The first element is the type of fire itself.
The consideration of wood or gas is most relevant at the final stage – the lighting of the fire. With an actual wood fire you will never lack the sound of a wood fire crackling and glow of real embers. The alternative is a gas insert. There are many new and different designs for gas flames as well models of inserts themselves.
The second element for consideration is the facing on the structure.
This is where there are the most trends, even regionally. Traditionally, brick has been the first choice among homeowners. With the advent of manufactured stone, the cost and availability has made it a popular choice. A coat of stucco has always been popular in the southwest regions. We even see a modern trend of poured concrete or even fabricated metals in very contemporary structures.
The third element is choice of mantle.
This is where the fun really starts. How much mixing and matching are you comfortable with? Something to keep in mind is balance and proportion. Mixing materials and even styles is smart and sexy, just make sure your mantle doesn’t outweigh your fireplace or the opposite.
The fourth element is the hearth.
Functionality can be a consideration when choosing materials for the hearth of a fireplace. A plus is that it will capture heat from the fire and release radiant heat for some time after the fire is out. Will it also provide for extra seating if it is long and wide enough? Additionally, will clean-up be an issue if you are burning real wood and have wood residue and ash?
The fifth element is add-ons.
These can include a wood box, shelving for books, a niche for art or for components like TV’s and audio/video equipment. Wherever these add-ons may be incorporated within your design, remember the heat that your fireplace can produce.