What Is a Kiva Fireplace?

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Known for its beehive appearance, a kiva fireplace is common in homes in the southwestern United States. Originally crafted from adobe, a Spanish term meaning mud bricks, traditional kiva fireplaces were very heavy. Conventionally placed in the corner, a kiva's adobe walls radiate heat and provide cozy warmth to a room. The broad base, narrow top, arched firebox door and top flue opening are typical attributes.

Origin

  • The word kiva originally referred to a round underground meeting place used for religious rituals, spiritual ceremonies and other gatherings by male Pueblo Indians of the southwest. The Native American-style kiva fireplace was originally built of adobe bricks. Its architecture was inspired by the round, pit-like adobe homes of the descendants of the Pueblo Indians.

Features

  • The characteristic broad base of a kiva fireplace allows more heat to radiate around the bottom, making it more energy efficient. The narrow top allows fumes to exit out the upper flume opening. Conventional features of the kiva fireplace include nichos and bancos. A nicho is a recessed shelf cut out of an adobe wall. Small art objects, pictures or other decorative items can be displayed here. A banco is a bench built on one or both sides of the kiva fireplace.

Styles

  • Kiva fireplaces come in a variety of southwestern styles. Gas- or wood-burning, large or small, and brightly painted or neutral hues provide many options to suit a variety of rooms. Outdoor kiva fireplaces are designed to endure the elements while providing comfort and aesthetic appeal. Newer designs are lightweight, pre-fabricated and easy to install.

Accessories

  • Fireplace screens help deflect burning embers, protecting you and your floor. Glass doors covering the firebox opening can be closed when your fire is still burning but you want to safely leave the area. A kiva grate will hold logs in a campfire formation inside the firebox.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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