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Design Dilemma: Cozying Up to the Modern Fireplace

family room

With winter in full swing, we’ve retreated indoors to cozy up beside the fireplace. What kind of fireplace are you sitting by?

These days, there are many options to choose from, ranging from contemporary to traditional, and we thought we’d take a look at the modern fireplace in all its permutations. Shall we?

What distinguishes a modern fireplace from a traditional one? Usually, a modern fireplace will have far less detail. Often, there is no mantle, but a flat, clean line that is most often left completely unadorned, but which occasionally provides a frame for a painting, and in some instances, a TV.

Below, an open concept living room in a London apartment virtually requires an open, streamlined fireplace, like the one below.


What’s so great about this fireplace is that the long, horizontal lines of the fireplace perfectly balance out the tall verticals of the room, which are emphasized by the vertical chimney that reaches for the skylit ceiling. The owners have avoided making the television the focal point by discreetly placing it off to one side. The message is that what is valued here is hearth and home, not staring into a screen.

Also in the contemporary vein is this double-sided fireplace that is built to conveniently heat and be seen in two rooms — a living room and a den. It’s the perfect way of maximizing the presence of a fireplace in your home, without maximizing costs. Here, the owners have opted to use the flat space directly above the fireplace to hang a painting.

Family Home on a Drive to the Heath

We know that contemporary fireplaces look cool in contemporary spaces, like the modern dining room below:

Pimlico Townhouse

But what about traditional spaces and period homes? Can contemporary fireplaces work there? You bet! The London home below is a typical, traditional rowhouse, with a formal entryway and crown molding. But somehow, the low-slung contemporary fireplace without a mantle or traditional hearth fits in perfectly with the elegantly simple aesthetic.

Detached House - Hampstead

And again, in the rustic Russian cabin below, a fireplace contemporary in style, looks quite natural along with all the rusticity of the log walls, thanks to using a rough stone material on the fireplace to balance out the room’s rustic elements.

Деревянный дом на Волге в Ульяновской области

This contemporary fireplace in a London home has a TV screen built right in. While we’re not sure what this arrangement will do to the lifespan of your TV, it certainly is a space saver that acknowledges the importance of the TV in most homes today.


And another fireplace with the same idea, although this fireplace is made of stone. The stone helps to disguise to some degree the TV, making it a touch less prominent:

Martis Camp 230

The asymmetric modern fireplace below with shelving and seating on each side is one of the few we have seen incorporating a mantle, which allows for leaning a photo.

Contemporary Living Room

One of the coolest fireplaces we’ve seen is this glass fireplace, that virtually disappears when it’s not in use.

Modern Beach House

Here’s another with the same idea:

Custom 4-sided Gas Fireplace

Finally, this modern fireplace would seem to be just a bright red console or cabinet when not in use.

Indoor Ventless Fireplaces

So as you can see, there are a million different ways to go modern with your fireplace. And a contemporary fireplace doesn’t have to mean boring!

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Design Dilemma: Five Design Trends on Their Way Out in 2017

We’ve already discussed a few key trends for 2017, including upholstered headboards, the return of forest green, the use of jewel colors at home, and a greater use of warm materials such as cork, wood and  terra cotta tile. Now it’s time to discuss the trends of last year that are quickly fading.


  1. OUT: Glitzy metals like chrome, brass, copper and gold. IN: unlacquered brass and organic textures.
Prospect Heights Brownstone

Brass and gold had a very brief run in popularity in the last couple of years, but already the tide has turned away from Trumpian glitz. Instead, the design world is increasingly turning to very organic materials, or at the very least, unlacquered metals and unlacquered brass, in what is known as a “living finish” that resembles something very organic and alive. You get a bit of the idea below, with a wall of unlacquered brass that lends the bathroom a soft, organic spa feel.

Palm Springs Retreat

2. OUT: Minimalism. IN: Maximalism.


Minimalism has had a very long run, thanks in part, to the availability of products that has most of us swimming in more than enough stuff. Many of us just want to pare down. However, in recent years, this has often been taken to an extreme, especially in modernist and Mid-Century Modern environments where layering and patterns seemed verboten. Well, these days we’re craving a little coziness. Maximal interiors, like the one below, are not necessarily cluttered, but make full use of patterns, colors, layers, and a rich mix of textures and materials, including leather, velvet and sheepskin, contrasted with metal and wood.

Living Room

The maximal living room below, does much the same thing in a profusion of rich deep color, pattern and textures. Say yes to wallpaper ad patterned rugs!

new photos

3. OUT: Reclaimed and dark woods. IN: lighter woods.

Reclaimed Wood Accent Wall

Reclaimed and dark woods have been everywhere in the past few years. So ubiquitous, in fact, that we all knew it was just a matter of time before the trend would grow old. Well, that time has come. Instead of reclaimed woods and very dark finishes like mahogany and ebony, people are opting for lighter woods such as oak, birch and pear which always seem to feel fresh and modern. Raw wood finishes, especially popular on dining room tables featuring “live edges” will continue to be popular. The red birch kitchen below is one example.

