Just because you like the rustic look for your fireplace, doesn't mean you have to live in a shack. This style can suit even the newest of suburban family rooms. In this home, for instance, the homeowner chose engineered stone, which has a tumbled, old look but comes in regular shapes that are easier to stack. Foregoing mortar makes the stonework look rougher, and a mantel of hand-planed boards has a gently imperfect look, too. Vintage soda bottles and a star made from salvaged barn roofing complete the look without being crusty -- which suits the trim and sophisticated furniture just fine.
A farmhouse is a natural spot for a rustic fireplace, but this one is a sophisticated take on the country look. The mantel is made from a salvaged beam complete with tool gouges, yet the clean-line firebox is surrounded by high-style polished granite in seamless slabs. The same way a pair of dressy blue jeans walk the country-contemporary line, this firebox is filled with a jumble of cut twigs, yet the livestock painting propped on the mantel is done in a contemporary style. Mantel accessories are chosen because they are made from folksy materials but have a shapely, sculptural quality.
For an authentic take on a rustic fireplace, look to centuries-old European models for ideas. This stateside version employs color and collectibles to conjure a country French look. Start with basic stonework -- not brick -- and leave the firebox free of any decorative screening. The mantel should be simple and substantial, and it should look like it has been in place for generations. This new mantel beam was roughed up and stained for a patina look. Walls painted the color of a sunset in Provence boost the effect, which is then carried out in French antique accessories that sit on the mantel and the hearth.
Surprisingly, a rustic fireplace can look quite contemporary with the right approach. This example illustrates that simplicity helps create a sophisticated look. The stonework is vivid, with wide mortar lines intersecting to create a primitive mosaic. There is no mantel suspended to obscure this patterning, only a slender ledge that sits atop the trim around the firebox. Minimal, small-scale accessories on the ledge are striking in contrast to the grand stonework and ceiling treatment.