Stone fireplace ideas – surround your fire with natural elegance

Choose a stone fireplace to frame your fire or wood burner beautifully

stone fireplace and chimney breast in wood-frame house
(Image credit: Sharps)

Stone fireplace ideas are a wonderful addition to any room. A fireplace is a natural focal point in any room. We arrange our furniture around it, decorate the mantelpiece above it, gather in front of the flickering flames in the wintertime, and dress up the hearth with fairy lights and flowers when the temperature is too warm to light the fire.

There are lots of fireplace ideas to choose from, but if you're looking for a look that combines elegance with natural beauty, then a stone fireplace could be the option for you.

Stone fireplace ideas

If you live in an older house, you may have inherited a traditional stone fireplace that you'd like to update. Or perhaps you're looking for a contemporary take on stone fireplace ideas, to create a show-stopping focal point in your living room or entertaining space.

'Fireplace options can feel endlessly daunting so narrow down the choice by selecting your preferred fuel type first. Gas, log, coal and bioethanol options are all available on the market,' suggests interior designer Jojo Bradley.

'Bioethanol is a great solution if there is no access to a flue as this is a smoke-free option. Gas fires have controllability and are a completely mess-free solution but nothing really beats the all-round aesthetic of a log-burning stove. With plenty of modern and traditional options available, as well as colours, you really can select something for every room.'

Stone comes in a wide range of colours, textures and finishes, so you're sure to find a style that suits you.

1. Add an elegant touch with marble

marble fireplace in cream painted room

(Image credit: Renaissance London)

The beautiful veining and smooth texture of marble makes it one of the most elegant materials for any stone fireplace ideas – and using the material as a focal point around your fire is one of the most effective ways of decorating with marble accents. 

The marble can be carved and shaped to add elegant details like rosettes and finials, replicating the look of period fireplaces found in Georgian homes. Or if you're looking for more modern fireplace ideas, you could choose a contemporary design with clean lines and minimal detailing, where the marble itself is the star.

'Marble fireplaces range from very contemporary and minimalist to classic designs suitable for all styles of homes,' suggests Sue Ellinas, Director at Minnie & Grouse Interiors. 'A marble fireplace can be a great way to create a focal point in a room. You don’t always need a chimney or an alcove if you just want it to create a centrepiece rather than having a  working fireplace. You can use a marble fireplace surround to frame a vase of dried flowers or a house plant, or fill it with logs for a contemporary look.

'The natural veins and colouring in the marble can also be a great starting place for the colour palette for your room – for example, a lilac marble can have beautiful soft greys and pinky tones, which are particularly on-trend this year. Marble comes in so many different colours, from the dark and moody to light delicate finishes, so there is a colour and style to suit every home.'

2. Choose a contemporary shape

contemporary stone fireplace in grey living room with dark floral curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

Stone fireplace ideas range from rough riven rock, which can bring a rustic farmhouse feel to a room, to simple polished stone that looks pared back and elegant.

If you love the warmth and feel of stone but don't want a textured look, then opting for a contemporary graphic shape, like this squared-off design, will provide the best of both worlds. This can also be a good choice when you're considering small living room fireplace ideas, as the simplicity of the design won't overwhelm the compact space.

Choose a wide-framed stone fireplace design and you can also decorate the mantel – the simplicity of the fireplace means you can add lots of detail to your display, as the overall look won't be overloaded. Think of it as an extra shelf ready to fill with lovely living room shelving ideas.

3. Create contrast with a colourful stove

stone fireplace with pink electric stove

(Image credit: Everhot)

Burning fewer logs to provide the same heat as an open fire, a wood burner is an energy-efficient addition to your living room. You'll need a flue if your wood burner ideas centre on installing a traditional design. But if the chimney in your stone fireplace is closed up or not in good enough repair to handle the smoke, or if you don't want to clean up after a log fire, then an electric stove could be the answer. And if it adds a brilliant pop of colour to contrast with your stone fireplace, even better!

'With simple and easy installation using just one 13-amp plug, choosing an electric stove means you aren't limited by having to install a flue, or the ongoing costs of an annual service or chimney sweep. Or indeed the mess,' says Graham Duke, sales director at Everhot. 'They are the perfect choice as a stunning focal point in a living room, snug or spare room fireplace, and the wide range of colours means they complement a myriad of natural shades of stone and interiors.'

4. Paint the stone for a quick refresh

white painted brick fireplace in room with pretty blue wallpaper with flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

Ever asked yourself, how can I update a 1970's fireplace? You're not alone. Large brick fire surrounds were common in the 1970s, and ripping them out and replacing them with an updated version isn't always top of our decorating priorities.

For a quick and inexpensive update that will conceal ugly brick or stonework, and coordinate with the decor in your room, getting out the paint is a surprisingly effective addition to your stone fireplace ideas.

For the most professional look for your living room paint ideas, apply your brushwork to the entire fireplace, including the mantelpiece, fire surround and even the hearth. Instead of an eyesore, you'll have a fresh and bright focal point in your room.

5. Take the stone up to the ceiling

stone fireplace and chimney breast in wood-frame house

(Image credit: Future PLC / Mark Bolton)

Stone chimney breasts that incorporate the fireplace and reach the full height of a room aren't just the preserve of period houses. A grand statement stone fireplace looks equally at home in a new build or barn conversion, where the impressive scale and textural stone can add warmth and interest to a double-height space, making it a great feature wall idea.

