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Shelves, steel, and black paint worked wonders on the fireplace.

A focal point by default, the fireplace in this remodeled house drew more attention than it deserved. With a bit of cosmetic surgery, Palm Desert, California, designer John Krause made it less prominent though still dramatic and attractive.

To cover the concrete-block hearth, an iron shop fabricated a box from 1/8-inchthick diamond-plate steel. Black paint visually ties the box to the fireplace's plastered ornamental hood. To focus just on flames in the firebox, Krause removed the grate and artificial logs and covered the

rigid gas line with black lava cinders.

For the shelf-ledges and side walls that flank and somewhat absorb the fireplace, Krause built cabinet-like units of 3/4-inch plywood, moved them into position, and screwed them to the wall studs. The lower sections rest on the floor; the side walls, covering the sides of the concrete-block chimney and glued directly to them, rise from the top shelf to the ceiling.

Each lower section's C-shaped front panel was cut from a single sheet to promote rigidity. At the open end of each C, the cantilevered top shelf was tied to the top of the unit's 2-by-4-reinforced back wall, while plywood end panels also help support the cantilevered shelf.

To achieve the look of stucco, Krause taped all joints and used textured paint on all vertical surfaces. The display surfaces are painted with easy-to-clean semigloss of the same color. Incandescent tubes in plastic-covered wells along the shelves' back edges help light displays.
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Date:Apr 1, 1989
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