Of Home and Hearth- By Gina Dostler
The hearth for so many years had been the heart of the home providing warmth, a place for social gathering, and warm cooked food.
Starting out those thousands of years ago as large pits in the ground, fireplaces have morphed through the ages. The medieval era brought the firepits inside the house. But once two-story buildings were constructed, the fireplaces were moved to the outside wall, which led to the first chimneys.
In the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin noticed the amount of heat wasting out through the wall and brought the fireplace back into the middle of the home in the form of a cast iron stove for a more efficient way of heating. Hence the Franklin stove.
And in 1796 with Count Rumsford’s contribution of designing a taller and shallower firebox that reflected heat more efficiently, the fireplace once again found its place on the outside wall. And his streamlined flues let the smoke flow up and out, thus allowing the chimney to be part of the wall of the home instead of attached to the outside.
Finally, with the advent of the 1950s’ “ranch style homes,” central heating freed up the fireplace and allowed it to be used as a decorative element rather than just a heating and cooking device. Where once the fireplace was essential to living, it now became a component for eye appeal.
Present-day fireplaces sometimes get lost in the architectural process with their aesthetics greatly overlooked, leaving a beautifully decorated room with a fireplace that seems out of place. The idea and cost of tearing it out is usually out of the question, and instead interior designers are brought in to try and correct the look. But sometimes the answer is simply found, in certain accessories for the fireplace to regenerate an integrated look and create the right atmosphere for the room.
Frank Jank of The Hearthstone in Corona del Mar, has a wonderful store that is wall-to-wall fireplace accessories. From custom screens to antique andirons, this place speaks adventure when looking through all the beautiful old wrought iron pieces and accessories for fireplaces.
For 45 years, Frank has transformed drab fireplaces into beautiful pieces always to be admired as well as enjoyed. His eye for correct form and his knowledge of everything fireplace makes him the perfect contact for gathering some insight into getting a fireplace into shape. So before you light up the fire, read on to learn more about the beauty in fireplaces.
Q: What happens with fireplaces and where does accessorizing come into play?
A: Fireplaces seem to be left out of the loop in design work. The architects work out the design of the home, the interior designers dress it up and many times what gets left out of the picture is the fireplace. There truly is an art to getting the right look to your fireplace. Many times a hearth looks out of scale with the mantel, usually due to tall ceilings. It can be frustrating to bring it into balance. So instead of tearing up the fireplace and redoing the whole thing which many people do not want to do, you can accessorize the fireplace to make it fit a room.
Q: What can I do for a small fireplace box compared with my mantel?
A: When your fireplace looks out of balance you can start with a screen to bring more height to the fireplace. This can be a frustrating process because most home improvement stores only carry standard size screens. Building a custom screen to best fit your fireplace can bring an unsurpassed look and bring your fireplace into a continuous flow with your interior design. Having the screen cover not only the fireplace but the step will give it more presence and the added height needed to bring everything back to scale. Also when placing a screen even for simple décor, it is essential to never have the frame of the fireplace extend out past the screen or else the out of balance quotient is back. There are always exceptions but in general the screen should be one inch past the frame and extend to the floor, never just to the step of the fireplace. If an ornate mantel creates a top-heavy feel to the fireplace, placing a fender can add weight and again create balance to the whole structure.
Q: What types of screens should be considered?
A: Each and every fireplace is different so that is a question that really can’t be answered. But right now the Tuscany look is very expansive in this area with the beautiful Mediterranean homes lining our coastal cities. It seems anything polished brass has long gone from the scene and now we have more wrought iron to complement the that Mediterranean feel. I would suggest one-of-a-kind antiques that can really style your fireplace and give it a unique element. It’s best to always have measurements of the firebox and of the fireplace mantel to help determine the correct size of screen. I always ask my customers to also bring a picture of the fireplace so we can match up the best possible accessories and accomplish a fireplace that not only brings heat from the fire, but a warm and elegant place that flows with the room.
Q: What other ways can I dress my fireplace?
A: Accessorizing a fireplace really is fun if you think about it. From French chenets to antique andirons there are many ways to create a stunning space. Sometimes with big fireboxes consider a handcrafted fireback to fill up the space. The French imports are the best and add European charm as well. Of course there is always the antique fireplace toolset with its shovel, poker and tongs to grace some of the space.
Q: At your shop, there are thousands of handpicked items from places like Italy, France, and England that make finding the right antique piece much easier.
A: For over 45 years we have meticulously gathered these items from many countries filling our store with many fixtures and accessories that are hundreds of years old. It’s the largest selection of modern, classic and antique period pieces to be found in Orange County. It’s a passion we share and give back to our clients by working with them to create the perfect fireplace. Our objective is definitely to make it wonderful for the eyes to see by bringing out its best features.
Frank Jank, Proprietor
2711 East Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, Ca 92625