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Sneak Peek: Brookline floating fireplace

Our mid-century modern gets an iconic secondary heat source

To keep things toasty in cold New England weather, the Brookline homeowners wanted a fireplace—but one that would complement the open-plan layout and expanses of glass in their mid-century modern house.

Solution: an artisan-crafted, black-steel Paxfocus fireplace that creates an iconic modern look and is seemingly suspended in midair.

To work the magic, the TOH team had to prepare the living room wall with special framing materials—partly for fire code and partly to handle the weight of the 200-pound bell-shaped fireplace, which would be attached to a wall bracket 20 inches above floor level. Contractor Charlie Silva’s crew had built the wall behind the fireplace with metal framing studs, and they added mineral wool insulation and commercial-grade cement board topped with a layer of plaster. A steel bracket, designed and engineered for this particular fireplace, was attached to the metal studs.

On a cold January day, a team from European Home, a Middleton, MA, design firm that specializes in European-style fireplaces, arrived to install the fireplace and matching black-steel stovepipe—with TOH host Kevin O’Connor lending a hand. The endeavor required heavy lifting to get the fireplace onto the bracket, and then a coordinated effort inside and out to install the stovepipe—one person high up on a ladder in the living room, another outside on the roof dropping the stovepipe into position.

Although the Paxfocus can be either a gas or a wood-burning fireplace, the homeowners had chosen gas, so the final step was installing the 38,000-BTU vented gas burner, a task accomplished by the licensed plumbers from Bilo Plumbing & Heating. “With that level of BTUs, this is also a great source of secondary heat,” says Kevin, who was given the honors for the final moment of proof. He pointed the remote at the fireplace, tapped the button—and then there was fire!