How To Make An Inglenook Fireplace
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Inglenook fireplaces were once resided to old English homes, and cottages. They were used to heat cold, wet homes where there was no other source of heat. An inglenook fireplace with seating was one of the primary features of them, to gather, and keep people warm.
In our modern world today, the Inglenook fireplace has seen a comeback, perfectly suited to creating a rustic, farmhouse style look whether you have the quaint English cottage to match, or not.
Inglenooks are not normally a feature you’d find from the get go in a house unless it was an old English cottage. But whether you have an old cottage or a new build, it’s certainly possible to create your very own Inglenook.
In this article, we explore more about the Inglenook fireplace and how to make an inglenook fireplace in your home, cosy memories pending!
What Is An Inglenook Fireplace?
An inglenook fireplace is a seat which is recessed into the wall to the side of a fireplace, however the term is often used to describe any larger fireplace, whether or not such a seat is present. The word comes from “ingle”, an old Scots word for a domestic fire, and “nook”.
The History of The Inglenook Fireplace
The inglenook dates back to ancient England times, the fire that heated homes was right in the middle of a home, but around the Middle Ages this fire moved toward an outside wall and became a fireplace that became today.
There were needs for other things other than just a fire. Homeowners wanted to stack firewood, or a log might be too big to go on a normal fireplace, so the hood that was over this was designed to gather the smoke and urge it out of the home. Over time, this got bigger and bigger to the point it was essentially a room within a room. Thus, the inglenook was born.
It would have been used for many other purposes other than heating a home, including drying washing, drying wood for tomorrows fire, and for baking bread. They were commonly only seen in areas such as England which gained its reputation for always being wet, and cold.
How To Make An Inglenook Fireplace
Find A Chimney Breast
Once you make that decision to create an Inglenook fireplace there’s no easy way to go about it as it involves knocking into your chimney breast wall.
You will need a chimney breast, existing fireplace in situ to understand whether it will firstly be possible for you to have an inglenook fireplace setup. If you aren’t sure, always consult a fireplace expert.
Remove The Existing Fireplace
An inglenook is a recessed wall which houses the fire/stove inside, the extra room was typically used for storing wood, drying or baking. You may want to store wood in it but also add decor accessories to the floor.
The first step if you haven’t already done so is to remove the existing fireplace. Once you do so, you’ll have something that looks a little bit like this.
Opening Up The Fireplace
An inglenook is always typically much larger than the stove you want to place inside it. The aim here is to create a recessed wall with enough space for a stove, and space either side of it too. You should mark out on the wall the centre point, and how much bigger the hole needs to be become.
You need to widen the entrance by removing the brickwork and adding a lintel if necessary to provide structural support. This can cause structural issues if not done correctly, so it is always worth seeking professional advice.
This can be a VERY messy job, so move your furniture or cover everything as the red dust it throws up stains.
Repairing The Wall Bonding & Plaster
During the above process you’ll end up taking other parts of the wall plaster off, once the above is completed, add bonding and plaster to the wall to make the area good again.
Traditional inglenooks would have had the red brick behind the stove. However, when carving your own one out of the wall the finished look is likely not going to look anything like what you may have had in mind.
You may choose to keep it rustic looking with the existing brick, but another traditional choice is to add brick slips at the back. This creates a gorgeous, rustic and farmhouse style look.
Install The Stove
You may also choose to lay tiles or a hearth underneath during this point. Once fitted, you’re ready to install your stove! You’ll need a qualified fireplace specialist to help fit this successfully, and to ensure there are no blockages in your chimney. If your fireplace hasn’t been in action for a while, this is an absolute necessity.
Here is an inglenook I absolutely adore from Nicki’s beautiful home. I love her inglenook fireplace surround which has been finished with brick slip, a stone hearth and beautiful decorative finishes for a rustic, farmhouse style focal point in her living room.
Image source: Instagram
There you have it, your very own gorgeous Inglenook fireplace. I absolutely love the traditional look they bring to an interior, they particularly look the part in modern farmhouse style interiors. Are you a fan of an inglenook fireplace?
