This Is The Iconic Type Of Fireplace You Should Incorporate In Your Home

Mid-century modern styles are enjoying a resurgence in interior design popularity. Perhaps it was the effect of great websites like House Digest that inspired you with decorating ideas like 10 Furniture Ideas For A Mid-Century Modern Home. Perhaps it was the preponderance of home improvement shows on television that sent you running to the local hardware store followed by a trip to a furniture outlet. Maybe your need to go retro was encouraged by a throwback streaming series populated with bouffant hairdos on women who wore A-line skirts and heels to work in an office with manual typewriters where people smoked at their desks. Okay, that part isn't very appealing, but the furniture is very on trend right now.

One of the most iconic mid-century decorating looks was found in the Malm fireplace. These vintage fireplaces were freestanding, colorful showpieces that drew the eye into the room. Incorporating an original or replica of a Malm fireplace adds instant style, says Homesthetics, who note that the 1960s-era burners now can be found in both wood-burning and gas-fired versions. Because they don't entail demolishing an entire wall or a big chunk of one to create space for a built-in fireplace, the Malm version is a less daunting home project to tackle if you want to add vintage panache to your house. Read on for more about these iconic fireplaces.

What makes the Malm fireplace design iconic

During the middle of the 20th century, American society experienced some fast-moving cultural shifts, and mid-century modern style was one of the happy results. The style came about as a result of the need for housing when military men returned from World War II, married and began having families. House Beautiful notes that while expediency and function were important design aspects of this period, art and beauty were valued, too. Families were populating larger tracts of land and enjoying the benefits of open concept designs, bigger windows, and unusual rooflines.

The Malm fireplace, with its quirky dome-like shape and exposed chimney, fit in well with the straight lines common in mid-century modern homes. As the martini culture took off (Tasting Table's vesper martini, anyone?), the fireplaces presented a great gathering spot for cocktails and conversation.

Contributing to the iconic look was the timeless open hearth that exposed the burning logs at eye level to anyone seated on a nearby couch or chair. Fireplaces of the 1920s, '30s and '40s were functional things, but suddenly they weren't just heat producers: They were romantic. Couples gazed at the fire and at each other. Very iconic!

Identifying Malm and other mid-century fireplaces

When a brand really hits the big time, it enters the vernacular, and the brand name becomes synonymous with the item. Think of that when you get on an escalator to go get an aspirin because the popsicle you ate after playing frisbee gave you a headache; all four of those things – escalator, aspirin, popsicle, and frisbee – are brand names that have become common names (via Insider). Malm has become the iconic name for the idiosyncratic, freestanding, mid-century, colorful fireplaces, but not all such fireplaces are manufactured by Malm. So how do you know the difference?

Atomic Ranch interviewed an expert to discover that three manufacturers accounted for the majority of the Malm-style fireplaces. They note that true Malm designs aren't usually brightly-hued, but rather are more often found in earthy colors. They always have a pedestal, but there were as many as 10 different styles.

Another popular manufacturer was Majestic. It, too, created fireplaces with pedestal bases, but featured a distinctive faceted or angled front opening. They created multiple styles, and had multiple bands around the chimney (or neck), as Malm did. Popular colors were red and red/orange.

The final manufacturer was Preway, which had just one style, one band around the chimney, three spindle-type legs, and was usually red or orange.

How to decorate with a freestanding fireplace

Calling a Malm fireplace a freestanding fireplace is the perfect nomenclature. In fact, the description for this iconic piece could not be more ideal. Picture a fireplace, and you typically imagine something in a wall. A freestanding one, however, gives you freedom that most other furnishings and finishings do not: freedom to place it just about anywhere you want.

Most of the time, the design style typical of a freestanding fireplace like a Malm, Preway or Majestic is such that eyes will be drawn to it the instant a person enters the room. Colors like red and orange tend to do that. Even the more neutral burnt siennas and buff yellows can be riveting in the right environment.

Homedit notes that the fireplace is great eye candy for seating areas. Their iconic profiles are perfect with similarly vintage sofas and chairs surrounding them, and if you happen to have large nearby windows, they make great focal points to add more depth and draw the eye to an outdoor view.

Homedit also presents a different way of looking at decorating with your detached fireplace. They say you may not want your Malm or other self-supporting fireplace to be the center of attention. If so, it can easily slip into a corner and blend comfortably into your décor. The surrounding furnishings are likely to be similar in hue or bolder in some way so that they take center stage rather than the unique fireplace.

Adding to the iconic mid-century vibe

Incorporating a Malm fireplace and its iconic mid-century aura into your home's interior design plan is a great start, but you may want to continue the vibe with a few other pieces to make your Malm feel more at home.

Real wood pieces in a minimalist style are a hallmark of the mid-century style, as we note in House Digest. In addition to coffee tables and sofa tables, it was common to have built-in bookshelves. Pay attention to the window coverings and big pillows ("poufs") on the furniture; they often would feature bold prints in bright colors.

Lighting is an oft-neglected part of any room's décor. Home Designing states that a space can feel more mid-century with a swing-arm lamp, especially one with a big globe shade. The lamp can spotlight the areas that need to be brightened and enhance the mid-century feel.

Architectural Digest reminds novices that even beginners can work in the mid-century style by incorporating some key concepts, such as maintaining clean lines, limiting clutter, and looking for timeless pieces. They point out the use of peg legs on furniture and great hardware of utmost simplicity on credenzas made of solid wood, though they also note that some excellent vintage pieces from the mid-century era were made with veneers and inlaid woods. In the end, great design should revolve around style that makes you happy.

Advantages of a freestanding fireplace

Beyond the envy of your friends that comes with incorporating a Malm fireplace into your decorating plan, there are other advantages to adding a freestanding fireplace. Many homes are built with fireplaces that are set into walls, which create sturdy, permanent structures that last for decades with proper maintenance, but those structures severely limit design options.

There are several advantages to going with a freestanding fireplace, such as a Malm style or other fireplace that isn't built into a wall. Quicken Loans outlines a number of advantages to fireplaces that stand alone. Two big reasons to go with an unattached fireplace are cost and ease of installation. In general, both are much lower than building a traditional fireplace, though many factors could come into play. If you purchase a vintage Malm fireplace, for example, the cost could be higher since you may be paying premium prices for the antique, especially if it's in excellent condition.

Installation would vary based upon your location and whether or not you would be doing all or part of the work yourself. For safety's sake, be sure to talk to your local fire department if you plan to install a fireplace yourself. Ask them to come and inspect it. You may also want to check the EPA's guidelines regarding wood-burning appliances.