Celebrating Fireside Season in Style

Montana interior design firm owner Jeremiah Young shares tips and tricks for cozy fireplace style
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Seating in this high-ceilinged Kibler & Kirch-designed room is traditional in tone to complement the polished oak fireplace, with tall backs to center conversation space and lush textures for comfort. | Photos by Audrey Hall

Often the heart of a home, providing warmth and comfort against winter’s chill, the fireplace–with its welcoming mantel–also serves as a canvas for presenting meaningful art and objects.

Montana design guru Jeremiah Young, owner of venerable Billings interior design firm Kibler & Kirch, has something of an inside track on all things fireplace.

“Winters are serious business in Montana,” Young says, “and that primal idea of gathering around the fire speaks to something deep within us, so the fireplace becomes a natural focal point. It’s rare that we design a living or great room that doesn’t arrange itself fireside.”

Big Horn Ranchfireplace

Featured in the book “Cabin Style,” a Kibler & Kirch Wyoming living room pairs a Molesworth-inspired vintage look with river rocks.

From river rocks to stacked stone, metal to brick, marble or polished wood, the design of a fireplace can dictate the accompanying furnishings. Clean lines and steel call for contemporary comfort while traditional cabin-style river rocks suggest real-West details.

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A clean-lined stone fireplace enhances a Montana modern interio.

But regardless of style, the space must invite with beauty and ease, says Young, always arranged to nurture conversation. “It’s the details of a space that often make them work like magic,” he says. “Is the seat height of everyone in the room the same so that they see eye to eye? Is there a place to sit for different body types? This is the minutiae we concern ourselves with–the subtleties–so that rooms feel effortless for our clients.”

With a room’s focus on the fireplace, the mantel takes on extra importance, providing a stage for cherished items that offer a peek into a homeowner’s personality–and spark those fireside conversations.

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Unabashedly contemporary, this statement steel fireplace fabricated by Red Lodge, Montana’s Back Alley Metals anchors the room, its mill-scale patina keeping hard surfaces from feeling cold.

A “Design School” blog post on the Kibler & Kirch website offers some of Young’s favorite tips, including selecting special objects that demand engagement, encouraging guests to “walk all the way up to the fireplace and pick them up; books that you’d want to read the spine of, a small box you want to open.”

And no matter how perfectly styled, a mantel shouldn’t remain static. “Your mantel really should be ever-changing,” says Young. “From season to season, rotate your most beloved objects.”

Categories: Fixtures & Finishes