Favorite Field Stone Fireplace Designs... Fields Of Dreams!
The field stone fireplace has been a fixture in homes around the world for centuries, particularly in
North America and Northern Europe. An abundant supply of field stone in many areas has made it a "natural"
for fireplaces, chimneys, foundations, retaining walls, livestock fencing, and landscape terracing!
Beautiful, strong and durable,
is easily found in virtually any agricultural area where crops are grown. To most farmers it is an on- going nuisance, as the stones con- tinue to surface year after year when the earth is tilled and prepared for planting new crops . . . . . . . re- quiring their removal from the fields.
Having grown up on a dairy farm, myself, I can certainly appreciate the farmers' disdain. Along with my
younger siblings, I probably collect- ed and removed several tons of that "nuisance" rock from our fields when I was a boy.
Design pictured above by Shope Reno Wharton Architects
However, as an adult in the "field" of architectural design, I've come to appreciate the beauty, durability
and strength of this natural building ma- terial -- much more than I ever could have imagined! In the hands
of a skilled and experienced stone mason, a field stone fireplace can become a veritable work of art -- with
complex and contrasting patterns, colors, tex- tures and uniquely individual nuances that cannot be seen by most
eyes until the whole has been assembled and completed by the artisan.
When naturally blended with other stone types or styles -- such as river rock -- and the stones are precisely
fit together with no visible mortar, as in the superb examples at right and below, the result is stone artistry
perfection! True masterpieces in stone! True masterpieces of the stone artisan's craft!
The incredible talent behind these amazing works of art is master stone artisan, Lew French.
Needless to say, such perfection comes at a price due to the extraordinary amount of time it takes to gather and hand fit each stone. However, if it's perfection that you're seeking -- in terms of stonework quality -- it simply does not get any better than this!
Fortunately, for those of us on a lesser budget, there are still some out- standing field stone fireplace
designs in a wide range of styles, colors and textures . . . . . as well as highly skilled stone artisans available
to execute those designs. For example, though both of the striking fireplaces below are crafted from fieldstone,
each has its own distinctive look. The stones in the example at left -- brown, tan and buff in color -- have been
cut or split and rather tightly arranged for a relatively "smooth" overall look. The stones in the example at
right, primarily ranging from blues to grays and more "loosely" stacked and assembled, are interspersed with
boulders around the
and hearth to give it a more rugged and natural look.
The next two designs were selected for the way they seamlessly combine present day technology and energy
efficiency with the look and feel of ages past. Each has a firebox system designed to deliver heat into the
room through an opening above the wooden mantel shelf. However, in- stead of simply installing a conventional
louvered metal grille over the opening . . . . . as is often done . . . the stone artisan cleverly arranged a series
of small stones to create a custom grille that is much more in keep- ing with the overall look and feel of the
natural stone surround.
The following designs were chosen for their pleasing proportions, scale and balance. Once again, note the
natural looking stone grille above the mantel shelf of the fireplace at left. The unique mantel shelf at right
is clad in white birch bark and contrasts beautifully with the darker, skillfully ar- ranged stones behind it.
For pure ingenuity and inventive- ness, the contemporary design at right gets my vote. Clad in blue, gray and
buff Connecticut field stone squares and its fuel bed laid with blue glass crystals, it presents a very striking
and in- novative composition.
The next three designs were chosen to demonstrate that a smaller scaled . . . and less expensive . . . field
stone fireplace can be equally striking. In each example, the stone surround boasts a beautifully crafted mantel
shelf and mouldings of richly contrasting woods to elegantly "frame" the overall composition.
design at bottom features an inviting inglenook. In- spired by an inglenook fireplace design in Pasadena, California's
landmark Gamble House (1908), the fireplace surround is flanked by finely crafted built-in cabinetry and seating.
And finally, for pure "coziness," the following designs are hard to beat. For reasons relating as much to
the incredible setting and surrounding decor as to the stone hearth, itself, each example oozes ambiance and
nostalgic charm in volumes!
to view and learn more about field stone fireplace de- signs.
As you can see from the foregoing examples, a field stone fireplace can be spectacular! Ironically, the
stones can be "harvested" from the very fields that give . . . and hopefully fulfill . . . . . the farmers' dreams
of a bountiful crop each year at harvest time.
For many homeowners, field stone is also an important "crop." Only this time, it is their dreams of a
stunning fireplace or other architectural ele- ment that they aspire to fulfill. In more ways than one, the
plots of ground that farmers so carefully manage -- as stewards of the land -- are, quite literally . . .
. . fields of dreams!
Striking fireplace pictured above is by master stone artisan, Lew French.