*This information is purely from personal experience and is not an expert opinion. Always consult a professional when altering a structural part to your property.
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Nicole is an experienced interiors writer and skilled home renovator who has a passion for all things design. With a keen eye for detail and a love of creativity, she shares her expertise on the latest interior trends, practical DIY tutorials, and styling inspiration to help others transform their homes into stunning spaces. With a commitment to delivering informative and engaging content, Nicole inspires and empowers readers to explore their own unique sense of style and create beautiful, personalised interiors.
Build an inglenook around a small fireplace
A fireplace doesn’t have to be a grand element in a formal living room reserved for occasional use. Instead, bring the warmth of a fireplace, one of the most appealing parts of a home, into your everyday living space.
If you have ever visited an original shingle-style, prairie, or Craftsman home, you likely understand why inglenooks—nooks or corners beside the fireplace—were prized for their inviting charm and notable detailing. Typically outfitted with built-in seating on each side of a sizable fireplace and open to a larger room, inglenooks hark back to the 17th century as a practical means of keeping warm. This element was revived around the turn of the 20th century to emphasize the importance of the hearth as a gathering place.
Reinterpreting the inglenook to serve smaller fireplaces, different hearth heights and configurations, and not-so-big rooms can bring this design gem from yesterday into today’s informal rooms.
Add a table to bring the family together
Boatlike scale and a sparkling fire in this inglenook create a relaxed haunt that is both a go-to spot as well as a getaway that seats four adults or six children. Adding a table between the traditional inglenook benches transforms the alcove into booth-style seating for game playing or casual dining. A modest fireplace raised above the tabletop allows those at the table and those in the adjacent room to enjoy the fire. The low vaulted ceiling reinforces the intimacy of the inglenook, while the trim details tie it to the rest of the room. The stout, tapered columns visually support the inglenook ceiling, and the chair rail, set at the height of the hearth, ties the adjoining spaces together, as does the continuous molding just above the column capitals. The wainscoting transitions easily into wooden benches. There’s plenty of storage for games, books, and puzzles with built-in shelves flanking the firebox and flip-top lids on the benches.
Position the fireplace where people gather
We spend a lot of our time with family and friends in the kitchen, so why not bring the fireplace into this popular gathering spot? With a breakfast bar across the front of a raised-hearth fireplace, a tile surround, and underlighted soffits, this end-wall niche creates a kitchen focal point and cozy destination.
Safely outside the primary kitchen work area, this elongated inglenook won’t interfere with a busy cook. Instead, it offers a location to rest: a place to grab a bite to eat, to chat, or to linger with a cookbook while enjoying the fireplace’s warmth. The inglenook counter space also could serve as a laptop station because it is removed from the wet area.
The back hearth of this small fireplace is set 4 in. above the 36-in.-high stone counters and backsplash. Beneath the counter, cubbies hold kitchenware, and the bottom shelf stores firewood. Windows on each side of the fireplace provide a view outdoors. Open shelves in each corner provide space for cookbooks and magazines. Matching bullnose trim on the window heads, cabinets, and shelves connects the inglenook wall to the rest of the kitchen.
A corner fireplace turns a room into an inglenook
Here, the fireplace itself isn’t part of a niche, but the flanking built-ins are. Framing the niches and the fireplace wall with trim unites the three components into a unified corner inglenook. The relatively modest room (about 200 sq. ft., with the ceiling at 7 ft. 6 in.) and the corner configuration of the fireplace extend the snug inglenook feeling to the entire room. Up to seven adults can leisurely enjoy this fireplace, while the ottomans provide alternative seating for those who want to draw particularly close to the fireplace.
At 36 in. wide by 36 in. tall, this Rumford-style firebox is large, but it isn’t grand. It appears more substantial because it’s part of a small space and because we tend to associate a flush hearth with larger fireplaces. Both the window seat to the left of the fireplace and the writing desk to the right include built-in shelving and soffits that help to set them apart from the room. Placing the fireplace on a 45° angle, however, allows those seated in the flanking niches to enjoy the fire, too.
