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And then there was fire…

… the kind we humans learned to make and maintain. Fire paved the way for human evolution – from being a means of protection from predators and by keeping us warm. Cooking with fire, made our food safer and more digestible. Fire became so essential to us that our homes were built around the hearth in the center where we maintained this essential energy source for the survival and bonding of our families. It enabled us to make tools out of clay (pottery), ore (metal) and sand (glass) – and from there a civilization grew.

Fireplace – the altar to fire

In our early dwellings and our historically, increasingly sophisticated homes, we always gave a special place to fire, starting out of necessity, and in modern times, out of love for the meaning, beauty and mystery of the fire that made us. A room with a fireplace elevates that room to a special category. We arrange furniture around it – our modern version of sitting and sharing stories and secrets around a camp fire.

Fireplace – a focal point of the room

How to create a balance between simplicity of modern interior design while honoring the focal point of our fireplaces (often built 20, 30, or 40 years ago)? An elegant and cost effective fireplace makeover solution is in using a solid color paint treatment approach (see examples in the slider).

Lighter, darker and accent color makeover options

There are three basic directions to give an older fireplace mantle a modern look using a solid color paint treatment:

  • by painting it white, a lighter visual presence is created by merging it with a light wall background
  • by painting it dark (shades of gray), a striking visual presence is created in contrast with a light wall background
  • by painting it in an accent color (already chosen for the room), a dynamic presence is created where the fireplace does not stand alone but rather has a compositional relationship with other accent color items in the room

Whichever way you choose to make your old fireplace look current, enjoy it for the powerful meaning of fire it holds.