The stone masonry fireplace has been a fixture in all manner of dwellings from cottages to castles for centuries . . . . .
. . . . . . . From rugged and rustic to refined and regal, it has served its occupants well as both a source of heat and a center for cooking.
More recently, it has functioned as a decorative element and a gathering area for entertaining family and friends . . . . . or simply as a place to go when you want to relax. The cozy river stone fireplace below is a "picture perfect" example of a present-day all masonry hearth.
A stone masonry fireplace is solid and substantial and weighs up to six or seven tons . . . or more. Utilizing a combination of stone or concrete, brick and firebrick to construct the foundation and firebox, and clay tiles to line the chimney flue, the exterior of the fireplace and chimney is clad with stone. Extremely durable, it is designed to last a very long time.
The stone used to clad the exterior comes in a wide variety of types, sizes, shapes, textures, colors
and finishes . . . . . . . offering a virtually limitless range of design options. Even the same stone type
can be manip-
ulated by human hands . . . . . by cutting and splitting . . . . . to achieve a variety of different looks. For example, the fireplaces below are both made of granite. However, while the example on the left is constructed with boulders and large stone slabs for a very rugged appearance, the one on the right looks a little less rugged by using slightly smaller stones -- albeit in random sizes and irregular shapes -- that have been roughly cut or split . . . . . . .
. . . while the granite stones in the fireplace at right have been rather uniformly cut and assembled in courses or rows for a more refined look.
Granite is available in a rainbow of colors and beautiful patterns and textures, which it gets from the
minerals comprising it, such as quartz and various feldspars and micas. Due to varying mineral com-
positions from one geographic area
to another, the coloration and pat-
terning of granite often varies from
one area to another, as well.
Fieldstone also comes in a wide range of colors and hues which vary from region to region. And, as with granite, it can also be manipulated by human hands to achieve a variety of different looks, as shown in the examples be-
low. The beautiful example on the right (top row) is by master stone arti-
san Lew French. See more extraordinary stone fireplace designs by Lew French!
For a more formal looking stone masonry fireplace, limestone is a popular choice. A very durable building material, limestone has a uniform texture and grade, and its color mellows and blends into a pleasing natural patina that actually improves with age. A unique characteristic of some types of limestone is the fossils and seashells often found embedded in the surface, adding an organic element.
The European and European-inspired designs pictured below show some of the looks that can be created with a limestone mantel and surround.
And last, but far from least . . . . . is the interior of the firebox, itself . . . . which offers a myriad of
additional opportunities to create a distinctive and uniquely per-
sonal stone masonry fireplace design. As shown below, the firebrick used to line the firebox is available in a range of sizes and colors and can be set in a variety of lovely patterns to put the finishing touch on your stone
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