Wednesday, August 8, 2012

French Style Fireplaces and Mantels: Which is your favorite?

Good morning everyone!

The most recent discussion with our builder has focused around if we should construct four full masonry fireplaces. As with anything there are pro's and con's.  Our builder no longer recommends that solid masonry fireplaces be constructed due to energy efficiency.  Our state has enacted energy codes that all new homes must meet.  Since masonry fireplaces are responsible for a great amount of energy loss in our homes (especially during a cold Indiana winter), it has been recommended that we use sealed inserts.  Additionally our design only calls for the mantel to be exposed so the design of a solid masonry fireplace would go unseen behind the walls.  The debate goes on!  Let us know your experience good or bad with solid masonry fireplaces.

To the more exciting part of today's post......we want to choose a mantel style before searching the yards and warehouses for the "perfect" mantel.  There are so many great choices, but we want to know which is your favorite.

We really like the look of this Limestone mantel.  The design has what I call a rustic elegance.

This cast stone mantel has a more traditional look with defined columns and a french arch.  Our ongoing full masonry debate is evident in these first two choices.  The first choice has no insert and is open.  This second choice has an insert (notice the black trim going around the firebox) which is covered by the fireplace screen.

Love the large cooking fireplace.  Okay so this won't go in our living or family room, but its still a fun choice.  A similar picture actually lead to our desire for having a mantel like hood over the kitchen range.  Look at the size of logs you can fit in the firebox!  The arched limestone ceiling is also amazing.

This limestone mantel looks great with the rustic stone.  I can't get over the height of the firebox.  This is certainly on our list of favorites, but would not work with an insert.

We took this photograph while touring a Jack Arnold home in Colorado.  This cast stone fireplace mantel style is high on our list, in addition to choice 1

We really like the angle above the mantel in this fireplace.  We also like the rustic wood beams and ceiling in this photograph. How great does that wood arch look? -Barbara Gilbert Designs

Another great limestone mantel.  I see this being used in a very formal setting.

This fireplace mantel seems to encompass the entire firebox.  A very simple design.

Another simple and elegant cast stone (limestone?) mantel used in this bedroom.  This scenario is very similar to ours.  If the mantel and firebox were not there, it would be difficult to detect a masonry fireplace behind the wall.

This cast stone fireplace is obviously for a grand space with tall ceilings.  We have 21ft. ceilings now and are over them.  Still like this formal look. This appears to have matching limestone shelving.

If we had to do a stone fireplace, this would be the one.  Such a rustic pattern and love the blue colors in the stone.  Does anyone know what kind of stone this is?  If we build a solid masonry fireplace this is the kind of detail we want to bring out of the wall.

Our bedroom has a corner that could accept a nice cozy fireplace.  We also have a wall that could benefit from the small limestone mantel shown in choice 9.  We thought this would be a different approach to creating a corner fireplace.  What do you think? Like it or no (the design not the stone)?

We like how the firebox is lifted slightly up off of the floor in this design. 

Another great solid masonry fireplace that showcases all of the stonework.  The stacked wood next to the firebox is both functional and looks great.  Maybe we need to build a lodge in the country also?

Hope you enjoyed some of our mantel design style choices.  We are curious to hear what you like.

Also we have updated "Our Favorite Blogs" shown in the right column.  We removed some that have quit updating, and added new blogs that we currently follow.  Check to make sure your blog is there and let us know if you would like added.

Hope everyone has a great day!

- Tonya and Rob


  1. I like all of your choices but am partial to 4, 9 and 12. Number 12 looks so old world and French country...I really like it.


  2. All of these are great. The first one is my fave. I guess you will choose different mantels with four fireplaces. So many choices. Can't help you with the fireplace question. We just have a cheap insert.

  3. I love 1 and 11. I want to recreate our basic traditional oak fireplace surround into a rustic wood version of number 1. So pretty!

