Years ago, fireplaces were more functional than decorative. Perhaps the fireplace was used to heat the house, provide light during the evening hours, or even used to heat food. Traditionally, these fireplaces were placed near a wall and surrounded with brick.
Today, fireplaces are used more for decoration than for practical reasons. In fact, many homes that have a functioning fireplace don’t even burn wood. Modern homes have fireplaces that have been fitted with gas logs in order to burn quietly and cleanly.
Removing the brick that surrounds your fireplace can be an expensive and time consuming process. Today, it is possible to retrofit your fireplace with pre-manufactured surround pieces. This makes the process a lot quicker and is less expensive.
Modern Fireplace Surrounds
Marble and granite are the two most popular choices for modern fireplace surrounds. Because of this, there are many different types of designs from which to choose. You may wish to purchase a surround with Roman flair, or perhaps you want a unit that has French Provincial overtones.
Keep in mind that the more ornate the surround, the greater the cost. While pre-fabricated surrounds are cheaper than other options, a surround piece can still cost several thousand dollars depending upon how ornate the decorations are.
Surrounds work best with fireplaces that have been framed into a wall. Fireplaces that sit directly on the floor instead of on a hearth will also work well with a surround.
If you have a traditionally built fireplace, or if your fireplace is situated on a hearth, you may need to use a hand laid stone design. Although this is a little bit more work, you will have a large variety of options and can tailor your design to accent your fireplace.
Stones can be set in a pattern or using stones that all look the same. You may even want to place decorative stones in the pattern. If you have a wooden mantel or hearth, you will love the look of stone and wood together.
Some homeowners prefer to use granite when creating a fireplace surround. Others like the look of smooth, rounded stones. Rough stones are not used as much today as they once were. Having said that, using rough stone to finish the surround of a cabin fireplace would look very attractive.
You Can Create A Unique Look
If you want to create a look that is entirely unique to you, you may want to fully understand the process before you begin. Choose the style and color of the surround before you begin and make sure that you firmly like what you have chosen. Nothing is worse than going back to re-do what has already been done.
Talk to a contractor or designer before beginning the process to make sure that your ideas are actually feasible. A good contractor or designer may think of things that you haven’t even considered. For example, how the light will play on a certain area of the fireplace, or if you want to surround the entire wall near the fireplace with a similar material.
In many cases, designers and contractors have portfolios of their work. Ask to see the portfolio before any work is done. This way, you can get a realistic idea of how your surround will look once it is finished.