See how a modern fireplace transforms a family room

A white-painted fireplace of slump-block adobe made the family room seem drab and dated. But building up the façade to make it thicker and covering it in vibrant tomato bisque–hued plaster has turned the hearth into a showpiece.

The smooth texture of the plastered surface adds to the allure. “We were inspired by vivid Etruscan colors,” says owner Josie Kelley, who, with husband, Steve, wanted the multilayer surface of marmorino ― a plaster made with marble bits ― to be subtly variegated.

The monolithic, 8-foot-wide fireplace front rises from a new oak floor to the open-beam ceiling. The table-height firebox opening, which includes a stainless steel hearth, makes the fire look more like a painting or built-in aquarium.

To add to the sculptural simplicity, the gas-fed flames rise through a bed of polished black stones.

Flanking the fireplace are low, 12-inch-deep cabinets made of makore (African cherry) and walls painted in a khaki color. Colorful pillows and a spiral-patterned rug accent the modern furniture and complete the look.

Design Lindy Small Architecture, Oakland, CA (510/251-1066)

More: Beautifiul modern fireplaces


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