According to our interiors expert Giles Kime, brightly colored fireplaces are all the rage right now.
One of the many notable features of Nina Campbell’s living room in Chelsea is the fireplace, which is not only a hymn to reductivist austerity, but also boasts gilded trim that lends the space considerable arrogance. What’s more, it encapsulates two principles of modern interior design philosophy: one is that if you place the fireplace correctly, the rest of the room will fall into place, and the other is that if you’re going to opt for simplicity, it helps if this is paired with a generous dose of luxury. In this respect, Miss Campbell’s gas fireplace is adorned not only with mirrored panels, but also with a pile of crystal logs that give it a touch of color. Lion, Witch and Wardrobe.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the sophistication of an upscale fireplace tended to come from luminous white marble, often intricately carved and inlaid with stone in contrasting colors. In the 19th century, striking designs in stone of a single, richer color became popular, and later, in the hands of early 20th century architects such as Sir Edwin Lutyens and his Art Deco followers, the general trend was for forms that were more elemental and somewhat more strict.
Fireplace specialists offer a variety of options, including Jamb, Westland and Renaissance London, made from delicious-sounding marbles ranging from Rosso Collemandina, Occhio di Pavone and Arabescato to Breccia Vesilia, Brocatello Francese and Medicea Superiore.
“The tastes of marble have changed over the centuries,” says Will Fisher, founder of Jamb, where both new and vintage fireplaces are a feature of the ever-growing range. “In Renaissance Italy, there was a resurgence of the richer palette of colors popular in ancient Rome. In the 18th century, lighter shades were favored, and in the 19th century a darker palette returned.”
He adds that years ago marble in rich colors was hard to sell, but now it takes center stage in laconic interiors. “It’s amazing how something so timeless can fit so beautifully into the most modern interiors. Not only are the textures and hues impressive, but the fact that they have completely different qualities depends on how they are cut.”
Richly colored marble chimneys fit perfectly with the resurgence of interest in colorful, layered rooms, notes Laura Dudswell of Westland fireplace specialist. This moment was eloquently demonstrated by interior designer Brandon Schubert when he created a room for the Wow!House last summer at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbor in London SW3. A 19th-century Westland chimney made of rich red marble filled the space with atmosphere. “Colored fireplaces add depth and soul to a room,” he says. “I love how the red marble matches the other colors in the room.”
Owen Pacey of Renaissance London is another fireplace specialist who has noticed a definite uptick in demand for fireplaces that combine simple shapes such as bolekshn and Art Deco designs with rich colors including arabescato green, vesilia breccia and French brocatello in warm colors. pink tones. “My advice,” he says, “is to build your color scheme around a spectacular fireplace to make it the center of attention.”
Another fireplace specialist responding to demand for a wider range of colors and textures is Chesneys, which recently launched a range of fire edgings made from British stone, including Ball Eye Blue, Ashburton marble and Yorkshire Swaledale.
Where to buy an antique fireplace
020–7627 1410; www.chesneys.co.uk
020–7730 2122; www.jamb.co.uk
020–7251 8844; www.renaissancelondon.com
020–7739 8094; www.westlandlondon.com
01366 327210; www.aftertheantique.com
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