Drawings: Katie Hutchison
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A fireplace in a castle and a modern alternative
Who wouldn’t want to live in an old medieval castle with a fireplace? Or maybe not in the old, but in the modern? And perhaps not in a castle, but in a house or apartment that looks like a castle? If this is your dream, then this article has found its reader.
Castles, as you know, are different – large and small, with knights and a paved driveway or miniature high-tech style with paintings by modern designers. But in any castle there should be a fireplace. This is the rule, without a fireplace, a castle is not a castle, but an average country house.
In order to create the atmosphere of an old castle in an ordinary city apartment, it is best to contact interior designers, or study style solutions and design trends on your own. We have collected some information on this topic.
The following features are typical for rooms in the style of a medieval castle:
- Stone in the interior, preferably natural. For example, in Europe, in many apartments, the floors are made of stone. This floor looks very stylish, the main thing is that the feet do not freeze in the cold season. To do this, you can put carpets with a long thick pile or artificial skins on the floor. By the way, the skin will look very appropriate in front of an electric fireplace.
- Heavy tapestries, curtains made of natural fabrics emphasize the style of an old castle.
- Chandeliers with lamps in the form of candles, sconces or floor lamps in wrought iron lampshades will be an interesting design solution.
- There are also style requirements for a fireplace – a fireplace in an old castle should be massive, it is advisable to purchase a portal made of stone or wood. Carved bas-reliefs and heads of animals or birds can crown the columns on the sides of the hearth or be mounted on a pedestal.
It is better to choose an electric fireplace for an apartment, as it is completely safe to use, easy to operate, and the flame in it is outwardly impossible to distinguish from the real one. Electric fireplaces are easy to install. In addition, such fireplaces can be assembled to your liking, for example, you can buy a separate hearth and a separate portal. Or order a portal with an individual design, for example, with a monogram.
This bedroom is an example of installing a fireplace in a city apartment in the style of an old castle. True, this style is more like a mixture of colonial motifs and the Victorian era.
For more effect, you can put knight armor next to the fireplace, but if you have limited space or a small budget, a fireplace set with a knight is quite suitable. Do not forget about the fireplace screen, which can be styled for any era.
Fireplaces in a country house or in a real castle can be wood-burning or electric. In the first case, the cost of the fireplace will increase, specialists will have to deal with its installation, and when operating the fireplace, it will be necessary to strictly adhere to fire safety rules.
If a country house or apartment does not look like a medieval castle, but you still want to add a touch of antiquity, then you can successfully combine modern style with any other, for example, Gothic. An example is a bedroom in the project of famous designers.
From gothic in it – minimalism, huge windows, oak panels, bay windows, stylized chandeliers. All this looks very good in collaboration with modern notes – a stylish and concise electric fireplace, natural materials, a minimum of objects, a lot of space.
Thus, even if you are not a happy owner of a family castle, it is enough to simply recreate it in your apartment, the main thing is to convey the spirit of your favorite era, create comfort and, of course, do not forget about the fireplace.
Do-it-yourself fireplace in the country: master class, step-by-step photos
The presented material is a continuation. See the beginning in the article “How to make a fireplace in the country.”
- Step 6 Decorative wedge lock
- Step 7 we cover the fireplace chamber and install the heat exchanger
- Step 8 – install the walls
Step 6 Decorative wedge lock
The appearance of the fireplace is very advantageous when there are special decorative elements on its facade. Shelves, niches and various locks can be considered as such elements.
In order to make a wedge lock for our fireplace, we take 6 full-fledged bricks and lay them out on a flat and horizontal surface at an angle to each other (without a central element).
Place the bricks in a corner, mark them and be sure to number them.
Then make the middle of the castle structure by sawing a wedge out of a solid brick. These works are best done with a “grinder” with a power of up to a kilowatt, cutting off a brick with a cutting wheel with a diamond coating on ceramics.
The lock is ready, it remains only to install it in the right place in the masonry.
