To watch the fire in the fireplace
Set in a corner next to a hallway, a floor-level fireplace might
have seemed stranded in this large family room. Instead, a boost in
elevation put the flames in full view from every angle.
Working for Betty and Steve Mar of Bellevue, Washington, architects
Carolyn Widgery and Stuart Silk raised the zeroclearance,
heat-recirculating fireplace 14 inches off the floor and created a low
and wide wood-storage space underneath.
Conventional 2-by-4 framing sheathed with gypsum board encases and
raises the prefabricated metal firebox, which sits on a 1/8-inch-thick
asbestos board set atop 3/4-inch plywood. The fireplace surround is
vertical-grain Douglas fir.
A standard 10-inch triple-wall metal flue vents the firebox, but to
give the fireplace a bolder look, the architects designed an outer
sheet-metal cylinder to wrap around it. The 16-inch-diameter cylinder
is painted with a high-gloss enamel in the same pale gray color as the
walls. The owners use the space around the flue as a display mantel.
The wood-storage space, 55 inches wide and 16 to 28 inches deep,
holds enough wood for several evening fires. The fan for the
recirculating system is housed in the back left corner of the storage
On the floor in front of the fireplace, 8-inch glazed quarry tiles
foil occasional sparks and make easy work of cleaning up spilled ashes
and bits of wood.
Photo: Elevated fireplace puts flickering flames where they’re
easier to see and makes room for wood storage below