The Evolution of the Fireplace-Ready to Snuggle?!

Oct 28, 2019

Hi Friends! I hope you are having a great week! What an amazing week for me! We had the launch party for Segreto Impressions with the people whose homes or projects were in the book! So much fun! I also loved seeing so many of you at DASH and hearing such great reviews on the book! With fall in the air, visions of snuggling up in your favorite chair with a good design book come to mind! So, flame up those fireplaces on a cool, crisp night, relax and enjoy!

Fireplaces have been used since the Stone Age serving as the only heat source, as well as the only option for cooking and baking! Today, they are still used for heat (maybe not in Houston) yet have transformed into a decorative element bringing families together. But how did they evolve?

In the middle ages, holes were dug in the center of the room for the wood and in the thatched roof ceilings for the smoke to escape. Imagine the constant worry of the ambers igniting those roofs!

The more affluent built homes out of stone, and some are still standing today. I had to show this one, the wood inset into the plaster walls is to die for!!


Beginning in the 11th century, two-story buildings were more common. Chimneys were moved to the outside wall allowing for a fireplace on each floor and redesigned to create a draft and expel the smoke vertically! The photo above is what survives at Aydon Manor (1300 AD) in Scotland. The openings were large, allowing for a bigger fire and more heat. Think about the smoke intake the people of the day inhaled!


In the 1600s and early 1700s, a typical fireplace was wide and deep with an open recess. These walk-in fireplaces were normally designed without a mantel. They were large in scale so they had ample room for cooking and heating!

The reclaimed fireplaces from the past are still used today, like this beauty from Houston’s own Chateau Domingue, seen in the newly released Segreto Impressions coffee table book. I loved collaborating with architectural consultant Sarah West on this lovely home.

In 1600 AD, Prince Rupert of Rhine, nephew of King Charles I, invented the fireplace grate allowing air to reach the wood from underneath and fuel the fire. This beautiful reclaimed fireplace is from Renouveau Antiques. The home’s interiors, designed by James Mol, are featured in the second full home spread in Segreto Impressions!

In the 1900s, with the introduction of central heat, fireplaces were relied on less for heat, and design became more of a factor! Hard to imagine though this look was all the rage in the late 60’s when my house was built!

I wish I had known then what I do now! The brick could have been slurried!!


Or plastered over giving it a modern, clean feel. Most plasters have a fire retardant quality which is perfect for reinventing your fireplace!

Today we have taken our love for plaster to heart and developed our own signature SegretoStone line. Many fireplaces we build on-site, but now we also offer pre-cast plaster fireplace mantles, built off-site and easy to install!

My daughter Kirby, who has taken over our Instagram account, always gets lots of likes on our alternative to stone or concrete versions. If you don’t follow us, take a peek at our Instagram page!

Here is another design of ours. The mantle was made off-site, installed and then we coated the overmantle on the job to create quite a statement in the room. For more fireplace inspiration follow my Pinterest page. I hope you are all snuggling up by your fireplace with someone special!

For those who have ordered your books already, they are shipping this week! I hope you all enjoy it, as this one truly is my favorite to date!! Love you all! Till next week! Xo Leslie

  • Design Chic
    Posted at 06:32h, 28 October Reply

    I love reading about the evolution of fireplaces. Your limestone is a favorite – chic and sophisticated. Happy Monday, sweet friend!

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 07:47h, 29 October Reply

      You will get to cozy up to one in your neck of the woods! We have to turn the air on to be able to use ours!! xo

  • Anne Toone
    Posted at 14:04h, 28 October Reply

    Great history lesson on fireplaces…really enjoyed! So excited that your book is shipping this week…can’t wait!!! Have a wonderful week.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 07:48h, 29 October Reply

      Hi Anne! it shipped yesterday! I can’t wait for you to see!! xo

  • michele@hellolovelystudio
    Posted at 19:01h, 03 November Reply

    This was a treat, Leslie. I am always intrigued by all of the innovative ways your firm is celebrating plaster! It truly is a magical material, and I love it even more as I see how creatives like you keep pushing the envelope. πŸ™‚

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 05:14h, 04 November Reply

      I should name my next boor for the love of plaster!! Hope you are doing well my friend!! xo

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