Our family vacation destination of choice over the last couple of decades 
has been this breathtaking spot

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park

With only a very few exceptions, we have come here every year
We've been coming here long enough to know exactly the perfect time to visit

when the waterfalls are at their fullest

before the weather is hot
and the crowds and mosquitoes arrive
My son is less than a year old in this photo
he's 26 now
Yosemite is his second home

As familiar to him as our own back yard
only this back yard is a LOT bigger

we usually stay here - in Curry Village
here I can feel like I'm camping out
hear the wind in the pine trees
or the rain on the canvas roof
and in the morning I can wake to the sounds of the early birds -
both feathered and human

but I have a bed,
a pool,
a lodge,
shops, bike rentals and a pizza patio
Now that's MY kind of camping out

We stayed here once... the awe inspiring Awahnee Hotel
nestled among the granite cliffs
one of the great lodges

we ate here

and sat here
lovely, isn't it?

I can't think of a better place to start a discussion about fireplaces...
but first, how about a better perspective on this fireplace. . .

it is actually large enough to sit and stand inside
but remains in perfect scale to the cathedral ceiling in the great room it which it resides
and is just one of several equally impressive fireplaces in this great hotel

which is open to the public
so you don't have to be a guest to enjoy the ambiance
or have breakfast or dinner in the dining room with the spectacular views

But I digress....
back to fireplaces..

If you are fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your own home, you know how cozy a cool evening and a warm glow can be.  It is also often the focal point of your room - or should be.  Sometimes our fireplaces are a little drab - a basic hole in the wall with a mantel (if you are lucky) stuck on top.  My first home had an exposed brick fireplace and a big painted chunk of wood as a mantle.  It was as forgettable as you could get - or so I thought until I met my fireplace in our second home - white painted brick with a painted brick mantle.  I was glad it nearly disappeared into the wall around it.

A fireplace should be a feature in a room - a spot that a room can be designed around.  Fireplaces are a true asset.  It should invite you, warm you and be a solid statement - not blend into the surrounding wall.  

But take heart - if you have a forgettable fireplace, it doesn't have to remain that way. 

Country Living
In exploring fireplaces, I found a few that quickly became my favorites...
like this beautiful grey stone-clad fireplace
there is no mistaking that this is the focal point of the room

I am also drawn to fireplaces with paneling and built-in cabinetry - making a statement much bigger than the fireplace alone - like this dramatic black painted paneled surround and bookshelves.  Think beyond the fireplace to the entire wall - use the space to add panels, bookshelves, mantle and moldings.
Brooke Gianetti
attention to detail is evident in the molding and trim on this paneled fireplace wall
and this symmetrical setting is most pleasing
everything well balanced
the fireplace and bookshelves working together as a unit

Desde My Ventana
drool-worthy massive stone fireplace
in a french chateau
doesn't hurt to dream....

Custom Precast Stone
but, more likely than not
you and I will not end up in a french chateau with period architecture
so.... a happy alternative

Antique limestone or cast stone reproductions of antique fireplaces
with their massive silhouettes and generous mantles
make my heart go pitter-pat
Tailor made to fit your space, these are fairly quick fixes for a non-descript black hole in the wall.
precast stone fireplaces are reproductions of antiques
in a variety of finishes
and a variety of styles
Charme d'Antan
If you prefer the real thing,  Los Angeles shop, Charme D'Antan, LLC, offers both antique and reproduction french limestone fireplaces

Details International
Vintage and quintessentially 'craftsman' looking, the chunky stacked stone pilasters are eye catching  in this peek through fireplace design -
shared by two spaces - a warm, inviting room divider
Another wood design, the fluted columns in this design draw your eye upward
and create a feeling of height in a room

Custom Precast Stone
the same effect is achieved with this precast stone fireplace -
raise your fireplace to new heights
and create a stunning focal point
Alex Molding
another beautiful fireplace with built-in cupboards and shelves
I love the painted bead board panelling backing the shelves and topping the fireplace mantle
another craftsman style fireplace wall
with built-in glass fronted cabinets

cabinet and panel detail
Here's a product that allows you to design your own...
Garden Stone has created a series of man made chunky moldings, chair rails, carvings and embellishments that you can put together with other stone products to create your own custom  fireplace.  You are limited only by your imagination... I love this product.!

Here's a fireplace I created with this product and beautiful slate
in a contemporary setting with a space issue....

More beautiful fireplaces.....
Brooke Gianetti
Brooke's impeccable classic styling.  Simply beautiful.

Martha Stewart
if you love this cottage look, keep your eyes peeled for one that fits your space
at antique shows or flea markets

I've discovered that the actual style of the fireplace isn't as important to me as whether it is substantial, makes a statement, or creates a strong focal point.  They can be stone, brick, cast stone, or wood if they also speak the language above. 
This one certainly fits the bill - a wonderful rustic-yet-sophisticated
stacked stone peek-through fireplace with a clever mantle/niche built in.
It quite simply makes the room.

more cast stone sources

Mantles Direct

Have you ever wished you had a fireplace in your bedroom - or your bathroom?  Wouldn't you love a fireplace in your dining room?  Or your home office?

Direct vent fireplaces
Direct vent fireplaces do not require a chimney and can be vented directly through a wall or roof.

they can be installed anywhere a vent can be installed through an exterior wall or a roof.  Doesn't that just open up a world of possibilities? 

For even more possibilities, and a more modern look, a vent less fireplace combines the warmth of a fire hung on a wall - no ventilation necessary as it is fueled by gel or ethanol.

More eye candy....
Patina Finishes

True Craftsman

When you are planning your mantle, make sure your mantle area is deep enough for what you would like to display.   I like 10 - 12 inches so I can layer instead of just line up....

J Steinberg Design
 Stacked stone, in a lovely light beige and a simple application

 Another nod to Craftsman design -
mantle and bookcases united with one long mantle

stone fireplace - rustic and warm

Well, I'm inspired.... I'm ready to redo my fireplace in the family room
and maybe add one in the master bedroom or bath
all I need is a little wall space....

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