How to create a fabulous fireplace

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Above: In the lobby of a Milanese apartment, Studio Peregalli opted for weathered glamor with 18th-century giltwood chairs in the original damask and an antique mural from a French chateau wall.


Beth Diana Smith couldn’t stop talking. The designer was hired as a remote consultant to help zhuzh a salon but spotted an eyesore in the background. It was a terrible hallway, with an exposed closet organization system that was so unsightly it made the fun completely out of order. “I said, ‘I absolutely have to fix this,'” Smith recalls. “It’s the first impression. It’s the first thing people see when they walk into your home. So that’s where you want to set the tone.

Essentially, your lobby is like a taste test at the ice cream parlor – and it can be either a dollop of mundane vanilla or an addictive sea salt with slivers of caramel you don’t know about. can’t get bored. “I want someone to feel like, I have to come in and see what the rest of the house looks like,” says Smith, who recently installed green and white hexagon floor tiles, oversized Buddhas and a console table in stingray in the neo-colonial style of a client. in New Jersey.

Sometimes an afterthought for homeowners, fireplace design is now in full swing and finally getting the attention it deserves. A major key to getting it right? DRAMA, in capital letters. “We’re doing an entrance in New York where we’re using bas-reliefs to make an all-plaster vine that goes up the double-height entrance,” says designer Katie Ridder. Its own home in Millbrook, New York, is aesthetic candy, with its floors covered in purple Moroccan tiles and a handkerchief dome above. Ridder chose bas-relief for his clients’ project because “it’s very tactile and not too whimsical, for lack of a better word.” But that’s unusual. Not everyone has a bas-relief.

While practicality is a must in a hallway – you need a place to kick off your shoes and toss your keys, and a mirror to give you one last look before you step out – a glamorous entry hall can help you live your best life. “For the person who lives there, it’s the last thing they see before going to work and the first thing they see when they come home,” says designer Jarvis Wong, who recently included a sculpture carved out of recycled wood as a focal point in an apartment at 200 Amsterdam, a new skyscraper on New York’s Upper West Side.

open foyer with polished floors a very modern curved bench with large artwork on the wall above and wooden walls leading to a door and light fixtures that look like helicopter blades
A Brodie Neill biomorphic bench deployed by Michael K. Chen in an Upper East Side foyer with limed white oak walls and terrazzo flooring.
Max Burkhalter

“It’s really about combining unusual elements that are attractive and exciting,” says designer Dianne Ramponi. She once hung an early 20th-century Maria Theresa chandelier in a Boston hall above a central mahogany table. “I placed a custom mirror top, so it mirrored that chandelier,” she says. “It was elegant and glamorous.” If you’re struggling to bring glamor to your own entryway, Ramponi recommends decorating with finds from your travels, which can become instant conversation starters. “It piques your curiosity and interest in what else you’re going to see around the house,” she says.

There are a few common fireplace designers that we see again and again. One problem Ridder notices: people often underfurnish it. Even in a smaller space, “you might have something you wouldn’t expect, like a highboy, to make it less utilitarian,” she says. Smith, who keeps a 30-inch-tall rounded sweetgrass basket in her own hall to serve as a hiding place for shoes that might otherwise languish on the floor, just wants to make sure people don’t forget about her.

A hallway becomes awkward “when it doesn’t look or feel thought out, almost as if they thought of it last, or you can tell they didn’t think of it. not that the piece was important,” she said. The fact that many homes are smaller than the main living space means that, like a powder room, it’s prime real estate to go big, says Ramponi: “It’s small but can be a dramatic place.”


Scents and Sensitivity

Sure, your fireplace looks good. But does it pass the smell test? The puffs of these scents are sure to impress, the designers say.

Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia Candle: “It’s fruity and very fresh. —Jarvis Wong

Freshly cut gardenia: “I like something alive and real.” —Katie Rider

Capri Blue Volcano Candle: “It’s sweet with a hint of spice. It makes me happy and inspired. —Beth Diana Smith

Lilacs, roses and lilies: “I prefer to use the natural scents of aromatic flowers.”
—Dianne Ramponi

september 2022 cover elle decor

This story originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE


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