Question: What is your preferred material for fireplace surrounds?
Phoebe's Answer: We love mantles - Jim and I often buy antique mantles when abroad, and we also design mantles for clients. The type of mantle dictates whether you need a surround. If the mantle is wood, you have to have a stone surround for fire safety. If the mantle itself is stone, you can skip the surround, which we sometimes do. The other time the surround material is not important is if you are designing a non-working fireplace. Often, but not always, we design surrounds to be eight inches on the top and on each side. For the actual surround material, we like to use slate, marble or another kind of solid colored stone. Every once in a while, we use brick, too. Here are some examples: