All Articles on Lakeview Townhomes


Fireplaces generate a lot of heat. Both for open living areas like these in five townhomes overlooking Lake Union near downtown Seattle, as well as to the sales pitch for the developer. Trim kits for economical, off-the-shelf, non-venting gas inserts, however, aren’t so appealing and would get swallowed up by the double-height spaces. Architect Sean Bell speced the inexpensive fireplace units and then increased their hotness factor by designing an oversized surround and elongated hearth.

“I felt the tall living space needed a bigger than usual fireplace,” Bell says, “so we decided to design and custom fabricate our own steel surrounds that fit the character of the architecture and the scale of the living space.” Like with most townhouses, these layouts are long and narrow. Bell needed to generate a big statement without taking depth away from usable floor space. A ¼’-thick steel plate was cut and bent by Specialty Metals in Kirkland, Wash., while the 14-foot long hearth was cut from a slab of unfinished Mahogany. Bell had the slab split in half and used the twin 20-inch-deep hunks, live edge facing outward, in the two front units of the development. Hot-rolled steel and raw wood add warmth to the industrial material palette that also includes concrete, bamboo, and stainless steel.