A genuine stone fireplace will add a bold, beautiful look to any home. It will also enhance the resale value. A stone fireplace is not something you can pick up at your local home improvement store. You can find substitutes, of course. A "cast stone" fireplace will be made from pre-cast concrete with stone dust mixed in. A "cultured marble" fireplace is made out of plastic or a fiberglass like material.
But for genuine stone, you need a sculptor or a stone carver. Select a carver who has experience in creating a customizing a range of fireplaces. He will be able to understand what you're looking for and ask the right questions about the effects you desire and how you intend to use the space. A good carver will create a custom design that gives a unique look to your home.
The style of the fireplace can range from Baroque to classical to Tudor to contemporary. The designer will be able to show you a number of possibilities, helping you to narrow down your choices.
A modern geometric fireplace may be just right for you. A smooth stone face with simple designs at the corners and perhaps over the arch as well. This can allow the simplicity of the stone to speak for itself.
Perhaps a rough, unfinished look will be more to your liking. Rustic, dark brown stone can provide a rugged appeal. The sides can be beveled into simple columns without making the piece look over-refined.
But perhaps refinement is what you're looking for. A limestone fireplace with Romanesque capitals, ornately carved, can make a beautiful, classical statement. Classical designs carved along the mantel and an arched opening can complete the effect.
A Greek effect can be achieved as well, making the sides into Doric or Corinthian columns. With elegant vertical lines, or simply smooth, these columns can terminate in ornate flourishes at top and bottom. For an even bolder effect, have statuary carved on either side, with their backs against the columns or replacing the columns entirely.
A simpler Greek effect can be had with intertwining vines and grape leaves. Turn it into a Victorian look with different foliage and some lovebirds added in.
The opening to the firebox doesn't have to be a standard rectangle or rectangle with arch. Give it total flow by making it a semi-circular arch. That leaves plenty of room in the upper corners to put any kind of design you like. Simple geometric designs, flowers, or Gothic gargoyles will each give a quite different and striking effect.
Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions and work closely with the designer. He'll be able to tell you whether your design ideas can be implemented and he'll love the challenge of producing something that looks even better than what you'd envisioned.