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Fireplace Designs: Getting to the Hearth of the Matter

posted January 10, 2020

Five Contemporary Fireplace Designs We love

It might be cold outside, but inside these award-winning homes, it’s warm and cozy thanks to the innovative integration of fireplace design combined with the natural beauty of wood.


ceramic fireplace design

Lift House in Vermont by Birdseye. Photo by Erica Allen Studio.

Ceramic Surround

We love how the natural beauty of the Western Red Cedar ceiling plays off the modern patina glaze on the fireplace’s ceramic surround, creating a warm contemporary living space for the homeowners of this cedar-clad, ski-in, ski-out chalet.

“Materiality is an important aspect to all our projects,” explains architect Brian J. Mac. “We carefully consider which materials can best enhance our designs while providing the protection needed in our climate. Western Red Cedar is often a natural choice for our projects, not only for its long life-cycle, but also for its inherent beauty and added warmth for our contemporary designs.”

herringbone fireplace design

ADK Camp by Birdseye. Photo by Jim Westphalen Photography.

Herringbone Highlighter

The herringbone pattern of the naturally stained cedar slats gives depth to the architecture, providing a dynamic backdrop for the double-sided glass fireplace design. The dark cedar exterior of this upstate New York summer home, meanwhile, reflects a tangible element of nature, providing a connection to the land.

“Western Red Cedar holds a stain very well,” says Birdseye architect Brian J. Mac. “And the exterior black stain was an important tone in our pursuit of blending the architecture into the landscape and creating a strong contrast to the inside’s natural finish.”

modern lakehouse fireplace design

Higgins Lake House in Roscommon, Michigan by Jeff Jordan Architects. Photo by Jeff Garland Photography

Mantel Shmantel

Flush with the wall, this seamless fireplace design is elegant and chic. We love the way this recessed, minimalist design doesn’t interfere with the view, allowing the owners of this luxury cabin to stay warm and cozy as they take in the stunning scenery – even on cold blustery days. It’s also at one with nature thanks to the Western Red Cedar siding extending through to the living room and blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces.

“The Western Red Cedar’s appearance is harmonious with the trees on the site,” says architect Jeff Jordan, adding, “It also feels appropriate next to the multi-hued lake water.”

scandinavian style

Seadrift Residence by CCS Architecture on Stinson Beach. Photo by Matthew Millman.

Suspended Elegance

The hanging fireplace is the perfect solution for space-conscious, open concept living like this one. Suspended from a warm cedar ceiling, the polished metallic is also the perfect accent for this room’s neutral matte palette. Echoing the interior, the entire exterior of this waterfront California home is clad in Western Red Cedar siding. Thus, creating a seamless connection between the interior and exterior. For architect Cass Calder Smith, selecting nature’s top-performing building material proved a wise choice for both applications—especially upon seeing how it enhanced the finished product.

“As a wood house, it’s all about the cedar exterior,” he says, adding, “for the interior, it warms up the space.”

charred cedar accent

Madison Park Tree House by First Lamp Architecture & Construction. Photo by Tim Bies Photography.

Dark Drama

The charred cedar surround on this modern fireplace design makes a dramatic statement against the stark white walls. As well, it ties into the charred cedar façade on this award-winning Seattle, Washington home.

“We used cedar for many reasons,” says Kevin Witt, project lead. “One was to add an element of warmth to the project and help soften the contemporary design of the home. Second, was because of the versatility and performance of wood when installed properly over a rainscreen siding system. Cedar is one of the few natural woods that performs well in an exterior application. Also, because it is a renewable resource.”