luxury home with a natural stone fireplace

Customizing Your Natural Stone Fireplace: Tips from the Pros

Architect Louis Sullivan famously said that “form ever follows function.” And for Chicago stone industry veteran Katie Pomroy, that statement still rings true. 

Materials Marketing was lucky to chat with Katie about this relationship between aesthetics and purpose, and a few tips for balancing the two. She shared her best advice for personalizing your home by customizing a functional element—in this case, a beautiful natural stone fireplace.

Let’s dive right into the flames and explore some expert-approved natural stone fireplace ideas. It’s time to take your stone fireplace design and turn it into a beautiful custom fireplace. 

The Purpose of a Fireplace in the Home

It’s not just for looks (although a fireplace certainly does resonate warmth and style). Fireplaces have incredibly functional, even necessary purposes within a home. There’s a reason they’ve been used for centuries in residential architecture.

Before designing your stone fireplace, you must know its role in your home—remember, form follows function. Here are a few purposes for your hearth: 

  • Temperature control Heat is perhaps the initial human use for fire, and this works for a fireplace as well. With electric or wood-fueled flames, you can warm up a room in no time. 
  • Energy efficiency – Modern fireplaces are incredibly efficient, eco-friendly sources of heat. Depending on build and material, certain fireplaces can maintain toasty temperatures at a mere fraction of the heating bill cost.
  • Ambiance – Style isn’t everything, but it is something. Nothing gives a home more coziness than a crackling fireplace on a chilly night.

Different Styles of Fireplaces

Luckily, stone fireplaces are incredibly customizable, that doesn’t mean you should toss aside your room’s dimensions for just any beautiful design.

To best complement and personalize your fireplace, consider the room size. According to Katie, “this is something we do all the time” in interior design. For example, in large spaces with high ceilings, increasing the depth of the fireplace adds balance to the emptiness, bringing out the room’s best qualities.

Stone fireplace

Not sure where to start? For some coals of inspiration, let’s review two categories of fireplace style—stone shape and fireplace shape.

Stone shape:

  • Uniform – If going for an elegant or contemporary fireplace, then a single stone piece is your best fit. Whether made of soapstone, marble, or otherwise, stone fireplaces with smooth exteriors give a sleek yet refined feel. 
  • Stacked – Similar to a brick wall, a stacked fireplace is constructed with layers of block-shaped stones. This can be more rustic (uneven surfaces, asymmetrical layering) or more traditional (smoother texture, measured layouts).
  • River rocks or cobblestone – Whimsical and laidback, river rock fireplaces use stones of rounded or uneven shape. These stones can be slightly gapped (displaying a smooth surface between rock) or tightly packed.

Besides stone shape, the actual design of the fireplace greatly impacts a room (as well as the fireplace’s function). Here are a few common fireplace shapes to consider:

Fireplace shape:

  • Full-wall – Floor-to-ceiling fireplace adds majesty and grandiose to a room. If going for a full-wall model, Kate particularly advises combining a thin veneer stone and carved design to “create a substantial focus in the room.” For easier ceiling integration and a unique look, you can also work the room’s crown molding into the fireplace design.
  • Column – Have height but not width for your fireplace? A column style may be your best bet. This shape pairs well with stacked stone or contemporary designs, emphasizing a room’s open space.  
  • Display mantle – Play up tradition and coziness with a mantled fireplace design. It fills out a room and adds ample space to show off your best framed photos.
  • Inlaid – Another modern design, an inlaid fireplace has zero mantle or outsticking elements. This is a great option for those who want an easily convertible wall or minimalist look.
  • Corner – While less common, corner fireplaces instantly give snug warmth to a room (especially if round in shape). Perfect for smaller spaces or cottage-style homes.

Of course, none of these styles are set in stone (pun not intended). You can always mix and match designs you see—after all, imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. Why not borrow a fireplace detail you’ve seen and incorporate it into your design? According to Miss Katie, “use the header you love with the legs you saw somewhere else.”

Types of Stone for Fireplaces

Most natural stones can withstand fire’s heat. But for maximum durability and style, there are a few types that stand out over others. 

At Materials Marketing, we offer four natural stone types fit for a range of tastes and architectural needs. Our selection includes:

  • Limestone A multi-use stone for outdoors or indoors. Subdued, simple, and versatile. A limestone fireplace is also a more affordable option when compared to a marble fireplace. 
  • Travertine A limestone variant from hot mineral springs. Durable, smooth, and classic. The travertine fireplace is also more affordable when compared to cast stone, and requires minimal maintenance. 
  • Adoquin Made from compressed volcanic ash. Earthy, rustic, and light. This fireplace stone has a unique look and works well as a rustic stone fireplace. 
  • Marble A hard, crystalline form of limestone. Elegant, striking, and strong. For a modern stone fireplace, you can’t do better than classic marble stone.

Stir the Flames with Professional Help 

At the end of the day, your opinion matters most for designing your home. But picking and installing a functional fireplace can be tough, and that is where our associates come in. We want to work with you and help you narrow down your choices from the many natural stone fireplace ideas and stone veneer fireplace ideas.

As Katie shared, “One of the things we take great pride in at Materials Marketing is our ability to customize a natural stone fireplace for our clients.” With our natural stone expertise, we can help you construct the perfect, unique hearth for your home. 

If you’re interested in working with Materials Marketing, please reach out to us mml@mstoneandtile.com.