Be hearth-healthy with these inviting and innovative fireplaces.
Fireplaces are hot in every sense of the word. But they’d be even hotter and smokier if not for the efforts of a 17th century Bohemian prince, a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, and a Founding Father of the United States. In 1678, Prince Rupert (nephew of Charles I) improved fireplace airflow by raising the grate; in the 18th century, Count Rumford designed tall, shallow fireboxes to improve ventilation, and Benjamin Franklin developed a convection chamber to more evenly distribute heat.
Whereas these pioneers elevated wood-burning efficiency in the home, modern fireplace and mantel manufacturers are revolutionizing the aesthetics. Valley-based companies like Stone Source, LLC eschew the “one size fits all approach” to create fireplaces that fit individual customers’ tastes. “We like to carve custom, specific to the client or project. We rarely do anything twice,” says Stone Source managing partner Greg Mortimer. By using a variety of stone types – limestone, marble, travertine, cantera – Mortimer says they can “offer a whole gamut of colors,” along with unique designs like a three-sided fireplace. “This allows viewing of the fireplace from multiple sides and even multiple rooms, but it requires a large space,” Mortimer says.
Many of the fireplaces at Phoenix-based Facings of America were hand-carved in Tuscany, Italy. Though many of the hearths they offer are carved from travertine, owner Ken Tims says contemporary buyers are looking for “more clean-lined, upscale aesthetics,” achieved through the use of marble and limestone. “Then it’s not just a fireplace, but a conversation piece,” Tims says. If a hand-carved, custom model isn’t in the budget, Facings of America also stocks about seven “standard” fireplace models starting at around $2,000.
Arizona Fireplaces’ inventory ranges from masonry hearths to alcohol- and wood-burning fireplaces, but their gas units from Town & Country Luxury Fireplaces are real crowd-pleasers. The TC42 model (pictured above) uses natural gas or propane with electronic ignition to ignite flames over a choice of burners (logs, river rocks, or tumbled glass), and includes a battery back-up in case of power outages. The hearth is flush to look like a real wood-burning fire, emanating cozy vibes minus the fumes.
“Triple play” fireplace mantel and surround
With three sides, this fireplace mantel carved in cantera offers a fiery view from anywhere in the room. Shown in Pinon Blanco (standard cantera color). Prices vary, but a standard cantera-carved fireplace from Stone Source runs around $1,800.
Stone Source, LLC
17606 N. 32nd St., Phoenix
This fireplace, hand-carved from travertine in Tuscany, Italy, provides a classic look with a stone slab hearth ($5,000).
Facings of America
4121 N. 27th St., Phoenix
Widescreen gas fireplace
Offering a “widescreen” format that makes the fireplace look like a flat-screen TV monitor, these “clean face gas fireplaces” can be installed up to 110 feet from an exterior wall, and are framed by porcelain panels (available in black, brown, copper, or titanium). Call for pricing.
3435 E. Atlanta Ave., Phoenix