Small Design Changes Make a BIG Difference (before and after fireplace)

Sep 6, 2011

Ever thought of making a small design change? I (Rebecca of RED interior) think it’s the small things that can make a dramatic difference. Take this contemporary home, it had a nondescript fireplace surround that couldn’t have been more mundane or predictable. While travertine is a nice stone, it can be found everywhere and therefore has lost its uniqueness, especially in this application. The owners of this custom Solana Beach home approached RED interior and together we identified the items they wanted addressed in the remodel. They wanted

  1. a sleek contemporary fireplace that fit their furnishings and art collection
  2. to maintain their minimalist look but, they realized that they really used the hearth for seating when they had company
  3. the new fireplace to fit the scale of the room (the old one didn’t)
  4. to use the existing structure to incorporate the new fireplace (no exterior construction!)
  5. to make it kid friendly


I took all of these challenges into consideration while designing this low line, asymmetrical fireplace solution. The owner is very into design and we discussed the use of the golden mean. I incorporate it intuitively into my designs, but it was fun to discuss this with these savvy clients. Mr. Client did the research on the firebox and selected the brand he wanted to use, but asked me for input on the size. We were able to enlarge the firebox from the original without modifying the exterior. Together we reviewed 4 design options which I presented in perspective drawings and decided on the one you see. While designing this, I knew we had to go asymmetrical and incorporate more of the wall space than the existing fireplace; part of this was done by visually enlarging the firebox with the addition of a metal surround. This design addresses all of the concerns these owners had. The fireplace is now incorporated into the design of the room rather than being an awkward element. We incorporated eased edges on the quartzite hearth and mantle to make it more suitable for little ones. The fireplace is contemporary, sleek and minimal while providing more than double the seating on the bench hearth than what the original fireplace did.

Perspective Illustration provided by REDinterior for consideration

Working hand in hand with the home owners, I was able to help them with just a few hours of my time to design the surround and select the finishes. After that, the owner wanted to work directly with the contractors to make the vision a reality. This is a great example of how a designer can help any homeowner, whether with one corner of the house or building new from the ground up.


Rebecca a Certified Interior Designer, has her design studio, RED interior, in La Jolla at 7527 Girard.

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