If you are a connoisseur of both aesthetics and sustainability, your choice of a fireplace reflects not just a desire for warmth and style, but also a commitment to environmental consciousness. From the traditional charm of wood-burning fireplaces to the modern appeal of gas, and the innovative allure of electric alternatives, each option offers unique opportunities for sustainable and stylish living. Let's explore how you can integrate these elements into your home with a focus on safety, sustainability, and sophistication.

Eclectic Coastal Living Room Fireplace

The Harmony of Non-Combustible Materials and Eco-Friendly Design

The Hearth and the Surround

These are two areas that require non-combustible materials and adhere to the National Fire Code. The amount of space around your fireplace that must be constructed of non-combustible material will vary depending on whether you have a wood burning or gas burning fireplace.

  • Typically the requirement is a minimum of 10” above and 8” on the sides for the surround when you have a wood burning stove. Surround your fireplace with materials like tiles made of earth-friendly materials like ceramic, (I LOVE a Zellige tile for this) or encaustic cement tiles or locally-sourced natural stone, ensuring safety while also considering your environmental footprint. 
  • Gas fireplaces are a nod to modern design and offer cleaner burning options. Their safety and design considerations allow for environmental mindfulness:
  •  Gas burning fireplaces tend to throw much more heat above the opening, and I’ve had too many clients find out after the fact that they should EITHER raised the the height of their mantel or the depth or even mad sure the mantel was made of non-combustible materials to avoid surface getting too hot to touch and potentially causing damage to their television installed above the fireplace or worse. Ask your contractor to confirm the requirements when you decide you want a gas burning fireplace. Or, if you’re not the homeowner who had it installed, contact the manufacturer.

The Mantel

You have many options for your mantel. Do you like a more modem look? Or, do you prefer something more traditional? Or something in between? If you’re not sure what your coastal style is, take our quiz.

A coastal modern or transitional look: If you want a more modern look may have no mantel, but have a stone surround with enough depth to create a shelf above your opening. Or, you can choose a sleek natural stone and create a clean lined mantel that has a transitional style that frames the stone as shown in a progress photos from our Noyac Path project below.

Transitional Mantel Design

A traditional style: If you prefer something more traditional, you’ll want a mantel shelf and legs and may even consider an over mantel to finish of the look. This can be made of wood and stained or painted, or you can find choose stone. Like the mantel at our Dune Road project.

A coastal farmhouse style: You can opt for a mantel shelf made from reclaimed wood if your conditions allow or sustainable composite materials such as Lightweight Cast Stone that offer both beauty and eco-consciousness, and it’s non-combustible. Pair it with shiplap to add a coastal touch.

The Innovative Electric Fireplace

Mantel and over mantel

The Innovative Electric Fireplace

I’m writing about the electric fireplace option separately because depending on what you choose, you may not require any materials such as stone or tile or something non-combustible. Electric fireplaces present a highly sustainable and versatile option, ideal for your eco-friendly lifestyle:

  • Energy-Efficient Elegance: Electric fireplaces offer the beauty of a traditional fireplace without emissions, making them an environmentally conscious choice. 
  • Versatile and Sustainable Styles: With electric fireplaces, you have the freedom to explore various sustainable design materials that align with your aesthetic, from repurposed wood mantels to recycled metal frameworks.

Electric Fireplace in the primary bedroom of the 2023 Hampton Designer Showhouse

Designing with Your Conscious Aesthetic in Mind

Your home is your sanctuary and a reflection of your values. Here are ways to ensure your fireplace aligns with your sustainable and elegant style:

  • Mindful Material Selection: Choose from eco-friendly materials that resonate with your commitment to the environment. Each option should guarantee safety and add a unique, sustainable element to your space.
  • Custom Designs: Personalize your fireplace with a custom mantel or unique surround that speaks to your eco-conscious and sophisticated taste.
  • Consulting with Eco-Design Experts: Partner with a designer who specializes in eco-friendly interiors. Their expertise can help you navigate the balance between aesthetic appeal, safety regulations, and environmental responsibility.


Your fireplace can be a warm focal point in your home that aligns with your principles of sustainability and your coastal style. By carefully selecting your fireplace type and accompanying materials, you create a space that is not only safe and beautiful but also reflects your coastal conscious lifestyle. Let your fireplace be a symbol of your dedication to both refined living and the well-being of our planet.

March 05, 2024 — Shannon Willey