Having second thoughts about raised hearth fireplace

Mom23EsApril 5, 2012

My MIL told me she thought raised hearths were a thing of the 80s. She is the absolute last person I should listen to about home design advice, but of course now that she said it I can't stop wondering if I'm making a mistake. I grew up in a house built in the 70s with a raised hearth and I loved sitting on the hearth in front of a warm fire. When the builder asked what we wanted, I didn't even think about it and said raised hearth. We are not hanging our tv above the fireplace; we saved some wall space specifically for our tv. We do have young kids now who I will worry about for a few years, but we plan on living in this house for decades so i don't want to base this decision off of a couple of years in the beginning.

Here's our family room floor plan. On both sides of the fireplace we will have built in storage bench seating. The longer wall segment on the right side of this photo/drawing is where we will be putting a tv. (We wanted to be able to see the tv from the kitchen which is the space on the left side of the family room.) We plan on putting an L-shaped sectional in the room. Our goal is to create a casual cottage/farmhouse style feel in our house.

So please give me some opinions. Are raised hearths outdated? Do you think our space will feel too small with a raised hearth? Will it be too rustic looking? (No antlers hanging above the mantel! lol!) TIA for your thoughts. :)

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Hope not, I have two. I like to sit on the hearth when there is a fire - it's extra seating even when there is no fire. Not that it really matters, if YOU like it, then do it!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:20PM
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Actually, I think having a fireplace is a thing of the past. They don't close up well, leaking heat up he chimney when no fire is burning, draw far too much air when there is a fire burning, and cool off other parts of the house where all that excess combustion air must leak into the house in the first place. Then, too, if your chimney is on an exterior wall and not enclosed by the wall framing, then construction of a good air/weather seal between masonry and framing/siding is difficult to get right and have it last for decades. Moreover, fireplaces are a terrible means of heating a house, if backup heat is part of the intent.

Still, a lot of people like to have a wood fire to watch, as I do too. I think a much better option is a good wood stove, with outside air kit to draw combustion air directly from outside if the house is very tight (as any new house ought to be). A good stove with glass door in front gives a good view of the fire, the fire burns cleaner (with less or no smoke to annoy neighbors), and does a far better job of providing real heat to the house, for backup heat or to cut the fuel bill.

If you do go with a fireplace with hearth, my only thought on a raised hearth is that the corners and edges could be a hazard to small children. They horse around and fall, and you wouldn't want a kid to crack his head on an edge.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:42PM
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I have one! It's actually from an addition to the farmhouse in the 1950s, so I don't think a raised hearth is necessarily 1970s. Maybe the reason we don't see them as often, in newer homes...is that it takes more labor to build up the hearth. To me, that would say custom, not dated :)

As for the kids, do be careful with the corners. I'm still trying to decide what to put on ours, just in case the nieces/nephews come over.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:45PM
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It might help if you posted pictures of what you would like the hearth to look like.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 2:45PM
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Curbs, sidewalks & rocks all have sharp edges, even furniture! You can't protect them from everything...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:36PM
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I do not think raised hearths are out if style! I think it depends entirely on the style of your room which type you use. Our room is kind of "dressy" with lots of trim and an ornate overmantle. I wanted a Carrara marble surround, and it would have just looked wrong to have a raised hearth. I am not even sure what material I would have used, brick or stone would have just looked odd. The marble extends about 2ft or so (whatever code is) on the floor in front of the opening. Anyway, I have friends who have built craftsmen style homes and Nantucket syle homes, all with raised stone hearths, and they look lovely. Oh, they do take up space, though...I would plot it to scale on your plan to make sure it didn't interfere with furniture, walk ways, etc...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:54PM
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Oh, and we did do a raised hearth on our outdoor fireplace on our terrace...it is nice to sit there!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Nycefarm- I don't get furniture with sharp edges, either. All my tables are oval or have rounded corners...same thing with the countertop edges. It's not just kids, but I don't like bumping into sharp edges, either!

Then again, curbs and sidewalks aren't a problem in the country...and with all our clay, the only rock we usually see is the gravel in the driveway :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 4:22PM
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We are putting in a raised hearth in our new home! I love them too :) We are having built-in bookcases on either side and a mantle across all of it.

I was inspired by this:

But I'm using pebbles like these to go all over it:

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Jack Kennedy

Raised hearths come across more casual.

Non raised hearths are more formal.

Raised hearths are great for family rooms, keeping rooms, and casual entertaining spaces.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:44PM
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My concern with your set up isn't the hearth height, but rather its protrusion.

Have you mocked this layout to determine if when one sits on the sides/storage benches you feel part of the room and not like you are sitting in a hole? It appears that the fireplace/hearth protrude into the space much further than the bench seating.

If you look at the hearth/fireplace pictures above, you will see that the bench seating/side bookcases are more or less even with the front of the fireplace and the seating is even with the hearth edge.

Just wondering how yours will feel and function as a seating space.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 2:06PM
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Mom23Es- Have you considered an Inglenook, rather than the raised hearth? You seem to have the perfect layout for one...just another idea :) From Snow White album From Snow White album

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 3:09PM
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We have a nice looking foam cover for our raised hearth. We love to take if off for parties but it has certainly prevented some injuries for our 2 year old.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Thank you so much for all your ideas and opinions. Thankfully the builder told me we can wait until the house is framed to make a decision on it. Whew. He even suggested using cardboard to mock up our furniture arrangement- for the fireplace decision as well as electrical outlet and air vent decisions. I really do love working with our builder.

As I keep trying to find the fireplace style I lIke, I keep gravitating to more formal white wood mantel and surrounds with matte black tile/stone (not sure what the material is). I guess I like the idea of how a raised hearth functions but I prefer the look of a hearth that's flush to the floor.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:38PM
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Usually that black surround is slate...my neighbor has it...looks wonderful! We did marble, but slate was a very close 2nd.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 9:45PM
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I would try to avoid designing a raised hearth as if it were an after thought. I believe a hearth should be flush with the flooring or raised enough for sitting and incorporated into the surrounding cabinet work.

In other words, you should be able to walk in front of the fireplace without tripping over a raised obstacle protruding into the room. This can require that the fireplace be partially recessed into the adjoining space or the hearth can be curved to reduce the sense of intrusion into the room but since the hearth has a practical function with minimum dimensions, a curved hearth can get pretty large but that can be a good thing.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 11:11AM
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