Winter is back, the days have shortened and the evenings have gotten colder. What’s better than going home to the warmth of your fireplace? The fireplace has been part of our homes for centuries, and stone has always been the preferred material to build it. But why is it still to this day the best material for a chimney?
From marble to travertine: what’s the best choice?
Stone, marble, travertine: there is a wide range of materials to choose from, and picking one is not always easy. Building your chimney in natural stone sure comes with many advantages, because natural stone is extremely resistant, low-maintenance, and much more durable than brick. The difference lies in the the look you want to give it, also taking into consideration how the material you choose can match the furniture and the rest of the house.
Stone is particularly versatile, and some types of stone are suitable for every requirement. Limestone or soapstone, for example, can give a rather minimal and clean look, and perfectly fit modern environments, while rough materials, such as slate, are a better match for more rustic environments, that feel like an old country house.
Marble is the optimal choice when it comes to building an elegant, sophisticated fireplace, and it comes in a wide range of colours and tones, including the infamous travertine, which perfectly suits modern houses. Last but not least, there is granite, which is unquestionably the most resistant and hardest of all the kinds of stone available, and is also a great material for all the houses that have a more contemporary design.
Why stone makes the environment warmer
Natural stone is a great conductor of heat, and can make the fireplace work to the maximum of its capacities, as it gathers heat and radiates it even after the source of heat has died down. This natural mechanism allows you to have all the benefits of a lit fireplace by saving on wood, unlike fireplaces built in other materials, such as bricks, which are not good conductors of heat.
However, heat will be diffused with different intensity, depending on the kind of stone the fireplace is built with. This is why it’s crucial to keep in mind what materials are good conductors of heat when designing your fireplace.
Marble and limestones are great examples of materials that are great at gathering heat, and they reach very high temperatures, while granite is the best conductor, but disperses it more rapidly. Conversely, soapstone diffuses heat more slowly and homogeneously, leaving the room warm even after the fireplace has been shut off.
Design ideas: from gothic to modern styles
As with all of the furnishing elements, stone chimneys too have considerably changed over time. They’ve been part of our homes since the rise of gothic architecture, which fancied very large chimneys as the focal point of the living environment.
As the studies in the field of interior design evolved, the fireplace slowly became not only a functional element, but also an accessory, inspiring the creation of ever more innovative solutions. Both the chimney mouth and the extractor hood were initially built inside the room and took up a lot of space, while nowadays they are much more discreet and elegant, oftentimes embedded into the wall, following a more minimal and contemporary aesthetic line. You can also decide whether to build your fireplace at floor level or raised, according to your needs.
The evolution of architecture and interior design allows you to design your own fireplace with potentially infinite solutions, also thanks to the extreme versatility of stone and marble, which adapt perfectly to any kind of home.