Downtown Loft Warms Up: Barn Wood, Birch and Steel Fireplace

Our Downtown Des Moines loft-owning clients returned when they needed help re-facing their existing gas fireplace. Previously, our team had worked on updating their kitchen island, bathroom and a freestanding entertainment area; a project with some out-of-the-box ideas, including incorporating a silver maple tree stump into a 16-foot long stainless steel kitchen island. Check out the blog detailing the previous project in Project in Progress: Industrial Greets Nature in a Loft Transformation.

New fireplace in downtown Des Moines loft featuring salvaged barn wood, baltic birch and raw steel was designed and built by Silent Rivers Design+Build

The combination of raw steel, smooth Baltic birch and organic barn wood played in tremendous harmony for this project, naturally connecting with the rest of the renovated loft interior.


Looking for more out-of-the-box ideas for addressing the last remaining interior element with black granite, the client asked us to think about the fireplace reface and to merge it with the previously renovated space. The original enclosure was cladded in tile, an element the young couple felt was unfitting, considering the update of their home was primarily comprised of steel and wood. So, we went to work and visually connected the new surface with the beauty of this organic loft atmosphere.

Design considerations included creating a solution that did not impede the existing concrete ceiling and accommodating several existing electrical fixtures as well as sprinkler lines on the ceiling. The frame of the fireplace enclosure was well built, and the original size was adequate so we did not have to alter the proportions significantly to achieve the aesthetic we were going for.


A Beautiful Design and Natural Materials Create an Inviting Ambience

By using several smooth birch shelves and “stepping” them up as the composition move upward, the mass of the enclosure becomes lighter in height and provides extra storage for accent pieces and other decorative elements. We used a blend of several materials with varying textures and colors. Most of the new surface is comprised of recycled barn boards in their organic character with open knots and twists. The clear Baltic birch material soften the roughness of the individual barn boards. Some of the shelves completely wrap around, for a gentle contrast between the old weathered wood and the new shiny birch plywood.


Baltic birch shelving in unique design on salvage barn wood fireplace in downtown Des Moines loft designed by Silent Rivers Design+Build

The Baltic birch shelving helps create depth and add interest to this unique fireplace. The shelving is perfect for accent pieces that add another layer to the functionality.


Keeping the Space Harmonious

The corners were treated with strips of raw steel – reminiscent of the entertainment center that we completed in our first renovation of this loft. Silent Rivers artisan Kevin Jepson created a special concealed fastener to enhance the minimalistic look of the steel elements.

Around the fireplace unit we used untreated plate steel for function and aesthetic appeal. The depth of the black metal and its minimalistic edge contrast well with the worn wood grain and provide the necessary fire resistance. The same material was used for the recessed hearth, which helped us to blend  the concrete floor and the steel in one smooth surface.

Raw steel of new fireplace in downtown Des Moines loft complements design of entertainment center built by Silent Rivers

The raw steel of the fireplace enclosure helps blend this new piece with the entertainment center we built during a previous renovation phase of this project.



downtown Des Moines loft fireplace designed and built by Silent Rivers

Raw steel material is used on both the entertainment center and on the corners of the fireplace enclosure. A side view of the new surround showcasing the wrap-around, graduated accent shelving.


See more photos of this and other stunning Condos & Lofts in our Project Gallery »


Project in Progress: Industrial Greets Nature in a Loft Transformation

Project in Progress: Industrial Greets Nature in a Loft Transformation


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