The elements of a traditional style fireplace are understated and neutral: Typically a painted wood mantel crowns a natural stone surround. It's the accessories that shift the fireplace style to various traditional genres. The furniture in this living room, for example, tilts toward a modern aesthetic, so the fireplace does, too. Polished white marble blends with the glossy white-painted mantelpiece for a seamless look. The glass enclosure of the firebox is slick and unfussy as well. Three identical spheres reside on the mantel ledge, and a contemporary painting suits the minimalism.
The dressiest version of traditional style is formal and restrained, and it has clear ties to historic design styles. The fireplace in this large living room, for example, has carved molding details that are also common in 19th century European antiques. The mantel is painted a demur shade of cream, which complements the rich cafe-color granite surround. It's a highly polished stone, which adds to the tony quality of the fireplace. Fireplace tools with shiny chrome handles, a mirror in a silvered frame, and art glass objects round out the sparkle.
Traditional decorating is strongly influenced by English and French design, and its fireplaces are no exception. In this living room, the fireplace is carved from solid stone, a sight common in centuries-old European homes. Rather than dominate the space, the hefty piece coordinates with other architectural elements -- rough-hewn beams, panted ceiling paneling, and wood-clad window bays -- to create an overall feeling of age and permanence. Yet, it is brought up to modern times by the clean-lined furnishings that attend it, and a large flat-screen TV anchored on the wall above.
Some traditional-style fireplaces downshift to a more casual level, like in less formal family spaces and vacation homes. In this bright living room, the furniture is laid-back and whimsical, so the fireplace shares the not-too-serious aesthetic. The mantelpiece has graceful molding details, but the surround is tiled and textured rather than slick and polished. A rustic architectural remnant propped on the mantel poses loosely. And vintage blue-glass jugs used as vases are pretty and sparkly, but they don't have an esteemed pedigree.