Fireplace Renovation adds a Modern Touch to a Dated Family Room

close up view of custom designed English fireplace

Having a fireplace in a room creates an instant focal point. But what happens if it’s the wrong kind of focal point? We were called to help with this family room. The owners liked having a fireplace but always felt it was too heavy. Having big black speakers on the top of the built-ins didn’t help either.

The Original Fireplace


If you look closely at the actual fireplace, you’ll see that the scale is off. It’s much too small for the weight of the ledge stone and the size of the built-ins.

It was decided to go with a completely new look. We knew we wanted something elegant and classic. Since the homeowners had lived with such a small fireplace opening for so long, we wanted to give them something large and stately. We selected the Town and Country TC36, based on a Rumford fireplace design.

classic Rumford fireplace design

What’s So Special About a Rumford Fireplace?

If you think that all fireplaces are equal, let me tell you they’re not. The name Rumford applies not only to the style and shape of this fireplace, but it’s also the name of the inventor. Count Rumford led a very interesting life in both America and England. He was a scientist, inventor and adventurer. He had all kinds of escapades, but today is remembered for his ‘state-of-the-art’ fireplace design.

Rumford created a sensation in London, England when he introduced the idea of restricting the chimney opening to increase the updraught. He applied his knowledge of how heat is transmitted and made fireplaces smaller and shallower than they typically were. His workers changed fireplaces by using bricks to make the side walls angled, thereby reflecting more heat. A plus was that smoke was carried up the chimney with little loss of heated room air. This was a big deal in the 1790’s and he became a world-wide celebrity.

His fireplaces fell out of favour by the 1850’s but the look and design are enjoying a revival in contemporary design. If you visit the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, you’ll see that they’ve installed the classic Town and Country Rumford fireplace in each guest room. It was this classic and elegant look that we desired for our client.

Scan 15

Once we decided on the TC36, it was time to come up with the drawings for the actual fireplace. We consulted the spec sheet to determine mantle clearance and mantel depth. As well, we had to have the correct number inches for the  fireplace surround.

drawings of fireplace

Work Begins on the New Fireplace

fiefireIMG_3765 copy

Overview of the Custom Details

picture explaining the details of a custom fireplace

One More Time: The Original Fireplace


The After: A Beautiful and Classic Fireplace

White English fireplace with andirons and herringbone laid brick

The end result was a very happy and pleased client. The Rumford insert provided the stateliness that we were after, and the new fireplace doesn’t overtake the room like the original. It’s a much better balance for the space. The clean lines of the design provide that transitional look that works with so many furnishing styles.

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