Chimneys evoke fond memories of families gathering on a chilly evening.
Fireplaces not only provide a warm focal point for the family, but often set the style and ambiance for the room. The mantle and surround can exude a cozy, rustic charm, amp up the interior with an ultra-contemporary vibe or radiate an elegant sophistication echoed throughout the house.
Today, fireplaces are wood-burning, gas, electric or ethanol, and vary in style from the traditional, tall and classically elegant Rumford version developed in the late 1790s, to a contemporary see-through design that makes a statement. Fireplaces are common in living rooms and bedrooms, but in many neighborhoods, it is just as common to find them outdoors, complete with a kitchen, pizza oven and view of the marsh.
A decision to add a fireplace to a home is not simple (or cheap).
The first decision to be made is if you need masonry fireplace. Perhaps a pre-fabricated, factory-built one is the right option. When masons, architects and designers tackle this project, they are crafting a cornerstone of the home, integrating an architectural feature—or “megastructure” as our friend Ryan Skrak calls it—not just installing the less expensive “metal box” that may be more efficient, but certainly not as long lasting.
“A lot of people put in a metal box, but they don’t last in the Lowcountry’s salt air,” says Skrak. Skrak is a masonry master and fireplace expert. He builds fireplaces all over the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire. “A lot of people are told that it’s stainless steel, but that’s stainless, not rust-proof. It’s going to rust and then fall apart.”
Masonry fireplaces will more than likely experience several owners over their 100-year lifespan.
Choosing a “metal box” shortens this period by 40 years. Find a purpose and personality that play well together.
Whether classic or contemporary, see-through fireplaces can be of real value, as they provide a two-for-one bonus. Dress up two rooms with a unique and stylish architectural structure, instead of just one. Consider designing them differently and rein in each room according to personal preference. Or, let the fireplace flow through both rooms cohesively.
In coastal Carolina, we enjoy oyster roasts, Lowcountry boils and backyard barbeques. A an outdoor escape isn’t complete without a fire ring, sturdy square brick fire pit or patio fireplace.
“Fire pits and fireplaces are a great extension of your home. It promotes the beautiful idea of what we call ‘outdoor living,’ ” senior landscaper at Sunshine Hardscape, Landscape & Nursery explains. “Adding a fire pit or a fireplace to your yard also adds functionality and a focal point to your landscape.”