If you like sleek, sophisticated, and singular, you'll love these modern fireplace designs that direct attention to flames blazing within.

By Ann Wilson
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Like most contemporary things and spaces, modern fireplaces present an original outlook that fuses crisp contours, neutral hues, and alternative materials to fashion up-to-the-minute appeal. Contemporary hearths rarely intrude into or overshadow a space; instead, they stand as purposeful, statuesque structures that oftentimes step back to let a room's sculptural furnishings and fittings shine. Striking in their simplicity, contemporary fireplaces maximize a minimal number of components to form focal points that always spark interest. Here's a look at a few factors that give fireplaces a modern attitude.

Streamlined Silhouettes


Forget decorative moldings and froufrou embellishments: modern hearths are often sleek and straightforward affairs that derive their so-chic allure from their straight-lined architecture, floor-set hearths, and novel use of natural nuances, such as granite-tiled or slate surrounds and interiors covered in travertine tiles or slabs of soapstone. Models without mantels are on the rise, while others sport mantels as simple as a rustic wooden beam mounted above the firebox or a shallow frame that barely protrudes from the wall. Pale wood finishes, white-painted mantels, and stainless-steel surrounds aptly accent fireplace openings ranging in shape from long narrow rectangles to boxy squares.

Soaring Statements

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Fireplaces that rise as a monochromatic mass perfectly suit modern quarters. A fireplace wall covered ceiling-to-floor in polished marble or a fireplace featuring an expansive facade fashioned from tidily stacked slices of stone pack a powerfully progressive punch. Generally, these modern monoliths boast nary a mantel shelf or mantel, but often extend from raised hearths constructed of the same material covering the wall. Other materials, such as plain and stained concrete, wood planks, and stone slabs or tiles, also emit futuristic vibes when they share a color palette and are set in a simple pattern. Mixing complementary surfaces and finishes into the design as hearths, firebox interiors, mantels, and fire screens prevents these one-note structures from appearing monotonous.

Complementary Companions


Since contemporary fireplaces lean toward understated in appearance, they are best enhanced with displays of equally unfussy accessories. A single oversize abstract painting, a pair of swirly art glass vases, a line of clear hurricanes, or natural objects with sculptural shapes pair nicely with modern hearths. Editing is important; keeping it simple works best. Small groupings of medium to large objects with similar shapes and colors save modern fireplaces from seeming chaotic, which in the end perfectly complements contemporary style's calming character.

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