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The fireplace as room divider ... good reasons.

A room-dividing fireplace can suggest a wall without being one. Although it partially screens your view beyond, it lets you walk or see around it into the next room. In today's smaller houses, this sharing of space and light makes each room seem larger than if a full wall stood in the way.

Although each firebox requires a box-shaped housing, the overall design of the surround can assume many forms, with curving or angled sides, stairstepped details, or simple cube shapes. In each of the six examples shown here, the fireplace becomes the sculptural focal point in its setting.

The two fireplaces shown above, both made of masonry, have fireboxes open to more than one side. Because of the weight of their materials, they required more massive load-bearing structures underneath and cost more than their prefabricated steel counterparts.

The four on the opposite page have zero-clearance prefabricated units. These are housed in shells with a wooden stud frame and either a gypsum board or plaster exterior. Some incorporate wooden shelves or cabinets for storage or display.

Because prefabricated units are relatively lightweight, you can place them anywhere on the floor without additional support beneath, making them especially adaptable for remodeling. You could remove a nonbearing wall between two rooms and add a room-dividing fireplace with no other structural work besides providing a chimney (typically made of sections of triple-wall steel pipe). A properly sized hearth and surround made of noncombustible materials will be required; their size will vary with the unit and local building code.

Prices for prefabricated units range from $700 to $1,300. This includes the firebox, chimney sections, glass doors, and ducts for outside air. You can also order, at extra cost, fan systems for circulating air around the firebox to gain more heat.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1985
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