How we built our Mid-Century Modern fireplace

How We Built A Mid-Century Modern Fireplace

We are adding a series this year we’re calling “Retro Christmas Open House”, where we share some of our home decorating ideas.

We love our 1968 ranch. It was love at first sight, even without some of the classic attributes that you might expect to have in the typical mid-mod ranch home, (it is more of a mid century modest). It has plenty of the space, comforts and style of the era. However, one of the things we wished for over the past 8 years was a fireplace. Last year, as our Christmas gift to one another, we decided to add one.

No easy task, as I was told by many contractors. Undaunted, Hubby + I  took to brainstorming, as we often do here at The Retro Christmas Card Company. One evening we decided that the perfect place for it would be right in the corner of the living room. That way you would see it the moment you came in the front door. To do this we would have to remove a set of inside sliding doors. They used to divide the home from the outside, but they are no longer needed since we added the Lanai Lounge (story to come later).

Over the years of research we have been inspired by those “see through” fireplaces that can be appreciated from both sides. I am a visual person so I began by running to my Studio and getting out a wax crayon. I then proceeded to draw out what I envisioned onto the glass door. Thank goodness, Brent “gets me”, and understands what I am trying to create by now, (and finally stops looking at me like I am nuts). Then we cut cardboard so that it would feel more “real”. Well, at least opaque.  

One of the real challenges of the project was the chimney. We really didn’t want to breach the roof. Considering that we live in Florida, and really wanted the fireplace for aesthetic reasons, and not so much heat, we found a solution. We could have the beauty of a real flame without the chimney expense. Our solution was a  Bio Ethanol Fireplace insert. It works using a liquid fuel. No ashes, no firewood, no cinders burning the carpet or slate floor.

I then worked up a sketch for our contractor/super hero. Brent, being an engineer, came up with the specs and a drawing for reference to sizes. We pulled together a visual storyboard of sorts to communicate clearly what we wanted our contractor to build.

You will notice at the end of the Lanai we have split face stone on one wall. This gave us a natural jumping off point for choice of materials. We also had the other slider at the end of the Lanai removed as well as the kitchen ‘window” so I can enjoy the fireplace while washing dishes – LOL.

For the final touches we surrounded the Fireplace insert with crushed glass, the color of burning embers. Then Brent added a string of lights under the glass so that it was illuminated all around. We also added the stainless steel mid-mod cone lamps to each side of the fireplace for ambiance. All controlled by a double light switch with rheostats.

Overall it took about 3 + 1/2 weeks to get the project completed. It was great fun seeing it all come together. It will be just wonderful this Christmas to enjoy our new fireplace along with a cup of cheer! I can’t wait to hang a Christmas wreath over it!
Diane + Brent Dempsey

Some Retro Christmas Cards featuring fireplaces that you might like...

Mid Century Christmas Morning Christmas Cards

Mid Century Christmas Morning Christmas Cards

Do you remember that Christmas morning thrill? Our Mid Century Christmas Morning Christmas Cards show a retro living room decorated with an aluminum tree and filled with gifts.

Retro Stockings Christmas Cards

Retro Stockings Christmas Cards feature an illustration of Christmas stockings filled with toys from holidays past. The aluminum Tree sparkles next to the mid century fireplace in this nostalgic scene. It brings back memories of when a rag doll, sock monkey, or toy robot might have been on any kids Christmas list.


Mid Century Family

Our Mid Century Modern Family Christmas Card features a butterfly roof MCM house with a festive holiday gathering inside. Mom is preparing something delicious while Dad greets guests at the door. The teenagers cut a rug in front of a gleaming aluminum Christmas tree. This fun snapshot of Christmas past is an original illustration by Diane Dempsey.

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