Category: Fireplace & Residential
Location: Pittsford, NY
Size: 4,800 sq. ft.
Masonry Used: 400 sq ft: 2 fireplaces of thin sawn American granite in Summit, Ashlar, Mosaic, roughly sq. & rec.
Submitted by: Fran Springer Interiors

Project Description

In the winter of 2010, the Shumway's teamed up with Fran Springer, to create and build this hybrid timber frame home of their dreams. The focal point of the Great Room and Sun Room were two fireplaces, to be fully equipped with wood storage, & "Fireplace Xtrordinair" wood burning inserts, custom built in entertainment units flanking the grand hearth, and an authentic barn beam mantel in its natural weathered finish.

The turn to exceptional creativity and innovative materials came when the cultured stone had been selected, and the Shumways were not excited about the look. It was fake stone-and even though it looked like River Rock, we as a team had become sensitive to the natural beauty of this 30 acre parcel...and we wanted the interior to have the same character and charm. The foundation had already been built and prepped for a lighter weight material. Though one morning on top of Keuka Lake, in a Seventh Century Norman style Chapel, Fran Springer began to study the interior walls made of Pennsylvania Seam Granite.

Determined to find a look as coarse, weathered and natural, she finally searched and found Champlain Stone and Jamie Curtis, and began the study of the weight and feasibility of using thin cut American granite (vs. cultured stone), in 4 different granite types, in varying shapes and colors. It was confirmed that it would work. Within a week, and after viewing stone samples it was decided. Eve the thin cut fireplace cornerstones looked identical to a full thickness boulder, without the weight.

To add more character and functionality to the structure, Fran designed side wood storage and a crescent shaped soldier course around the top of each insert, and personally ventured onto several farms to find an "unblemished yet perfectly aged and worn" Barn Beam for the Great Room fireplace. Approximately 25 beams on 3 farms were sifted through. The jewel in the crown was found, and even mitered at the corners before it was installed.

Per the wishes of the Shumway's, the wood burning units that were used allowed the crackle and aroma of a genuine wood fire, and a built in convection system that circulates heat efficiently through their space, while bypass dampers reduced the opportunity for smoke to escape. Fran also had a mock up sample made of the stone layout, so that the client would get a sense for the color and texture of the stone as it went up the wall. Francis Dodd, one of the top masons in the area, was patient, and masterful in his efforts to grasp our vision. Not having worked a great deal with the thin cut granite, his finished product was outstanding.

The owner, Barbara and Fran Springer, both had an incredibly discerning eye when it came to balancing the wood finishes to keep it interesting. In finishing the entertainment unit that flanks the fireplace , the goal was to simulate the finish of the barn beam mantel, yet coordinate with the other wood finishes in the distressed hickory floor and cedar ceiling. It was a 17 layer finish, on Maple, that took months to produce a sample that was approved by the team. Finally it was a gift to the eye-so subtle, yet so many layers to make it so. We built a spacer next to the edge of the stone and barn beam mantel, as it turned the corner; then removed the spacer, and installed the unit behind the stone, making it look like the stone was cut around it.

While studying the final photograph of the Great Room fireplace, you will notice that it took time to create a balance with the two narrow units to the left and right sides of the fireplace, where we created wood storage on the bottom, flanking the hearth. We finished the interior with a heavy duty finish suitable for its use.

The attention to detail and craftsmanship has been a trademark of Fran Springer Interiors for the 29 years she has been in the Design and Construction business. She is an Allied Member of ASID, and a Professional member of the IDS. For the last 15 years her focus has strengthened in renovation and construction, as well as innovative interior architectural details, including stone and millwork.

Project Participants

Owner: Charles & Barbara Shumway

  • Architect/Desinger: Fran Springer, Fran Springer Interiors
  • Masonry Contractor: Francis Dodd, Francis Dodd Masonry
  • Masonry Supplier: Jamie Curtis, Champlain Stone