steering away somewhat from the iron seen in many of the inspiration images, this concept would be a bit less cold thanks to a softer, charcoal brick/tile. But the top, flue and firebox opening would be steel to echo the framing of the closet windows. See, it just fits! Or you hate it! I’m sure you’ll let me know. We should probably practice our “I vs You” statements so this doesn’t get ugly (I’m married to a therapist-in-training, so getting pretty good!)
So, we had your two options! Ready for the big twist?
I hope the appropriate Superzoom sound effects are playing in your head right now.
Because we didn’t recess the firebox completely, the gas supply was exposed instead of hidden inside walls. We didn’t recess it originally because we thought a flush mount might feel too modern for the space, we didn’t want the box jutting further onto the limited space of the deck on the opposite side. And thanks to the timing of a vital inspection, we had to make the decision of where to place the firebox before ever having a design. Now, to hide the line, additional framing would be required in an already narrow space, which means really crowding the windows and feeling cramped.
Our immediate solution was to give in to the idea of a flush fireplace – so the gas-line would be hidden in the wall. But redoing the work would have cost thousands in labor and would mean occupying our crew with a redo when there are SO MANY other projects still to be done.
Then these inspirations came along:
What if we just embraced the close proximity of the fireplace to the windows by widening the design to go all the way to them? Then, by carrying the same design inside and out, the design could behave like the single unit it is. The added depth of this now larger unit could help balance things out. Here are our concerns (and why we lost white as an option):
- These inspiration images have floor-to-ceiling windows. Our windows wouldn’t reveal as much of the design on the other side. Will it still feel balanced?
- We aren’t using window trim inside, so no problem butting up to the window’s line. But outside, it would mean no trim or partial trim or something we have yet to figure out…it could be awkward in context to the rest of the house. (Since the exterior is all one color, would that detail just disappear?)
- If we went with white inside, it would mean white outside, which would be a pretty jarring contrast to the exterior’s monochromatic, dark paint.
So, we lost white as an option. We’d still keep a lighter hue, just something that might work a bit better both inside and out. For now, we have made the renderings a bit more of a greenish-gray, but the specific tile is TBD.
Emily, happy enough with this solution and the idea that she wouldn’t have to bleed more money to reinstall proclaimed at one point “I guess we kill the second option and just do this.”
Nooooooo…Grace, Julie and I (all Option 2 enthusiasts) started grieving the loss. And the death of an I Design, You Decide. We burst into tears, called our moms/pastors/therapists.
But WAIT…what’s wrong with the gas line showing in Option 2? It already has an exposed flue. It’s already a bit industrial. And it’d just be a small, black tube that would mostly disappear into dark tile anyway. Screw the extra framing, let’s leave it. (This is where I expect to lose your good graces… too ugly?) Ultimately, Emily was down and Brian agreed to leave it up to you guys, so Option 2 LIVES (and now looks like this):
And now it’s up to you…SO VOTE! I honestly can’t wait to see if you’re excited to see something different or if you think Option 2 is ugly-trash-nonsense. Do you prefer to play it safe? Recall, this is only my second post, so I’m going to ask you to remember those ‘”I vs You” statements. Let’s practice:
Not Nice: You are ruining the whole project by leaving that gas line exposed and your use of charcoal tile looks like a black eye…which is what you deserve for your nerve-grading use of metal. The only flue you should be in charge of is the stomach flu, because your design makes me sick.
Nice: I feel eye-violated when I encounter exposed plumbing and it would be helpful to me to see this kind of exposure being punished by law/job loss. I am experiencing a let down because I believe I would have done a better job while drunk and blindfolded.
***Emily here. I’m voting for #2 with conviction, mostly because of one statement that Velinda made – “When are you going to get a chance to design and shoot this style of fireplace again? The floor to ceiling tile is fairly standard and certainly safe. But this is your chance’. That sounded like a double dare and with her and the design team working out the details I’M ALL FOR IT.
Thanks, friends! Now vote.
There’s been an audience MUTINY and as a result, option two will VERY LIKELY be all metal. It was metal in the original design, but was thought to be too scary. But thanks to you guys’ push to be bold, Option 2 now looks something like this (I’m thrilled, Emily is excited. Let’s all ‘pray’ for Brian 😉 A vote for 2, is a vote for steel! :
I Design, You Decide
Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂
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