New Ideas for Old Hearths
Top off your fireplace with an arrangement that covers both the mantel and the wall above it. The key to asymmetry is maintaining balance without placing everything in a straight line. So vertical elements are balanced with horizontal, and large prints are paired with small. Take time to experiment with different arrangements on the floor, or tape up paper cutouts in the shapes of the objects you plan to hang.
A Fine Federal
The detailed millwork surround on this fireplace conveys a sense of a Colonial heritage -- simple, classic lines that stand proud while avoiding ostentation. The wingback chair, candles on the mantel, and ornate mirror frame continue the high-country look. The room's quiet color scheme adds to the gentility.
Delicate moldings and marbleizing highlight a living room mantel. Matching candlesticks, figurines, and shelf arrangements achieve pleasing symmetry.
Heavy boulders stacked to the ceiling give this fireplace unwavering solidity. Soften the look and make the room inviting by using soft, casual furnishings. A fireplace this dominating needs no embellishment; the no-mantel approach is perfect and lets one's eye wander up the maze of interlocking stone.
Bungalow style is known for its low-to-the-ground nature, and this surround plays it up beautifully. The low, wide span of this surround plays up the rectangular-shaped bricks, as do the white mantel and horizontal inset. Red is a bold color choice, drawing attention to the fireplace.
For a truly eclectic fireplace surround, check out salvage shops. It's an inspired way to add unexpected architectural interest to your fireplace. Vintage mantels, however, often require a bit of retrofitting. Measure carefully before buying and decide how to best make a good fit. Here, subtle tiles fill the space between mantel and firebox.
The only divide in this wide-open floor plan is the fireplace wall. Set on a diagonal, the wall forces foot traffic out of a straight path and clearly defines the conversation area. The firebox is a "window" in the tall white wall, with a seating-height hearth that invites closeness.
This kiva, a distinctive beehive-shaped fireplace, echoes the ceremonial chambers of the Southwest's Native Americans. Smooth and gently rounded, kivas are built with shallow, angled walls that radiate heat outward. Corner placement enhances the kiva's curves as it bows gently into the room.
Simple geometry and sleek surfaces help to define contemporary designs. Mounted flush with the wall and high off the floor, this fireplace also shows a rethinking of hearth placement; it's a perfect complement to high windows flanking the hearth and leaves space to tuck firewood below.
Divide to Join
Put a fireplace in two rooms simply by placing it in the dividing wall, allowing it to show on two sides. In this house, the fireplace faces the living room for the pleasure of family and friends. And it faces a small library that's tucked behind the wall so the fireplace can be enjoyed with a good book, too.
Now for Zen
Fireplace surrounds used to be tile, wood, stone, or plaster, thank you very much. Now man-made industrial materials are gaining in popularity. Steel and other metals augment the visual heat here. Concrete is poured into a tall pillar with a gentle wave of stone for the mantel; together with the polished stone front hearth, this creates a sense of calm.
Durable and flame resistant, tile is a popular hearth material. Decorated tiles in a wide band around the firebox make a fireplace more visually massive without feeling heavy. The thick wood mantel and wide boards flanking the tile add to this fireplace's rustic appeal.