Marble surrounds, mantels, and tile patterns turn fireplaces into perennially charming constructions.

By Ann Wilson
April 27, 2016

Revered for its opulent feel and timeless appeal, white, dark, and midtone marbles are experiencing a surge in popularity. More and more often the organic material is popping up as floors, countertops, backsplashes, and fireplaces. Valued for its distinctive appearance, classic leanings, warm patina, and versatile nature, marble brings sophisticated substance that complements all types of decorating styles. White marble fireplaces enhance breezy cottage and traditional interiors, while fireplaces dressed in dark marble mantels or black marble tiles turn up the drama in both old-world and contemporary interiors.

No matter its style, a marble fireplace's success rests on how the marble is presented and how it works in partnership with other elements in a room. Take a look at these fashionable fireplace ideas that showcase marble's many attributes.

Carved marble mantels, which are applied to the wall surrounding a firebox, make a fetchingly formal statement. This mantel's notable vein patterns, dark gray hue, and striking silhouette create a captivating focal point in an elegantly appointed living room. The pale gray walls, black-tiled hearth, and plain, dark firebox allow the massive mantel to advance into view. The room's furnishings, including silver-frame mirrors, light wood finishes, and pale upholstery fabrics, counterbalance the weighty structure, which appears even larger thanks to the color-coordinated artwork hanging above it. Looking to create a similar look? You'll find custom carved and vintage marble mantels in an array of styles, colors, and finishes available at online dealers, architectural salvage sites, and specialty fireplace retailers. Depending on size, provenance, and intricacy of the design, full marble mantels range in price from about $1,500 to $7,000 and up.

Sleek Surrounds


Less expensive than full-size mantels, marble surrounds supply plentiful panache for your decorating dollar. Slablike marble panels adhered to a wooden framework creates a nearly seamless facade that's well suited to contemporary quarters and transitional designs. The white marble on this bedroom fireplace was laid out so the gray vein pattern appears to rise from the lower-left corner upward to the upper-right corner. This savvy placement brings a sense of movement to the surround, which in turn magnifies the marble's visual presence. These homeowners paired the marble with a plainly profiled mantel and simple woodwork, which also allows the marble fireplace to take center stage. These types of surrounds can be custom-crafted by a stone cutter or can be installed by a handy do-it-yourselfer using a marble fireplace surround facing kit; marble surround kits typically range in price from $500 to $900 (sometimes more), depending on the size and material choice.

Tiled Dimension


Pairs of marble subway tiles installed in L-shape patterns generate understated interest on this fireplace's floor-to-mantel surround. With no protruding hearth, this marble fireplace presents a thoroughly modern countenance that works well with this living room's traditional woodwork and eclectic mix of fashion-forward and antique furnishings. When using marble tiles, you'll find you are only limited by your imagination -- and budget. Picture black marble tiles aligned on a surround accented with a mantel crafted of a reclaimed beam. Or, envision a shimmering surround upholstered in marble and glass mosaic tiles cased in white fluted trim. Another good thing about tile? It can be applied atop stone or brick fireplaces when the original surface is properly prepared.

Stylish Updates

Living room

Marble slabs, panels, and tiles fashion surrounds that allow antique or reproduction mantelpieces to work with today's fireboxes and hearth-enjoying requirements. Here, custom-cut marble panels sleekly contrast with the mantelpiece's carved details and provide a symmetrical frame for the rectangular firebox. The white marble, which repeats on the slightly raised hearth, mirrors the silvery gray tones seen in fabrics, furnishings, and flourishes and also reflects the room's refined attitude. When you're choosing a white marble, take time to compare the different types. You'll be surprised by the variations in vein patterns, color tones, and prices. Avalanche White marble sports white, gray, and gold swirls; Calacatta Black boasts dramatic gray and black veins on an off-white background, and ever-classic Carrara features a clean white background and soft gray veins. You'll even find white marbles with linear designs that look like stripes.

Authentic Anchors


Antique marble mantels perfectly suit old-world interiors. Depending on their region of origin, these reclaimed relics establish looks including country French, rustic Tuscan, ornate Victorian, and English elegance. Though it's possible to retrofit an existing fireplace with an antique mantel, these antiquities work best when their profiles are considered during a new fireplace's design phase. Other almost-authentic alternatives? Shop for a reproduction mantel that suits your preferred design period or embellish an existing fireplace with decorative plinth blocks, corbels, or keystones salvaged from antique marble fireplaces. No fireplace to decorate? Use an antique marble mantel to build a faux fireplace on an underused wall.


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