Though many elements factor into the making of a successful
fireplace, one of the most important is the design of the
surround. The challenge is to marry the appropriate surround to
the fireplace's context. There are essentially two types of
surrounds: the hole-in-the-wall treatment and the focal
treatment. Each suits a different set of conditions as defined
by the room's use and mood. The hole-in-the-wall surround suits
a fireplace that is one element among many within a
multifaceted wall. It works best as part of an active,
multifunctional space. The focal surround befits a fireplace
that is a central feature in a quiet, more static room.
Katie Hutchisonis an architect and owner of Earthlight
Design in Salem, Mass.