Everyone's dream home is different, but there are some design elements that are truly timeless. A hearth is not only functional but also beautiful and a stone fireplace is a nod to tradition that doesn't necessarily have to be traditional. From country to contemporary, elegant fireplace design invites social gatherings and special moments.
Here's everything you need to know about crafting a fireplace that will become the heart of your home.
Get the Look
Picture the fireplace you want in your mind's eye. Is it sleek and modern or rustic? Does it establish a connection with nature, bringing the outdoors in, or does it feel architectural and stark? Maybe your dream fireplace falls somewhere in between, combining natural elements with mod touches. Whatever vision you create can be made reality – it's all about the right materials.
Your stone: Perhaps you've looked at rough cut stone or river rock or flagstone. Maybe limestone has caught your eye. That's a solid start but know that choosing the right stone is about more than type! There are manifold color, shape and finish options and then so many ways to stack or arrange your chosen stone – some of which result in a more natural looking fireplace while others will automatically give a room a more contemporary feel.
To narrow down your options visit the Eldorado Product Selector, a tool we've created to help you find the perfect stone shape, color and architectural style.
Your grout: Once you've chosen the right stone for your fireplace, it's time to consider different grout techniques. Narrow or thick, rugged or finished, light or dark – the grout can dramatically change your stone fireplace's look. In general, modern fireplaces tend to have cleaner, more regular grout lines while rustic fireplaces have looser, freeform lines.
Fireplaces are a natural focal point all throughout the year because we imagine the crackling fire even when the fireplace isn't lit. Stone fireplaces don't always get the same treatment as more traditionally embellished fireplaces but they can have as much if not more personality and with even fewer accents because stone has a presence all its own. In some cases, an inset stone slab will take the place of a mantel, accenting a firebox set low in a fireplace that extends to ceiling.
Think in terms of aligning décor elements like a floating unfinished wood mantel or slab on a pastoral stone fireplace or a sleek built-in bench on a smooth slate fireplace. Look for opportunities to re-use materials that are found elsewhere in a space. For instance, in an open concept home the kitchen counter can become the inspiration for a mantel or hearth piece. The fireplace then becomes a unifying element that promotes harmony throughout the house.
Setting the Mood
Lighting is a common element in fireplace design, with fanciful sconces and candles often playing starring roles in fireplaces with framed fireboxes and prominent mantels. Lighting tends to get a different treatment when designers are styling stone fireplaces, however, and you'll see a lot of inset hockey puck and can lighting designed to give light as unobtrusively as possible.
For something more dramatic that works with or without a mantel, hang suspended lighting from the ceiling at a height and closeness that brings a mantel to mind. Choose lighting that can double as objet d'art for max impact with minimum commitment. In a year or two when you want to freshen up the room you can switch it out for something new without having to call in a contractor.
A beautiful mantel can help make a fireplace even more of an impressive focal point in the room. A stone fireplace surround can be used to create a substantial and solid appearance while mantel shelves and hearths can be used to give texture and perspective to the fireplace. By adding in any number of fireplace accessories like specialty trim panels to give your stone mantel that special finished look, a distinguished mantel can help set your stone fireplace apart.
Pulling It Together
When the stone fireplace you've been dreaming of is finally a reality it is time to make it your own. Rotating mantel vignettes with photos, paintings, mirrors and botanicals are fun for homeowners with a decorator's bent but less so for those without mantels or those of us who prefer a more classical approach to décor.
In that case, the traditional (and formal) approach to styling a fireplace is much preferred. A stone fireplace is a focal point, after all, and accenting it with a single large piece of art or sculpture or an ornate mirror can only heighten the impact and appeal of an already beautiful fireplace.In the end, your fireplace should be everything you want it to be, whether that's formal or playful, colorful or stark, highly embellished or bare. A design concept is just that, a concept, not a set of rules. You will get much more enjoyment from your fireplace – and many more compliments – if you explore your options from top to bottom and then choose the ones that make you feel most at home.