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With glimmers of optimism in the economy, homeowners are more confident and ready to change their homes and experiment with different colors and design styles that reflect the following trends emerging in 2014.

Back to basics. Black and white will be popular for 2014. Both are timeless classics and can be easily juxtaposed with different colors and textures. Charcoal will remain de rigueur.

Pops of color. Vibrant hues such as coral, yellow-green and bright blue and green will dominate infusing vivid accents into neutral palettes. You can never go wrong with a blue and white combo.

A crisp blue and white color scheme is always in style, especially along the coast.

A crisp blue and white color scheme is always in style, especially along the coast.

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With the holidays nearing, it’s fun to imagine cozying up by a crackling fire on a chilly winter evening.

And while fireplaces are not as popular as they were years ago – when central heat was nonexistent – I do believe that a home without a fireplace is missing an important element.

Whether you opt for a traditional, contemporary or transitional style, a fireplace is the natural focal point of any room and should always make a dramatic statement.

The lobby of the historic Grande Colonial in La Jolla has a fireplace which reflects the hotel’s distinctive Colonial Revival style.

A key component of a fireplace is the “surround” – the material surrounding it which ensures its safety and enhances its design and beauty. The surround is an important architectural element which should always complement your color palette and décor.

Redoing a fireplace surround is a fairly simple upgrade that can make a tremendous difference to the overall look of your room. There are many options from which to choose, among them:

  • Wood: A rich wood surround can lend a historic touch and withstand the test of time. Options can include walnut, ebony or maple. Depending on the décor, you can paint the wood a glossy or satin white.
  • Tile: This can range from a delicate mosaic to vibrant Portuguese glazed tiles to glass to ceramics.
  • Brick: For an antique appearance, use repurposed bricks or try painting them a crisp white.
  • Traditional stone: This look offers a dramatic, rustic motif. A sampling of options includes river rock, sandstone, flagstone and more.
  • Hand-carved cast stone: This alternative is not always so simple, but unfailingly beautiful. To infuse a warm, residential feel, we installed a series of cast stone fireplaces – hand-carved by a multigenerational family in a small Italian town – throughout The Grand Del Mar, a luxury resort just north of San Diego.

The lobby of The Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego features a beautiful fireplace of hand carved stone

Other beautiful fireplace surround alternatives include marble or granite, for an elegant traditional look; or stainless steel or concrete, if you prefer a sleek contemporary motif.

Additional design considerations include the hearth, which is actually the fireplace floor and typically extends into the room and is comprised of sturdy, fireproof materials such as brick, stone or cement. A raised hearth is set up off the ground, as opposed to a flush hearth, which is even with the floor. If you choose to install a raised hearth for extra seating, it should sit between 18” and 22” high.

A sophisticated living room in a Chicago Townhome showcases a simple yet elegant fireplace.

Also important is the mantel, which some homeowners choose to eliminate for a more modern look. The mantel can be the same – or a complementing material – as your surround.

And don’t forget the fireplace tools, which should be functional but can infuse a decorative accent. For accessories, I love shopping at The Hearthstone in Corona Del Mar, Calif.

This living room at Kootenai Estates in Montana features a rustic fireplace with a stone façade.

Whatever style fireplace you choose, it will surely add an elegant – and warm – focal point to your home. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on fireplace styles, accents and materials.



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