Architectural & Related Design

This kitchen fireplace was designed and built by John August in 1981 for the Robinson residence in Santa Barbara.

Robinson Kitchen Remodel

A Charlatan Under Every Rock

© 1997 John August

John August was approached by the contractor who arranged a meeting with the owner and the interior "designer" for this high end kitchen remodel. The "designer" had made plans showing a fireplace drawn in. When she asked August if he could build a fireplace like the one in the drawing he said simply, "No. But if you want one like that, I'll give you the name of the guy to call, because he's the one who designed the fireplace in your plans." She had traced from a book a photograph of a beautiful Art Nouveau rendition done for Cheech by a fellow mason, David Sawyer.

Her location for the fireplace also didn't account for the fact that its base was ten feet above the ground and the stack would have to pilot its way through the massive beams bearing the Spanish tiled roof. This was explained as tactfully as possible to the owner, who was unaware of the fact that you couldn't just put ten tons of rock and brick on a wood floor, much less vent a smoke stack into your kitchen or attic.

Working with the contractor, August resolved the structural problems from the ground up and created this indoor BBQ in true Gaudi style. A combination of common used brick and sandstone scrounged off the property accounted for most of the materials. After this photo was taken the brick were ground smooth, giving the surface a highly sculpted appearance.


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