stone fireplace

Fireside Chat with Designer Denise McGaha

As winter approaches, all of us here at Materials Marketing begin to think about cozying up next to one of our signature fireplaces. We have been carving custom surrounds and hearths out of natural stone since 1965, and we constantly dream up new designs.

We recently sat down with one of our favorite design partners, Denise McGaha of Denise McGaha Interiors of Dallas, for a “fireside chat.” She broke down where she gets her inspiration, some key components of the design process, and why she switched from cast to natural stone.


On her inspiration:

“The inspiration for my mantel collection with Materials Marketing came from years of working on my design projects. I loved collaborating with my salesperson Lisa, from the Dallas showroom, and designing custom pieces for each of our projects. The more interested people became in where to find my mantels, the more we thought it was time to put a collection together that could be sold to the market. I am excited to say it has been a huge hit. We have seven designs in seven colors, and we continue to have great success with projects all over the country.

“Much of the inspiration for my designs comes from the architecture of the homes we work in. Whether it’s modern, traditional, or transitional, I like to have designs that are perfect for the space. What is wonderful about working with Materials Marketing is that they’re able to meet our project deadlines. Designing with a deadline is a trademarked process we have at our firm, and the fact that you can receive one of our mantels in four to six weeks is almost unheard of in the industry.”


stone fireplace

On her process:

“Designing a mantel for a project requires several things. First, I send a photo of the room to my sales team at Materials Marketing. Then, we draw the mantel into that room with very specific measurements. Once we’ve done that, we can develop a CAD drawing for approval. Then, we place the order. Then, we get shop drawings back. The mantel is ordered, and the mantel arrives at our project doorstep in four to six weeks.

“This year marks my 20th year in business owning my design firm, and I have had a relationship with Materials Marketing for almost just as long. The fact that we have had such a longstanding relationship is based on several principles. We have very clear communication. The design team and the creative team always come to the table ready to collaborate. Collaboration is the key to every one of my partner relationships, and that is what makes this relationship work.

“I am often asked what my favorite or most memorable installation or mantel is, and I can honestly say that every single one of them is memorable to me. I am always excited and surprised when my designs are imagined in a new stone or new custom size. Every time they’re installed, they become my next new favorite.”

McGaha Fireplace

Her move to natural stone:

“For many years, I was afraid of using natural stone, because I thought it was cost-prohibitive, I was concerned about lead times, and I wasn’t sure how it would blend into my designs — I thought it might be too formal or too fussy. But, when I decided that my days with cast stone were over, and I no longer wanted my projects to look like everyone else’s, I started using natural stone. I started with Materials Marketing’s limestone. Then we went to marbles, and it just went from there. I could not be happier with how natural stone brings texture, elegance, and classic elements to every single one of my projects.

“The beauty of a natural stone mantel is that once it is sealed at installation, no further maintenance is required. I often hear a lot of concerns about fear of marble or limestone needing to have more maintenance done, and it is simply not the case.

“The collaboration that I have with Materials Marketing, including all my mantels, has been so successful that we have started to move on to two more categories of products. I can’t quite say anything yet, but I can’t wait to share more when I can!”

legrande Fireplace