Written by Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal & founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc.
A fireplace is a classic amenity that has been desired and incorporated into home designs since the 1600s. Trends may come and go, designs change, but one thing is for sure, fireplaces aren’t going anywhere. Fireplaces were once more utilitarian and were often confined to only the living room. Thanks to today’s advances in electric and gas fireplace options, installation isn’t as strenuous or expensive as it once was. These advancements have allowed designers like me to incorporate fireplaces in new places, even adding multiple fireplaces throughout a single home. Here are six unique rooms where I like to add fireplaces in my home designs.
1. Master Bathroom
Nothing adds that wow factor to a beautifully designed master bath like the warm glow of a fireplace. This is especially important to homeowners in northern climates where they may feel cold coming out of the bath or shower. Often times, homeowners don’t think to put a fireplace in the master bathroom, but once they see photos of bathrooms with fireplaces, they get it. In fact, research shows that while less than 10% of homeowners currently have a fireplace in the master bathroom, 60% consider them either essential or a definite plus once they are exposed to the idea. Better yet, it’s never been easier to add a fireplace. With advances in electric fireplaces, it’s easy to just plug it in and enjoy with little additional construction required. Prior to installing, contact an experienced dealer to check the regulations and requirements of the specific model purchased.
Why would I install an unsightly heater on the ceiling of my client’s garage when I can install an aesthetically pleasing thermostat-controlled fireplace instead? For some, the garage is just a place to store the cars and lawn care items. For others, the garage is a workshop, a body shop or man cave. By adding a small fireplace like Napoleon’s Tureen™ Gas Fireplace, I can heat the often chilly garage in a beautiful way.
3. Outdoor Spaces
Some of life’s greatest moments are spent in the backyard, surrounded by friends and family, surrounding a warm fireplace. Don’t get me wrong, a hole-in-the-ground fire pit is great and all, but when transforming a backyard into an outdoor living space, nothing adds ambiance like an outdoor fireplace. Design an outdoor living space that flows seamlessly from indoors to outdoors. The transitional design of these spaces will make the outdoor living space feel like more of an addition to the home. Our research shows that while only 13% of homeowners own an outdoor fireplace today, 88% consider it an essential item once they are exposed to the idea.
Kitchens, like fireplaces, were at one time specifically functional. Today’s kitchens are different; they’re a place to gather, to create conversation as a meal is prepared, cooked and then served. Many clients are opting for a larger kitchen/dining area in replacement of the often-underutilized formal dining room. Since I am designing the kitchen as a more social space, I like to add a fireplace to foster a warm, inviting feel. Whether installing a gas fireplace as part of a new construction project or improving an existing design with an electric fireplace, there are plenty of ways to add a beautiful fireplace to the kitchen.
Give your family and guests a warm welcome—literally. With fireplaces available in a variety of shapes and sizes, even the smallest entries can be brightened with the addition of a fireplace. A small torch flame can be added to an entryway pillar for an unexpected but intriguing design addition.
6. Exercise Room
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Why would I add a source of heat to a room intended to keep cool while you exercise? With electric fireplaces, I can achieve the beauty and class of a fireplace without the output of heat. I have two electric fireplaces in my own workout space. Feel the burn, watch the flames dance as you listen to your favorite tunes. Fireplaces in workout spaces add class to an otherwise sterile space.
A fireplace in the living room is beautiful, useful but often expected. By adding fireplaces to these unexpected spaces, I can display creativity to my clients in both high-end homes and starter homes. Fireplaces add ambiance, heat and a focal point to spaces throughout the home. With the variety of shapes, sizes, and types provided by Napoleon, I’m able to add fireplaces in ways I never could before.
Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal and founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc., is known for his one-of-a-kind home designs. Visbeen works with clients to understand the important aspects of their vision and then transforms these into a conceptual sketch right before their eyes. Winner of more than 100 Residential Design Awards and dozens of Best in American Living Awards, Visbeen incorporates these themes and more into his designs and his own home, located in Grand Rapids, Mich.