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Burning Desires: Hearth Design

When it comes to how your hearth looks, the options are endless, and the decision is all yours.

When it comes to how your hearth looks, the options are endless, and the decision is all yours.

By Donna Peak

By now, you're probably familiar with the different kinds of hearth options on the market. Wood-burning or gas-fueled, masonry-built or factory-produced, you've likely already decided which choice is the right one for you. But beyond the mechanics, what do you want your hearth to look like? What message do you want it to convey about your overall decor scheme? This is an area worth exploring, because your hearth isn't just a way to warm your home on cool autumn evenings; it's a permanent, immovable decor element in your room. The facing materials and style you choose will set the tone for the rest of the decorative elements in the space.

So as you're planning your home, think about how you want to decorate, and skim these pages for inspiration. Whether your style is the rustic sophistication of an upscale Colorado lodge or the down-home comfort of a cabin in the wilds of Wisconsin, the hearth you choose will speak volumes about who you are and how you live.

Ahhh ... the rush of the wind as you swoosh down the mountain, poles tucked close to your sides and glistening snow beneath your skis. What better way to cap off a day at the slopes than by propping up your feet as you sip a cocktail in the lodge lobby. But wait--this is no Vail lodge; this is your home. And the massive fieldstone fireplace is the reason why you've lost yourself in the skier's fantasy. With seating strategically placed for fireplace views, there's no mistaking that the mammoth floor-to-ceiling hearth is the focal point of this great room, and the lodge feeling it creates is undeniable.

Alpine Log Homes Photo by Dann Coffey

Period Perfection

If classic 19th-century Americana is the look you're after, then combine square, adze-hewn logs with a Rumford-style fireplace. The shallow firebox not only produces more than enough heat to warm a room, its large opening with vertically stacked firewood is a perfect way to set the historical mood. Here, limestone cut into random-width bricks offers a bright contrast to the wood tones of the parlor walls and the understated mantel.

Photo by Brad Simmons / Produced by Brenda Kelly

Camp Creations

Sometimes, smaller makes one heck of a big impact. That's the case with this quaint, cast-iron wood-burning stove. Though small in stature, it generates a huge amount of cabin ambiance (as well as heat). A simple river-rock backdrop and protective pad prevent it from scorching the log walls and carpet, and the radiant heat it produces is perfect for keeping a pot of chicory coffee warm on a crisp mountain morning.

Photo by Roger Wade

Story by Donna Peak

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