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!