Marble Fireplaces - Qualities and Advantages of Marble
Georgian fireplaces, carved marble and faux marble
Marble fireplaces have an ancient lineage. This stone has been used in architecture since the Hellenistic era, with which it is particularly associated. Geologically speaking, it's limestone which 500 million years ago was cooked by super pressures and temperatures into a harder, more polishable form. And somewhat poetically it's the impurities - the compounds running in veins through the stone and the odd fossil harking back to its birth as the skeletons of prehistoric animals - which give marble its special appearance. And because every piece of marble is unique, so is every marble fireplace.
The reason marble fireplaces are expensive - which they are - is the time and care they take to source and craft. It also depends on the rarity of the marble being used - pure white is among the least common. Luckily, although mechanization has decreased the rarity of carved marble, it has also reduced the price and it's now possible to find fireplaces for several hundred, rather than several thousand, pounds.
Or you could consider a faux marble fireplace. Imitation marble is often difficult to distinguish from the real thing except it's cheaper and doesn't feel quite as cold. Although modern technology has expanded the selection of faux materials available, the concept has been around for much longer. In Georgian (18 th century) times, an imitation substance called scagliola, made from powdered marble, gypsum, lime and plaster, was used as an inlay with real marble to create a distinctive style. The king of Georgian fireplaces - a period in which marble was particularly popular - was Robert Adam, who studied Roman architecture in Italy before he took his craft back to Britain . Josiah Wedgwood's famous ceramic work was also incorporated into marble fireplaces of the period. If you are considering a marble fireplace today, Georgian or mock-Georgian styles fit particularly well with the medium. But there are plenty of contemporary styles too, or you could commission one yourself if you have the money - look at fireplace design books for ideas.
The color is as important as the material. Natural marble varies wildly in hue and texture, from blue to cream to dark brown or red. Faux marble comes in as many or more colors, including black/gold. What will suit your room will depend on its size, structure and the rest of the décor (unless you're decorating to suit the fireplace and not vice-versa). As with all deep tones, dark marble in particular can look oppressive or dramatic depending on the context. There are no fixed rules though. It's a matter of thought and personal taste - after all, it's you who will be looking at it from day to day.