In my last post I showed off a work-in-progress in my shop: custom cabinets to house a ventless fireplace. The design was based on a hybrid of Craftsman and Shaker styles, in cherry and walnut wood.
They've been installed, and boy did they turn out well! But before I show them off, take a look at what they replaced.
The homeowners have great taste, and they'd assembled some really nice pieces. (I suspect that chair on the left was handmade, and I really like it!) However, they faced a common problem: they'd collected their furniture to go in other houses, and it didn't fit well in their new abode in West Asheville. The cabinet that housed the TV was made for an older model, and it was really too tall, narrow and deep to fit well into the room.
We worked with them to design a new hearth which was lower, wider and shallower... a perfect fit to balance the room.
I started by installing the three cabinets which I'd made offsite, with the hearth in the middle. The wall already had electrical outlets in place, so I cut holes in the backs of the cabinets to allow the homeowners to use the outlets.
Next up was the installation of those Craftsman tiles which we teased in our last post. These are from Pasadena Craftsman Tile, and they're incredible! They really picked up the colors in the homeowners' painting.
While the grout was setting, I put the doors on the AV cabinets. They've got heavy-duty hinges that open extra wide, so that when you want to watch TV the doors are well out of the way. Perfect for an entertainment center.
By the way, did I mention how incredible the wood grain is on these cabinets? I picked the wood by hand from Bee Tree Lumber in East Asheville, and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. You mostly see the cherry in this photo, but check out that purple walnut in the lower corner of the pic! It's still one of my favorite woods.
Once the tile had set, it was time to install the ventless fireplace...
... and then caulk the piece in place so that it looks like a continuous part of the room.
The finished piece really brings the room together. It looks like it belongs there. Which of course, it does, since it was designed with this particular room in mind.
Every living room should have a hearth for people to gather around... and a place to hide the TV somewhere nearby. And nowadays you can have a fireplace even if you don't have a chimney. Give us a call to learn all about it.
Asheville is the kind of city where a fireplace is a delight to have. It's hard to remember it right now in summertime, but those cool mountain spring evenings and crisp autumn nights are perfect for a little fire to take the chill out of the air.
But what if your floor plan is too small to add a hearth, or you live in a condo and can't install a chimney? That's where the new trend of ventless fireplaces comes into play. There's a wide variety of them, including electric, gas, gel and ethanol. Someday maybe I'll devote a whole post to the various options, but today I want to show off a new cabinet we're building to house an ethanol fireplace.
I'll start with our 3D model:
Our customers had always wanted a hearth in their living room, not so much for the heat output, but more as a visual centerpiece. However, they didn't want the added complexity of putting up a chimney or getting a new outlet for an electric fireplace. Plus, the floor plan of their living room was fairly small, so they didn't have room for a big stone chimney.
We talked about various options, such as just making a nook for candles, but in the end we found an ethanol burning fireplace that was fairly shallow and wouldn't need a deep cabinet to house it.
Then it was time to discuss design features. The homeowners loved the Craftsman aesthetic, and already had little details throughout their home such as tile inset in the doorway trim. But they also wanted something a little lighter and more updated than the original Arts and Crafts style.
They also liked the combination of walnut and cherrywood... they even mentioned this free-standing entertainment center from our Lyrical Furniture Collection.
You really can't go wrong when you're putting walnut and cherry together, and that was the starting point for the design.
They had also sent us various inspiration photos of Craftsman-style fireplaces that they liked, including this one from Pasadena Tile. I love this tile! I was thrilled when my clients suggested using something like this around the fireplace opening.
There were also lots of little details to discuss. The cabinets around the fireplace will house their TV and audiovisual equipment, so they requested speaker holes on the cabinet as well. Faith, our cabinet designer, took inspiration from old-fashioned radios like this one.
We originally planned a somewhat more elaborate mantel with Craftsman-style brackets in walnut. However, our clients preferred a simpler, streamlined verson more in keeping with the Shaker-style cabinets in their kitchen.
Since the mantel would be much simpler, they suggested we add interest with ribboned wood grain. I called several Asheville lumber suppliers in search of the right pieces, and finally struck gold at Bee Tree Lumber.
Bee Tree has very personalized service, and an incredible selection of gorgeous hardwood lumber. The office manager took me on a personal tour of the lumber yard, and the owner came over to talk about the wood I was picking out.
He pointed to one board and said, "That sure is some fiery cherry you picked out." And he's right... the ribboning is like little flames licking up the board. It's perfect for a mantel, isn't it?
It looks incredible on the new fireplace!
But behind that beautiful facade is a very practical design. Although the fireplace manufacturer says it can be installed directly in a niche in the wall, I took no chances when building the fireplace surround. The fireplace will be set into a heat-resistant concrete-board niche which in turn is supported by metal studs.
