The benefits of a corner fireplace are many. Corner fireplaces take advantage of underused space and supply focal-point substance. They can assume a variety of shapes rendered in an array of materials, which ensures there's a version for every decorating style. Their placement leaves longer stretches of open wall for arranging furniture, installing cabinets, or building in closets. Most importantly, they allow you to enjoy flickering flames and glowing embers no matter the location or size of your room.
Like most fireplaces, built-in corner hearths are most easily and economically installed at the time a home is being built, added on to, or remodeled. That said, there are corner fireplace units, ventless options, and freestanding stoves -- fueled by electricity, gas, gel, or wood -- that can be added to finished rooms. Available in modern versions complete with media-center functions and classically contoured styles sporting stained or white-painted mantels, these prefab corner fireplaces range in price from about $400 to $700.
Corner fireplaces aren't just for living rooms anymore. They fashionably heat up bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and dining areas. This breakfast room hearth takes on a traditional feel, thanks to its ceiling-to-floor mantelpiece featuring paneled details, a triptych of mirrors, a stone surround, and arched doors that protect diners from flying embers and efficiently maximize the output of heat. The placement of this corner fireplace allows those sitting in the great-room or chefs working in the adjacent kitchen to watch flames burning bright.
Consider raising a corner hearth's firebox so it's within the sightlines of folks seated at a dining table, kicking back in a recliner, relaxing in a soaking tub, or nestled beneath the covers. A plain-profile surround allows the fiery show within this corner fireplace to advance into view. Installed almost in the center of the wall, the glass-door fireplace is easily viewed from the bedstead and sitting area -- its placement also ensures the heat emanating outward warms more than just someone's toes.
Streamlined silhouettes, glass walls, and high-impact surrounds characterize contemporary corner fireplaces. Boxlike forms extend outward from a room's corner, or long, narrow rectangular fireboxes stretch to butt into a corner. In a manner that continues to grow in popularity, a fireplace may be installed in the outer corner of a partial wall and enclosed with glass on two or more sides so fires can be seen and appreciated from multiple rooms. Got a penchant for the progressive? Accentuate your corner fireplace with a stained-concrete, stainless-steel, or glass-tile surround that adds interest while staying in tune with your fireplace's fashion-forward design.
Materials matter when it comes to designing corner fireplaces that complement your home's architecture and/or your decorating preferences. Though corner fireplaces' shapes are somewhat limited by their location, they can be built of natural stone, brick, plaster, or most any other material that is used to construct a traditional full-size fireplace. Rustic stones stacked from floor to ceiling create corner fireplaces worthy of the most majestic mountain lodges. Shaped plaster or limestone corner fireplaces are well suited to Southwestern, Spanish, and Tuscan style homes. Stained or painted, plain or carved, ceiling-high or standard-size, fireplace mantels and surrounds set on a 45-degree angle across a corner create fireplaces that work in both classically elegant and kick-back casual rooms.
When designing or choosing a corner fireplace for your home, think about how the unit can fulfill more than one function. Is there a mantelshelf for displaying collectibles? A flat top that can support a television? How about a raised hearth that provides fireside seats when a party's on tap? Consider how you can magnify its utility by adding cabinets, bookcases, shelves, or even benches to the walls adjoining (or above) the fireplace.