Pen To Paper: Fireplace Surround Ideas…..

I have shared some of my drawings before on the blog, but I thought it may be fun to create a new series which I have entitled “Pen To Paper” where show you an aspect of my projects and draw out what I am thinking for the design element.

My second project at Hawthorne is in full swing, albeit a very slow swing, but I am hoping to rev it up with some help of the newly installed ethanol fireplace we put in the bedroom…..

Ethanol Fireplace

Nice but boring – mind you, nothing is wrong with this but it just wasn’t cutting it since the rest of the apartment is so amazing, so I took a pen to paper and quickly sketched out three concepts for the client to jazz the fireplace up…..

Edited_Fireplace Sketches

I ended up coming up with four ideas that basically ran along a spectrum — all simple installations but with varying degrees of price points.


Option 1: The easiest option since it is just wrapping the fireplace in cerused or limed oak. Pretty quick and easy but continues the rustic chic theme we have in the rest of the house.


Option 2: Expands the frame to be 6″ to 9″ of the top and bottom of the fireplace. Slight tweak but visually expands the volume of the fireplace.


Option 3: This option completely frames out the fireplace and creates a slight decorative element to the mix with mitered corners. We would finish the piece in a honey color similar other existing pieces in the condo….


Option 4: This throws budget out the window and creates a focal point with floor to ceiling floating panels. It’s dramatic and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Got a favorite? Fingers crossed the client has one too! I am off to wine country to celebrate a friend’s birthday! Have a great weekend!

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99 Problems & Shelving IS One of Them……

I recently started a new project for a great couple in the Castro area of San Francisco.  They live in a converted Victorian row house, occupying the top floor. They hired me to work on their entry, foyer and living space which I am excited to tackle.  However, being that they are a young couple who just purchased the home, design funds are limited to say the least.  As with many new homeowners, they have a big want list which I am slowly weeding down based on the budget.

When I took on this project, the first thing I asked them was if this was their “forever home,” starter home or an investment property because it changes how I will allocate the budget.   Based on their response, I thought it best to invest the largest portion of the budget to address some structural changes to the space including the demo of an odd pony wall, addition of a window seat and built-in shelving in the living room.

Opting to spend a chunk of my budget on these items are two-fold: (1) these changes, while not only beautiful will add resale value and (2) since space is tight, I need to use every nook and cranny to maximum utility.  At the moment, I am fixated on figuring out the layout of the shelving trying to take into consideration the couple’s “large” flat screen TV (I think the technical term is “freaking huge”), the request not to change the existing fireplace or mantel and their mandate for sleek and comfortable with a European feel.  So here are some options I have come up with so far…..

Traditional with a combination of open and closed storage.  Since solid wood isn’t  an option, we would do it in a medium tone veneer.

A tad more rustic, this option uses reclaimed wood (a splurge) but the tension between the Victorian elements of the house and the aged nature of the wood could be fantastic……or really really bad.

This is our least expensive option, which uses Ikea floating shelves in a high white lacquer.  Paint the back walls a dramatic color and with the right accessories, it could be quite dramatic and dynamic……

The last option would what I am calling “encased” because  we would build an open case to hold the shelves but the back would remain open.  I love the “x” design at the base that can hold wood for the fireplace or books.  It’s a nice bit of geometric interest in a pretty straight-forward built-in.  I want to do a grey wash to the shelving which I think would give the built-ins more interest.

I have a few more ideas percolating but they all are dependent on pricing of materials.  I am meeting with the contractor today to discuss options and get his take since in the end, I can create it but his team needs to do the hard part and build it!

Okay, I am off to meetings and to handle a family emergency that has cropped up.  Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend!  Remember, life is too short not to live it up……

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