The word Inglenook translates literally as “chimney corner”. Invented during mid to late fifteenth century, this particular type of fireplace was originally limited in use to the very wealthy and would only have been seen in castles, monasteries and ecclesiastical buildings Their popularisation amongst the rest of society did not come about until a full century later. The open fireplace was the only means of heating, cooking and damp control within a house right up until the 19th Century, which is why they are so large and prominent features in the homes they occupy- they really were the centre point of family activity. After temporarily dying out- due to the introduction of more advanced methods of heating and cooking, the Arts and Craft movement- in its mission to reinstall tradition and workmanship back into British design- bought back the medieval style inglenook fireplaces.
If you are unfamiliar with the Inglenook, chances are you have sat right next to, or even inside one and not noticed. If you have ever enjoyed an afternoon in a traditional country pub- the type that still serves stout with a name like “Gentleman’s Foot” or “Badgers Candle”, and you remember the wide, brick build chimneybreast with a corner missing and a seating area set within the frame and a freestanding dog grate that held the traditional log fire, then you have indeed bore witness to the rustic charm of an Inglenook fireplace.
Including an Inglenook fireplace in your new living room scheme is definitely a great a great idea. Perfect in a rustic setting or modern barn conversion, an Inglenook brings so much charm and homeliness that you will wonder how you could have lived such a cold and chilly existence before you had one.
In a country cottage set up you should situate your Inglenook in the kitchen- which will be the heart of the house. The rustic kitchen should have open shelves, hutches, buffets, plate racks and cupboards for storage. Often, country kitchen storage is crammed with stoneware pots, plain glazed earthenware and glass jars. Kitchen pots should be made of copper, steel or cast iron and cookware tends to be large and plain. Use the open shelving to display plates, dishes and dinnerware collections. Natural woods, light colours and bright fabrics work great for window treatments. Adding a rustic butcher’s block kitchen island adds authentic rugged functionality.
If you are including your Inglenook in a modern style barn conversion you need to decorate in a manner that is sympathetic to both old English design and contemporary trends. To do this without creating a look that is forced or overly themed it is best to make the Inglenook the central focus of an open plan space and apply proper restraint when finishing the room to create a classy minimal look that has warmth and character. Plain plastered white walls should sit next to bare brick and stone and panes of glass should be allowed to create simple contrast next to untreated wood and steel.