'In a period property, you may find that the stone chimney has been concealed behind board or covered over with plaster, so it's worth investigating if you think that may be the case,' says Ideal Home's Deputy Editor, Ginevra Benedetti. 'If your house was built at the same time as your neighbour's, you could ask what their fireplace looks like. Or use a chisel to carefully chip away at the wall; you can always fill in the hole afterwards if there's nothing to see.'

6. Think about using slate for your stone fireplace

Slate fireplace in white living room with armchair

(Image credit: Future PLC)

With its slight sheen, natural texture and deep grey colour, slate is one of the most beautiful stones to incorporate into your fireplace design – and a smart addition to your grey living room ideas. You could choose to build your fireplace from layers of slate, for a richly textured and contemporary design.

A less expensive option is to use slate tiles. For your fireplace tile ideas, you could cover the entire chimney breast with large-format slate tiles to make it a feature. Or opt for smaller tiles that can be used around the fireplace and across the hearth to bring the beauty of slate to your fireside.

7. Look for a strikingly different stone fireplace design

contemporary stone fireplace with built-in fire

(Image credit: Solution Fires)

Contemporary homes turn upside down the conventional idea of a stone fireplace with a traditional surround and alcoves on either side. Advanced technology, flues that can be fitted almost anywhere, and architecture that allows for open-plan living spaces divided by a double-aspect fireplace, or a fire designed in the corner of a room to create a cosy set-up have transformed the look of stone fireplaces.

'A built-in electric fire is a fantastic option for those seeking a bespoke installation which is perfectly tailored to their space,' suggests Andy Hitchman, MD of Solution Fires. 'Options range in in size from 75cm wide to 2m, which can all be fitted as corner, front facing or panoramic appliances.'

8. Build a brick fireplace

brick full height fireplace in restored farmhouse

(Image credit: Design Alchemy)

If you love the idea of exposed brick walls but your property isn't built from the material, then a brick fireplace could be the answer. In this farmhouse, renovated by mother and daughter Deborah Costa and Kristine Renee, founders of interior design firm Design Alchemy, the original brick fireplace was restored – with some of the old paint left in place to enhance the home's sense of history.

In brick-built homes, one option is to expose the brick on the wall behind your fireplace. Drill a test hole in the plaster to check the condition of the brickwork and its colour – you don't want to go to the trouble of exposing it, only to find it's in poor condition or you don't like the shade of the bricks themselves.

9. Restore and maintain a period fireplace

traditional stone fireplace with cream armchairs in front

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day Photography)

If you're fortunate to have an original stone fireplace in your home, you'll need to check it's in good repair before you even start to think about lighting the fire. It is well worth calling in a professional to check the chimney and assess whether it needs to be lined to stop smoke and fumes leaking into the house. A clean chimney will also help the fire burn more efficiently, for a warm and toasty room.

Even if you have a new fireplace, you'll need to clean and maintain the chimney and clean any wood burner for the cleanest, brightest burn.

10. Install a built-in fire within a traditional stone fireplace

contemporary stone fireplace with built-in fire

(Image credit: Solution Fires)

For a best-of-both-worlds solution, combine the instant heat and app control of a built-in electric fire with a beautiful stone mantel.

'This Corinthian Stone mantel from Capital Fires is made from natural limestone and creates a homely, cosy feel with its rich sandy colour and delicate warm feel,' says Andy Hitchman of Solutions Fires. 'Paired with a built-in electric fire, it's an elegant update of a classic look.'

What's the best stone to put around a fireplace?

The choice of stone for a fireplace comes down to durability, cost and appearance. 

Granite is incredibly strong and durable, and one of the most frequently chosen natural stones for a fireplace.

Marble offers enduring elegance and endless variety with its veining and colourways but it is pricey and less robust than quartzite, which looks fairly similar.

Slate is robust and offers dark and moody look, while limestone is paler in appearance and brings a gentle warmth to a room.

'We use two different limestones. One is called Cabouca, which is quarried in Portugal. It is an attractive creamy colour and very dense, which means it’s possible to work it with precision and achieve straight lines and sharp edges and lends itself to detailed carving,' says Paul Chesney, CEO of fireplace specialist, Chesneys. 'The other is Bianco Avorio, which is quarried in Italy. It has a rougher texture and contains attractive fossils. We tend to use this for simpler more rustic designs of fire surround.'

For a cost-effective stone fireplace, you could also choose a stone cladding or veneer which loses less material to achieve the stone look.

Whether you choose solid stone or a veneer, it's worth noting that stone is porous and will need to be sealed to protect it from dirt, grease and other marks. Once sealed, it should only need a wipe with a damp cloth to keep it clean.

How do you maintain a stone fireplace?

It depends on the kind of stone that your fireplace is made from when it comes to intensive cleaning and some stones are more vulnerable to damage.

'Generally speaking, making sure you don’t let ash and debris build up is most important when caring for your fireplace. If you find a scratch in your stone, you just need some soft wire wool and some tea, seriously,' says Owen Pacey, founder of fireplace experts, Renaissance London.

'Do not ever put candles on stone fireplaces as wax is very difficult to get out. And keep the red wine off it! If these are spilled on you’ll need a poultice mix on it to draw out the staining.'

Andrea Childs

Andrea began her journalism career at Ideal Home and is currently Editor of our sister title, Country Homes & Interiors, which celebrates modern country style. Andrea is passionate about colour and how it can transform both our homes and our sense of wellbeing, and has completed The Power of Colour course with the prestigious KLC School of Design. Andrea's career spans interiors magazines, women's lifestyle titles and newspapers. After her first job at Ideal Home, she moved on to women's magazines, Options and Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor of Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for