A brick fireplace can give a warm feeling to a living area. Brick is easier to work with than stone because of the standardised shape and size of the bricks. Also, brick tends to be more easily available than stone. A brick fireplace can be built in an understated, classic manner, or it can be livened up through contemporary and creative design techniques.
A mantel above the fireplace increases the flexibility of the fireplace area in terms of storage and decoration. The mantel can be built out of brick along with the rest of the fireplace, or it can be made using a large piece of wood or some flat stones. The mantel is the ideal place for seasonal decorations, aesthetic additions that will complement the beauty of the brick itself. A large brick mantel can be included in the design by making the brick facade of the fireplace wider than it strictly needs to be. In some cases, the entire wall in which the fireplace is inset is faced with brick, which allows the opportunity to build a very long mantel.
The area above the fireplace can be made a point of focus and visual interest by building the brick in a decorative pattern rather than in the conventional straight rows. Bricks can be laid in a herringbone pattern, a series of concentric boxes and many other patterns. Bricks can also be laid so that some of them protrude from the wall, thus creating a unique texture on the face of the fireplace. Bricks can also be bought in different colours, adding to the design possibilities, as well as in antiqued form. Antiqued bricks have been partially blackened and discoloured in order to resemble bricks that have been in place for many years.
The hearth is the place in front of the fireplace that was traditionally used for cooking operations. It is usually characterised by being covered in a nonflammable material such as brick, stone or ceramic. A brick fireplace would usually have a brick hearth in front of it, in order to maintain a consistency of material. Hearths can be simple, flat affairs that serve only to separate the fireplace from the possibly flammable floor, or they can be made decorative by the inclusion of creatively laid brick or the addition of items such as brass foot rails.
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