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Hearth Rooms: Inviting Spaces

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The hearth room is where both everyday living and weekend entertaining take place. Designers share how they transformed local hearth rooms to meet their clients’ needs.


With the fireplace as a major element in the design, Directions in Design owner Jane Ganz transformed a hearth room into an expansive and welcoming space. “The clients wanted a very open look with good lighting,” she says.

To achieve that look, Ganz opened the fireplace on both sides and replaced the white-painted brick finish with a culture stone facing. Removing the wall between the hearth room and the kitchen and raising the kitchen ceiling to match the vault of the hearth room increased the overall feel of the space. “You want to use a hearth room to engage the entire family. If mom or dad is in the kitchen making dinner, they can still be involved with the family,” Ganz says.

The design also incorporated new furniture and art work that complements the room with various color tones and contrasts of neutrals and textures. The new space allows the Ladue homeowners to enjoy a weekend spending time with their family or hosting their friends. “By opening up the entertainment area of the kitchen to the seating area of the hearth room, there’s just more space for them to enjoy.”


As part of the family’s personal space, it was important to produce a casual, more intimate feel in the hearth room of the home of Lindenwood University’s president, says Colleen Ertl, senior designer for Diane Breckenridge. “It’s a room where they can gather with their friends and family or relax and enjoy the end of the day.”

Using the fireplace as the focal point, Ertl situated furniture around it, providing the maximum amount of seating possible. The blue, brown and green color palette carries throughout the home, with richer hues in the hearth room. The chocolate shades in the draperies and pillows play off the dark wood ceiling while providing balance in the textures. “In a space with lots of stone and wood, it’s easy for it to feel hard and cold, so the chenille and linen fabrics provide some softness,” Ertl says.

The hearth room is next to the kitchen and a staircase leading to the bedrooms, a location that gives ease to everyday use. “You want the room to be comfortable and durable, yet still beautiful,” Ertl explains. “This room is gorgeous, but it has an air of casualness, so it’s still approachable.”


With her client’s Des Peres household filled with children, Ooh La La owner Dee Hencken made sure she created an upscale hearth room that also was family-friendly. Playing off the rich hues of the existing built-in bookshelves, woodwork and stone hearth, Hencken incorporated a sofa, three chairs, a cocktail table and accessories in shades of bronzes, caramels and browns. “The whole house is very Old World— lots of wood and warmth, so we wanted to continue the European country look,” she says.

It was most important to combine functionality with design in the hearth room, as it is where the entire family gathers most often, Hencken explains. “You want it to be inviting and use colors and textures that allow you to relax without feeling like you can’t put your feet up on the sofa. Although this room is that way, it’s still very beautiful.”

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