Before “seating” in the masonry, install it in the place where it will be installed, and without the use of mortar. Everything should be installed smoothly, and the slope in both directions should be symmetrical.
We install the wedge lock “dry” – without adjusting mortar.
Then we measure out two bricks on each side in order to cut off their ends and make them fixing from the edges. And then we “seat” the entire structure of the castle onto the solution.
The lock is in place.
After the lock is installed, our task is to raise the walls of the fireplace insert to the desired level (1 row above the fireplace door).
Step 7 we make the overlap of the combustion chamber of the fireplace and install the heat exchanger
It is very important to lay out fireplaces (stoves) and at the same time use metal objects as little as possible to create ceilings in places where there is a possibility of high temperatures. The highest temperature is observed near the roof of the combustion chamber. In this regard, it is necessary to make the vault in such a way that it does not have to be used to cover it with metal corners. The easiest way is to make the vault of the firebox narrow and close on the third row of masonry. To do this, we use the scheme – the first row of overlap – we use a brick long = ¾ of a brick, the second row of overlap is a solid brick, and the third row is a strapping one, for a lintel.
Lay the bricks of the first row of the cofferdam. We cut off the lower edge of the bricks both in length and from below at an angle. To make them fall inward, we press their ends with bricks.
The heat exchanger for the home heating system is made from a corrugated pipe made of stainless steel. At this stage (let’s call it “fitting”), our task is to prepare a place in which the heat exchanger will be installed in the future. Our task is to place it in front of the hood opening in the chimney. Here the highest speed of convection flows, and hence the heat transfer will be the highest. It is imperative to use high alloy stainless steel pipe for two reasons.
- The temperature in this part of the furnace can reach up to 700 degrees, which means that ordinary steel will give scale from interaction with oxygen, gradually collapsing. Typically, the service life of devices that use heat exchangers placed in an open flame is no more than three years, then they have to be dismantled. In our case, we would have to disassemble the fireplace masonry.
- The second condition why a stainless steel pipe is used is a highly aggressive environment during the “inactivity” of the fireplace. The fact is that the composition of the smoke is active substances that, interacting with water droplets that have fallen in the form of condensate on the heat exchanger, turn into carbonic acid and gradually corrode the pipe made of ordinary steel.
This is how the groove for the heat exchanger looks like.
To avoid additional heat loss from the heat exchanger to the brickwork, it is necessary to make thermal insulation. The best option is to make it from 5 mm thick basalt cardboard.
We prepare the heat exchanger for wrapping with basalt cardboard.
When carrying out such work, it is necessary to take into account the factor of the total thickness, which will be after you have completed the thermal insulation. It should not be more than the thickness of one brick. This is necessary in order to ideally place this device in the fireplace masonry. The second prerequisite is that when wrapping, this procedure must be performed separately for each branch of the heat exchanger.
When winding the basalt cardboard in the form of a “roll”, be sure to wrap it in such a way that there are no waves and irregularities, this is very important when installing the device in the masonry so that it sits firmly and does not “dangle” after the fireplace is put into operation.
Many years of experience in the installation of such devices has shown that the most reliable and functional device for fastening basalt cardboard is the usual twisting of copper wire with a diameter of 1 mm.
First, we finish the work on thermal insulation of one branch, then proceed to the same procedure on the second part of the heat exchanger. It is necessary to make at least four twists per 50 cm of thermal insulation.
Isolate the second part of the tube.
If you see defects in the laying of thermal insulation, it is better to redo this part of the work.
After both parts of the heat exchanger are thermally insulated, we need to tie them together.
The heat exchanger is ready, it remains to place it in the prepared groove of the firebox.
Place the heat exchanger in the masonry. We make sure that it lies vertically, and its thickness is not more than the thickness of the brick row of masonry
We install the heat exchanger in the masonry.
If all is well, seal it with mortar and press down with the next row of masonry. Thoroughly coat with a solution all the places where the rows pass so that the tightness of the combustion and convection chambers is not broken.
A well-sealed seam will give you a reliable guarantee that the oven will not emit smoke into the convection chamber, and therefore into the room.
The heat exchanger is ready for operation – the tightness of the seams does not raise any complaints!
Efficiency of fireplaces is always a sore subject for their owners, usually up to 75% of heat escapes into the chimney. In winter, such devices heat the street, not the house. To increase the usefulness of fireplaces, various tricks are used. The simplest thing is to change the vault of the combustion chamber, to make it not exactly rectangular, but in the form of a trapezoid. To do this, the first row of the overlap of the combustion chamber is cut at an angle, and then a jumper is made over it with the upper row. This method creates additional areas of turbulence in the firebox and thus improves the efficiency of the fireplace.
The first row of lintel above the firebox is made of bricks ¾ long with the bottom edge cut off. Above it is a row of strapping. A heat exchanger is placed in the outlet of the exhaust gases.
The entire firebox, including the rows of lintels, must be made of fireclay bricks. The fact is that the M-150 ceramic brick used does not make it possible to operate the fireplace for ten years without any repair, unlike fireclay bricks.
The combustion chamber is ready. The rows of binding of the firebox securely fix the bricks of the vault. The chimney opening must be at least 300 cm2.
Step 8 – Installing the walls
Let’s start installing the walls of the fireplace. It is very important to observe the verticality of the fireplace design and its linear dimensions. Two stretched threads fixed at the base can be considered a very reliable assistant.
Making the fireplace cover and removing the outer walls.
There is a very subtle technique for laying fireplaces at this stage of work. Usually the fireplace is designed in such a way that its upper part is hollow. This is usually a sheet of drywall over the casing of the fireplace insert cassette and that’s it. The main heat transfer occurs when the fireplace is heated. As soon as the fire goes out, there is a very rapid cooling of the rooms that it heated. Therefore, many homeowners often consider fireplaces in their home interiors more as a decoration than an element of the heating system. Let’s do a little trick to get away from this stereotype. Our fireplace has two convection chambers. They work on the principle of natural air movement (when heated, it expands, becomes lighter and rises, it is replaced by cold, heavier air from below). Our task is to make this process last as long as possible. To do this, we must increase the mass of heated bricks in the fireplace masonry.
The easiest way to do this is to increase the volume of masonry above the firebox so that during the combustion process this part heats up and then gives off heat for a longer time to the air currents passing through the convection chambers. We need to raise eight rows of masonry around the chimney above the combustion chamber. This will ensure the accumulation of heat by the masonry for at least 6-8 hours of space heating.
Draw a decorative element on the outside of the masonry. It complements the lower shelf above the blower door and organically completes the top of the fireplace.
What a fireplace without decorative elements, let’s start laying a decorative ledge.
We make a ledge according to the principle of pushing the brick outward along ¼ of its width. We make a ledge along the entire length of the perimeter.
Initially, we lay out a solid brick on the ledge. We fill all the incomplete parts of the brick with cut-off “grinder” bricks.
If you feel that the masonry is falling outward, try placing a metal corner under the base of the row that has begun to move.
A metal corner has been placed under the top row of the tab. It will remain in the masonry until the next row of masonry is laid.
After two rows of ledge have been laid out, start narrowing the masonry by ¼ of the brick.
Finishing the formation of the decorative ledge.
Convection chamber vent, living room side.
We have to finish the convection chambers above the decorative ledge, because the masonry temperature drops again towards the chimney exhaust and the efficiency of the system will noticeably decrease. You can conduct an experiment – light a match and bring the flame to the convection hatch while stoking the fireplace. If the flame is “blown out”, then the convection chambers work perfectly and they can heat up a large room. If the flame fluctuates, but continues to burn, then the exhaust hatches are made high, or the thickness of the walls between the convection chamber and the firebox is very thick and the air does not have time to warm up from passing through this section of the fireplace.
Install the exhaust hatches located on the side of the bedroom. There are two of them, one for each convection chamber. To make laying easier, we put a brick in each exhaust hole without mortar, and then go up the rise of the masonry rows.