A modern closed fireplace always consists of two elements:
1) the fireplace block: this is the metal and refractory material unit where the fire burns and this is where the smoke outlet and hot air pipes start. We always recommend purchasing the fireplace unit from top manufacturers, as they can provide all the certifications required for a quality product and ensure access to any fiscal subsidies.
2) the cladding: this is the external decorative part of the fireplace. Manufacturers provide the claddings available in their catalogues, though by following some basic rules you can also create your own cladding yourself with the support of a good craftsman or your architect.
A free design of the fireplace cladding is the best solution when you want it to fully customise it to suit your interiors. Here below are some interesting ideas we selected together with architect Paola Cesaro, a consultant at MCZ who takes care of providing design support for professionals or individuals who want a “tailor-made suit” for their fireplace.
1. Focusing on convenience: the fireplace cladding designed as a container unit.
The idea of “enveloping” the fireplace with a container element, rather than separating it from the rest of the interiors is interesting. This is a solution that combines aesthetics and practicality and offers, for instance, the convenience of putting your stock of wood in a closed place, as well as all the accessories used for the maintenance of the fireplace.
Here below are two examples. In the first one, the corner fireplace is inserted into a wide MDF box featuring lit-up compartments and convenient cabinets (project of MADE Architetti from Treviso, Italy). In the second example, the basaltina stone cladding has a recess with a door nicely built in it (project of Studio Paìs, Bergamo).
2. The “minimal” solution: the plasterboard-only cladding.
Simple fireproof plasterboard is a solution that fits in with any kind of interiors. The fireplace unit is installed with no additional elements or decorations, just its frame and this is usually supplied as standard by the manufacturer. This is a choice focusing on an extremely clean design with a great impact, where fire takes centre stage on the wall and the room itself.
White plasterboard is a very common solution and works well both with big and small fireplaces. In the photo here below a total white cladding is used for a pellet fireplace (Vivo 90 pellet of MCZ).
If you're not a fan of total white, you can paint the plasterboard. Use water-based, synthetic or eco-friendly paint, as it is more resistant to the high temperatures generated in the cladding. Instead avoid tempera and oil paint (for other information read this article on colourful fireplaces).
When selecting a coloured coating, we recommend choosing hot air vents that can be painted as well. For instance, in the solution here below the original vents were made of white metal, but have been covered with the same colour chosen for the fireplace (project of architect Bignucolo in Polcenigo, Italy).
3. Making the most of heat: the cladding with an exposed flue.
There is often a tendency to conceal the flue piping inside the cladding, as it is not considered aesthetically appealing. When instead the flue has a regular, straight design, bringing out its value by leaving it fully exposed is a very effective solution and not just from an aesthetic point of view. Indeed, smoke releases heat as it moves up and given that it is not “blocked” by the cladding, it naturally and quickly spreads into the room.
In the example here below the top part of the polished steel flue was intentionally left exposed to conveniently heat up the mezzanine created under the roof (project of architect Giorgio Parise).