Fireplace Makeovers

For good reason, the hearth is often called the heart of the home.


Patrick Bermingham’s terra cotta fireplace.
Photography by Gill Alkin.

Toronto-based artist Patrick Bermingham designed and created this beautiful terra cotta fireplace to add a sense of history to a narrow and otherwise uninteresting room. Decorated with pheasants eating grapes—a Roman symbol of eternity—as well as side figures of a man and a woman, the piece fulfills the homeowners’ desire for a Mediterranean-style fireplace that would warm the room even without a fire. Bermingham is represented by cross mackenzie ceramic arts in Washington, DC.

Lisa Tureson of Faux Creations’ painted fireplace surround.
Photography by Stacey Zarin Goldberg.

To combat the feeling of “empty space” left by white built-in cabinetry around the fireplace (inset), Lisa Tureson of Faux Creations, Inc., in Northern Virginia mimicked the look and feel of distressed wood with a decorative-painting technique called “crackling.” The finish makes the mantel look more like furniture, and it also warms up the surrounding room, which the homeowners wanted to be elegant and inviting. Interior design by Gwin Siedlitz, Sage Interiors.

Mt. Rainier, Maryland-based artist Margaret Boozer
created this fireplace surround.

Mt. Rainier, Maryland-based artist Margaret Boozer created this fireplace surround out of fired clay for a couple who wanted a distinctive, functional art piece that would both command attention and fit in with the original character of their late-1800s house. The Mt. Rainier red clay used in the design shrinks and cracks when fired, creating an unusual silhouette and texture that is complemented by a slate hearth and steel mantel. For more information on Boozer, contact cross mackenzie ceramic arts in Washington, DC.


A fireplace by interior designer Nestor Santa-Cruz.
Photography by Ron Solomon.

The standard builder’s mantel that would have come with this house lacked appeal and refinement. Nestor Santa-Cruz of Washington, DC-based SKB Architecture and Design intervened with a remodel in the neoclassical style of Jean Michel Frank. The new mantel, made of blue-gray Turkish limestone, is curvaceous, spare and elegant: the perfect frame for a winter fire in this light-filled room.



Faux polished-steel fireplace design by Skip Sroka.
Photography by Timothy Bell.

While the lines of this mantel are traditional, Skip Sroka of Sroka Design in Bethesda, Maryland, made it the focus of the room with a faux polished-steel finish. While metallic fireplaces can often look cold and uninviting, the warm tones of the room and the paint detail on the wall make this one sophisticated and punchy.


Bethesda-based Studio Nuovo’s Ricardo Ramos &
Sheree Friedman solved the problem of a staid,
fireplace with this redesigned façade.
Photography by Jeanne Modderman.

Bethesda-based Studio Nuovo’s Ricardo Ramos and Sheree Friedman solved the problem of a staid, brick-fronted basement fireplace with this redesigned façade. The warm, natural slate tile was laid in a random pattern to make the ceiling seem higher, and the hearth was brought out into the room for safety. The mantel, which complements the built-in cabinets and architectural woodwork the designers had already added to the room, is the perfect finishing touch.