Written by Leslie Gregory Haukoos

“After” photography by VT Fine Art Photography

fireplace imageThe original living room fireplace in this Calabasas Oaks home featured the builder’s standard plain white composite construction with a simple framed surround and a white hearth.
The homeowners wanted to make the fireplace more sophisticated and unique. Designer Kathy Love Jarvis helped then accomplish just that, having worked with them before as their taste evolved from traditional to contemporary over the years.
To dress up the surround, Jarvis brought in her “painter extraordinaire,” Raul Campos Painting and Design. “His service is above and beyond that of a normal painter,” she says.
Campos referred her to master painter and faux finisher, artist Vasily Gladkov, who applied a silver leaf finish (yes, that’s real silver leaf) to the fireplace surround. The silver leaf comes in thin sheets of ground metal finish. It’s applied by hand then sealed to the surface by the artist. It’s the same technique used in Europe during the 17th through 19th centuries on architectural paneling and furnishings in grand estates and palaces.

BEFORE: The living room fireplace was plain white composite material with a simple framed surround. AFTER: Hand-applied silver leaf finish covers the mantel and surround. Flames rise from chipped glass, and a tempered glass screen sits on metal legs so as not to obscure the view.

Gladkov, who specializes in trompe l’oeil, Italian plasters and metal patinas, is a “true old world artist, trained in Russia,” Jarvis says. Ironically, it is this very old technique that contemporizes the fireplace and the room.
Inside the gas fireplace, flames emerge from chipped glass, creating a “fire and ice” effect, Jarvis says. To showcase it, she designed a free-standing fireplace screen made of clear tempered glass with metal legs. It sits on the hearth and is “clean, unobtrusive and very modern.” The idea, she says, is not to feature the screen but “to allow us to see the fire and ice crystal effect.”

Written by Leslie Gregory Haukoos
“After” photography by VT Fine Art Photography