Design snapshot: Chimney tale

Now that we’re well into fireplace (and Santa) season, I’ve got chimneys on my mind.  Often the most we see of a chimney is the three feet or so which extends above a roof top.  End chimneys, however, can have a larger impact.  This brick chimney with stone and ceramic accents is a standout.

It carves a unique silhouette with two primary tapers below the eave line and two subtle tapers toward the cap.  The unusual mix of material and color, coupled with the unique arrangement of components, teases our curiosity.  What is meant to occupy the herringbone niche at second-floor level?  What is the meaning of echoing the herringbone pattern above the niche?  How do we explain the placement of the stone elements?

This chimney seems to be telling a story.  Perhaps the two solitary rocks are eyes in an upside-down face, featuring a niche nose and ceramic “o” mouth above a herringbone goatee.  Or perhaps I’ve seen too many of those smiley-face Amex ads.

Whatever its story, this chimney reveals the human hand and spirit at work embellishing and communicating through abstraction.  It’s an imaginative, compelling expression.  If only more chimneys exhibited such exuberance.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast