A river stone fireplace is the quintessential ideal of a nostalgic hearth. Few, if any other types of stone hearths conjure up as many images of a time when life was simpler . . . and seemingly sweeter!
Photo Above: Courtesy of Coastal Living
River stone, or river rock, as it is commonly called, is the result of
aeons of wear from fast moving wa-
ter and glacial activity. With its scat-
tering of indigo, puce and earthen colors, the irregular stones have unique textural nuances worn into their surfaces. When framing a flickering fire, the smooth and gently rounded curves of the stones sym-
bolize . . . . at least in our minds . . . the idealized reality of an earlier, gentler time.
For many of us, the mere mention of a river stone fireplace makes us think of a massive, floor to ceiling hearth with a commanding presence. Indeed, their staggering size and monumentality enrapture us.
Pictured below, right, is a soaring fireplace design by Michael Eckerman Studios of Santa Cruz, California. Note the huge block of stone used for its raised hearth!
We often associate a river rock fireplace with being the focal point of a lodge, such as that pictured below.
However, a river stone fireplace can also be downsized to fit in virtually any size home or room. The
following examples demonstrate how that can be accomplished without sacrificing the look and feel of a cozy
As with many varieties of
stone, river stone can be manipulated by human hands to achieve a wide array of
different looks in a wide array of applica-
tions, such as the striking entrance wall below.
The fireplace on the left, below (top row), blends river stones with
fieldstone for a stunning overall appearance. Below right (top row), the placement of stones on the edges of both the
mantel shelf and hearth,
as well as a framed niche just above the mantel, gives this fireplace a
very unique and distinctive look. Bottom right, the wall of glass fram-
ing this fireplace, made possible with a direct vent gas unit, provides a stunning panorama of the wooded landscape just beyond.
Stunning design pictured above by master stone artisan, Lew French.
The following photos depict a variety of looks that are possible with a river rock surround. Note the
varying styles, as well as the geographic differ-
ences in stone coloration.
Outdoors, a river stone surround complements the landscape and provides a natural accompaniment to a wooded setting or retreat.
Outdoor hearth, above, by Valley Masonry
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