Next I built the cabinets to go on either side of the fireplace, complete with the afore-mentioned speaker holes.
Notice the little detail of the curved feet... one of those nice touches that sets this apart from standard cabinetry.
The cherrywood cabinet boxes are assembled, and as I type this, the walnut doors are clamped up and the glue is drying. There are a few more details to finish, though. Including one very special feature which I'll talk about in my next post...
That beautiful handmade Craftsman tile!
Subscribe to our email list to get notified about the next post... and in the meantime, if you've always wanted a fireplace but weren't sure how to get one, give us a call. We'll make it happen.
... ESPECIALLY if you already love white rooms.
But before I show it off, allow me a quick comment. In the past decade or so we've seen a lot of people paint their furniture, especially those who prefer airy, contemporary rooms in a neutral palette. And don't get me wrong... I love painted furniture and some of my favorite projects have been painted plain white.
But dark, rich brown wood has its place in light-colored rooms. It makes a beautiful foil against the white walls, and it can have complex grains which bring texture and interest to what would otherwise be a bland space.
Walnut is one of my favorite dark woods. It's got a chocolatey purple undertone and a grain pattern which, while subtle compared to oak, can often include arched patterns that add an Art Deco touch.
Case in point: our latest project.
A custom built-in AV cabinet in a bright, contemporary living room.
Or do you like it better without doors?
It's really hard to capture the beauty of this wood in a photograph, because grain patterns move with the light. They glimmer and shimmer.
But here's my best attempt:
There's a satiny ribbon effect that really catches the eye.
By the way, the shelves are adjustable in height to allow you to store larger items like stereo equipment or a hidden TV. I love the versatility of this piece. It could be a pantry, a clothes closet, a display case... you name it.
And it's eight feet tall and four feet wide, so it's much more substantial in real life.
If you've got a modern room that needs a little architectural interest, give us a call. We'll help you design a piece that changes your space... and lets you store all your stuff out of sight... so you can live a clutter-free, stress-free life.
Remember the plans for the inglenook fireplace benches we showed off last week? They're all done, and they look great.
As you may remember from our last post, the home had an original Craftsman-style fireplace, but the benches on either side had been removed. The space looked forlorn without them.
We drew up a plan for new benches with a stepped-in trim detail to mimic the fireplace. Our 3D design was very helpful to the homeowner. It helped her visualize what she wanted, and she made a few minor changes to the height and depth of the piece.
The new benches integrate seamlessly with the home, and they look like they've always been there. You couldn't get this from store-bought furniture.
It was a pleasure to restore this stately fireplace to its original glory.
If you'd like to have a pair of fireside benches in your home, please drop us a line. We'll be happy to design something that looks like it belongs there.
This may be the perfect post to get yourself in the mood for autumn.
This week I'm starting a new project in a beautiful Craftsman-style home here in Asheville. Like many houses of this era, it has a big fireplace set into an inglenook.
I'd never heard of an inglenook til now, so how about a little history?
In the earliest days of architecture, fires were built in the middle of the room and the smoke just filtered out through the windows or vents in the roof. This is still the tradition in some Japanese country estates.
In the Western world, fireplaces were eventually pushed up against the wall and chimneys were added over them for better ventilation.
Thus began the tradition of the "inglenook." You can still find them in British homes, although nowadays the fire is often contained within a stove.
As time went on, inglenooks became more elaborate. They often included built-in seating. This was the central hub of the home, a place to cook food, care for a sick lamb, heat water for laundry, or just gather around the fire and tell stories.
Then as building techniques improved and homes became less drafty, inglenooks became less enclosed, with just a few columns to mark the separation from the rest of the room.
Eventually they fell out of fashion and were replaced by parlor fireplaces.
From time to time, inglenooks are revived by architects who appreciate them as a cozy place for a family to gather. A notable example is this streamlined version in Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. The tall backs of the chairs create the "nook," and you can also sit on the edge of the sunken hearth.
Craftsman architects also favored the inglenook. My client's Craftsman-era home has a big arched nook with a brick fireplace. She believes there were once benches in the niches on each side, but sadly they have been removed.
Our plan is to install new built-in seating with a flip-top lid on each bench for hidden storage. Here's the 3D mockup which Faith drew for her.
I'm planning to paint the seats to match the brick, and I'll also match the height of the trim at the bottom so everything will be cohesive.
You don't have to have a Craftsman-style home to have an inglenook. I've built similar storage benches in other homes. The version below has drawers for easier access to the items within.
So if your home could use a cozy place to relax, give us a call. We'll help you design something that suits your style.
I'm Arthur Teel, a craftsman who builds custom furniture in Asheville, North Carolina. Give me a call to talk about your next project!