Hillsdale kitchen

And below, another kitchen utilizing sustainably-sourced birch plywood:

Contemporary Eco Kitchen in the Cotswolds

4. OUT: Open kitchens. IN: Separate kitchens.

Botany House

We’re still trying to wrap our heads around this one, as open kitchens are a mainstay in many homes and still highly-prized. Still, there are a subset of cooks who want to be able to shut the doors on the mess and cooking odors in the kitchen. Luckily, many designers and architects are listening to their desires.


5. OUT: Marble. IN: Terrazo and other types of stones and composites.

Chelsea Project

It’s hard to believe that luxurious marble could ever really go out of style, but what’s happened is probably just a reaction to overexposure. It seems that every upscale kitchen these days features Carrara marble countertops and backsplashes. People are likely to opt for something a little different in 2017 by choosing other types of materials, including Terrazzo. (Likewise, subway tile also suffers from overexposure and is likely on the way out.) Below, a shower style in Terrazzo:

Basalt &Terrazzo

And below, a Terrazzo floor:

Park St

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Design Dilemma: Five Design Trends for 2017

Santa Rosa Residence

Welcome to 2017! As we ring in the new year, we’re assessing design trends to get a handle on what’s “in” and “out.” Now certainly, design trends do not move as fast as fashion trends do. It takes several years for a look, let’s say “industrial” or “Mid-Century Modern” to run their course. And at times, it seems as if some of these trends are never going to die.  Mid-Century Modern is a good example of a long-lived trend that has now been around for close to two decades. And yet, little by little, styles and interior ideas are changing. For example,  this year, as opposed to recent years, the large furniture chains are suggesting that 2017 will be the year of Japanese Minimalism and Italian Vintage Modern. Here’s a quick look at a few of the trends that prognosticators predict will be hot this year.

1. Green as the new black.
Deep dark green, emerald green, forest green and deep olives, seem to be the “it” color of the year, as seen above and below. Green is organic and soothing, and depending on the exact tone, can come off as homey or regal. Expect to see more forest green sofas and emerald green occasional chairs!

Brooklyn apartment
Entertainment Centers



2. Jewel tones.

And it’s not just emerald green that is back in a big way, any jewel tones, from deep blue to magenta to deep purple are favored this year.  Jewel tones are warm but elegant. In velvet, they project a sense of luxury and posh comfort which is a nice change from the hard-edged metal and distressed leather of the industrial style, or the prim, muted grays and beiges of Mid-Century Modern. Below, a living room manages to use many jewel tones while still coming off as light-hearted and lively.

Living Room

And below, a living room utilizing some of the same jewel tones comes off in a completely different way, as a cozy parlor for evening conversation:

Notting Hill

And here, again, emerald green, which pops in a wonderful way against smoky, charcoal walls:

Photo by Ingrid Rasmussen Photography – Discover contemporary living room design ideas

3. Upholstered Bedheads.
Another interesting trend we’ve noted is the move toward upholstered bedframes over the wooden and metal frames of the past. Upholstery can come off as luxe  — like something you might see in a high-end hotel. While it’s a shift away from hard edges, we wonder how long this trend will last given the fact that more of us are conscious of banishing allergens such as dust mites from our bedrooms!

Fulham Garden Flat

The nice thing about upholstery, is that without much effort or fanfare, you can achieve a completely different vibe. Above, a traditional bedroom sports a powder blue headboard that suggests the homey comfort of grandma’s house. And below, tall headboards upholstered in velvet exude a sense of luxury and sensuality.

Suburban Modern

The black upholstered headboard below manages to come off as youthful and graphic when paired with a graphic polkadot bedspread and bright chartreuse pillows:

Interior Styling

4. Warmer materials, including terra cotta and cork.
With the advent of the industrial look, metals have had a good, long run. But in 2017, prognosticators predict that people will be looking to bring more warmth into their homes. This may come in the form of terra cotta tiles, cork walls or floors, or more use of wood.
Below, a living room warms up, thanks to terra cotta tiles.


Here, cork floors add warmth:

New Home Cork

And below, traditional wood floors are always in style! Note the jewel tones in the room:

New Home Cork

5. Closed kitchens.

This is a surprise development, as open kitchens have been heavily favored for a number of years. But naturally, as with any trend, there is always a backlash. Although many of us love the interactivity and informality of an open kitchen there are those that crave the privacy and formality of a closed-off space.

Contemporary Farmhouse Style

Are you curious about what’s headed out of style? Tune in next time as we explore the trends to avoid in the new year!