  4. They are all great and I am had pressed to choose. I love anything with stone.

  5. Love 1 and 4. Let us know what you decide on the construction - always interested in new, energy efficient methods.

    All best,

  6. 1,7 & 11 - but those choices could change because I am not sure what room the fireplace will be in, ceiling height and size of room. But, I am a big sucker for a limestone fireplace!!! Good luck!!

  7. WOW! I like several of these...have to go with the rustic rock that looks like it's been there forever

  8. I think so much of this depends on the theme you are going with in the general vicinity. Number one and the Jack Arnold photograph.. love that! The stone image (I think it's #12) is very cozy, but I may not work as well as the others... though choices here!!


  9. They are all beautiful choices and I especially like #1 and #11. The stacked wood looks great but I would worry about bringing bugs and termites into the house. Just a thought!

  10. What a well timed post! Just this week we installed a fireplace as part of our new home build (in fact, it will be the subject of my next blog post!), but for expense and efficiency reasons, did the "regular" wood burning fp. As for the finishing...this is exactly where we are right now. What to choose? But since we almost went timber frame, our "pie in the sky" favourite of all your examples? Hands down...number 14. Wowza:)

  11. It looks like you have some decisions to make. You really don't need anyone else to give you advice when it comes to something this big. Which do you love? That is what you need to be thinking about, it's your home and you are going to be the one living in it. I am sure that your choice will be brilliant! I adore meeting creative blogging sisters and the process of sharing ideas and encouraging one another. You have so many marvelous ideas and I am confident in your ability to make the best design choices for your home. I am your newest follower. Come on over and see what I've been doing. I love company and my welcome mat is always out. Connie :)

  12. Was image number 4 taken from Chateau de Chenonceau? It was the most incredible kitchen. My favourite is the last image - but it would work better in a country house. Wow - 21 foot ceilings! whichever fireplace you decide to go with I think it should be taken all the way up to the ceiling. Good-luck!

  13. Oops! I meant image #3...

  14. I love so many...but I think #6 is my favorite.

  15. I love 1, 5, 6 and 7! Guess that helps a lot! They are all so beautiful! I love fireplaces and love incredible mantels! Can't wait to see what you end up choosing!

  16. Hi there,
    So happy to hae found your blog.
    I love so many of the styles of fire places featured.
    Perhaps number 1 is my favourite.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend,

  17. A Rumford firebox is the most energy efficient fireplace available. They are built from masonry and are quite expensive. If it were me, I would have that one in the room where I would use it the most (family room?) The other 3 fireplaces I would use wood burning inserts plumbed for gas so you have a choice of fuel. There might be a time when you NEED to burn wood out necessity.

    The part that most people notice, the mantel and over mantel can be any style that suits your fancy. Personally, I like the inserts with a herringbone pattern inside. Herringbone looks so European.

    If you have been looking at Jack Arnold homes, then you know about his decorative chimney pots. VERY pricey but gorgeous!

  18. I would install a masonry heater fireplace instead of a Rumford. The designs would look exactly the same on the outside, but why not heat that stone or brick up and save money on your heating bills?! Masonry heaters are truly the most efficient fireplace design available. The flue is designed so that the smoke moves through a series of heat channels before exiting your chimney... heating the brick/stone on the way up. Burn a strong fire in a masonry heater fireplace for 1-2 hours, and it will provide slow radiant heat into the home for 12-24 hours. When we build a new home, I am hoping to add one to the design plan.

  19. Wow so many beauties...I love many love 3 and 7 but theres not a bad one in the bunch!

  20. Don't know if my post disappeared! I like 3 and 7 but all are beautiful!

  21. I'm a little late (2 years!) but choice 4 is the proportions of a Rumford. Renaissance Fireplaces (out of Quebec) makes one with steel liner, new option of firebrick liner (vs their previous stamped vermiculite liner which our architect did not like), and a 'guillotine' glass door and screen. Very clean, burns hot. However, you cannot damp it down like a stove, which you can do with other inserts.


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