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Kindling Creativity

A fireplace not only adds warmth to any room, it also sets the tone

Sticks and stones

Big stone fireplaces tend to be monolithic, unless they’re the creation of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., mason Lew French. French’s definition of rock leaps from boulder to pebble to ledge and beyond. Given free rein by the homeowners, French created a fireplace incorporating lichen-encrusted fieldstone, reclaimed stone slabs, and driftwood stacked as sensibly—and as randomly—as if it had occurred in nature. Along the way, French reinterpreted classic fireplace elements, from display niches to a detached hearth. Photo by: Charles Bickford.
Click to enlarge image

Two sides of the same story

Connecting a conditioned sunporch and a contemporary family room, this fireplace’s outward appearance changes markedly from one side to the other. In both cases, the goal is a sense of simplicity. The owners of the Montpelier, Vt., home are avid collectors of contemporary and traditional Japanese art and wanted the design to reflect a balance between old and new, said architect Sandra Vitzthum. Photos by: Carolyn Bates.
Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image

Sizing up a solution

When the decision to add a second floor squashed Tom and Nina Morrisson’s plans for a great room with a cathedral ceiling, it also forced them to downsize their fireplace. Working with limited height, Nina turned to weighty lintels and intricate stonework. Inspired by a fireplace on the Web site of Goshen, Conn., mason Glenn Guilman (, Nina clipped computer images of individual stones, resizing and rearranging them to get the right proportions. She then contacted Guilman and had her vision built. Photo by: Nina Morrisson.
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Old look, new challenge

The unusual joints on this Vermont fireplace reflect the homeowners’ desire to imitate Swiss stonework in their New England home. But it wasn’t a style they sought to copy as much as it was the appearance of old parged stone walls that had lost chunks of their surface mortar, allowing the stones beneath to poke through. Mason Keith Thomas and his crew replicated the look by using bricks to space out the stones before covering them with mortar. Photo by: Ned Gray.
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From Fine Homebuilding200 , pp. 84-85 November 12, 2008
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