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Which Stone Colour is Best for Your Fireplace Surround?

By 02/08/2012December 24th, 202029 Comments

This is the biggest mistake homeowners make when choosing stone colour for their fireplace. Take my advice, because if you choose wrong, it will dictate the overall colour scheme of your home forever. 

The stacked stone trend for fireplaces and the exterior of homes is a big one. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for every home.

I have even been in a home where the builder used stacked stone like an accent wall in the entry which was connected to the bi-level stairs. Can you imagine how much that would hurt if you banged into it or your child fell down the stairs and right into the jagged stone wall? Ouch!

Your stone fireplace surround should relate to your house style.

You must truly consider the style of your home before you suddenly inject a trendy stone like this because there’s nothing neutral about any of the colours. They are so bossy, they will dictate the overall colour scheme of your house forever!

Which Stone Colour is Best for Your Fireplace Surround?

So here are my top three choices for the colour of stones around your fireplace (I have also mixed in a few I would not recommend and listed the reasons why):

1. Warm Green Grey Stone

This stone fireplace below has warm (green) grey undertones mixed with some yellow/caramel tones. Notice that this cottage is filled with white walls, which is the detail that relates the best to the black and white furnishings in the room. Also, the ceiling has an unfinished, distressed look to it that also relates to the fireplace stone colour.

House Beautiful

If you have recently discovered my blog and you want to start understanding undertones, start noticing what really works about each space you look at. Take this stone and insert it into a bald and boring, tract house and it will stop looking so charming and just start bossing you around (maybe).

>> Need help choosing a stone colour for your fireplace?

House Beautiful

Notice this fireplace, also from House Beautiful. It has the same tones as the first one with the addition of some blue greys. Again, this look is countrified!  There is lots of rough looking wood that works with a textural fireplace like this.

See the butterscotch tones in this stone fireplace above? You can see that the colour of the walls here relate to it.

And in the outdoor dining pavilion they chose caramel leather for the dining chairs because they relate beautifully to the stone.

House Beautiful

I would not recommend the above stone unless you love caramel. Because this space will always be dictated by that colour. I just wanted to show you how it looks when you are not ignoring the colours in the decor.

>> Don’t install a new fireplace without reading this first.

Most people have switched their preferences from these earthy tones to fresher, cooler colours anyway.

2. Neutral Stone with cooler white, cream, green, grey, and blue undertones

See this neutral white/cream/green/grey and blue stone? It would be my first choice because I think it’s the most neutral. It also looks so much more classic than ledge stone. The overall read is kind of two-tone, which means you could paint the walls a fresh colour and it would not appear as if you were ignoring the fireplace.

Style at Home

3. Simple Cream Stone

Here’s a simple cream stone. Keep in mind, if you are into the cooler trend and trying to go away from the earth/brown trend, this might be too creamy. But at least it’s way less bossy than all the other murky, dark, pinky, orange stacked stone you will discard as you make your decision on which one is the best for you.


So did you get that? If I was consulting with you on your stone, you would have three choices and that’s it. The rest are just plain ugly and bossy in my opinion, so before you pick one, consider how it will relate to your colour scheme. Maybe you’ll change your mind?

Ski Chalet or cottage anyone? That’s pretty much where you should keep it. To find the prettiest images I could, this environment is where they looked the best. Of course there are exceptions to these guidelines but really I would sit this trend out.

Related posts:

How to choose Colour around a Stone Fireplace

Hiring a Designer; Luxury or Necessity

3 Ways to Write a Design Blog People will Read

It’s All in the Undertones, download my eBook here. (if you have a computer you can download my book).

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • I just recently spec’d colors for an interior of a home with 2 stacked stone fireplaces – one in the living room and one in the master. Oh, and a wall of the same stone in the butler’s pantry! The stone certainly dictated the paint colors that would work in those rooms, which in turn affected all the colors throughout the main floor, which obviously had to relate to create flow. Thanks for the timely post!

  • Sarah says:

    Great post and so true. I will definitely be keeping the undertones of the stone in mind when choosing. Thanks!

  • Laura Casey says:

    I think grey surround is the way to go,

  • I really think the only place for these stone accents is in a ski chalet, a cottage or a rustic vineyard home (think Provence). Otherwise it’s way too heavy in my eye.

  • Susan says:

    Stone fireplace surrounds have been happening for quite a while here in Texas! Are running into a bit of a problem when people want to introduce gray, but had the same problem with white brick, etc. when everything was warm tones!

  • Cherie says:

    I agree that the colors in stone are bossy, but is that so bad if you like the stone? Stone is beautiful, it comes from the earth, and it is timeless. It lasts forever, and will always be available, sometimes right from a person’s own land, or region. True, it may not be as popular a selection at one time as at another. However, the choices in stone, as you pointed out, are multiple. Different stones have undertones of gray, blue, caramel, brown or cream. If you choose the stone you like, those undertones will suit you and your decor. And why shouldn’t a tract house have a little stone if the owners like stone and want to make their home distinctive above the others? Our custom built home on wooded land has a floor to ceiling stacked stone fireplace with light gold undertones which I have carried through the entire house in one way or another. When people walk into our foyer and see the fireplace across the living room, they say, “How beautiful!” Trends come and go, but items like stone, or wood, or marble, and even granite, these are gifts from the earth to be used and loved.

    • Linda says:

      What you say it so true – trends come and go, but things like beautiful hardwoods and natural stone will always be in style.

      Thank you for your very practical and true post.

  • Karena says:

    I also love the cream / gray stone. Gorgeous examples Maria!


    Art by Karena

  • hildi says:

    I just did our fireplace with a granite hearth & glass tile surround. Beautiful! In the evening the tile sparkles & glistens with the light bouncing off. Great ambiance.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Cherie,
    Of course it’s not bad if you love it and it works for your house. My advice is for the reader who doesn’t realize how bossy it is so that they can make an informed decision.
    Thanks for your comment.

  • Julie Terrell says:

    I have bout your large undertone paint samples and I am painting my kitchen/dining Rm the Pashmina. My question is: I have a huge ceiling to floor limestone fireplace between the 2 rooms which is painted. What do I do with it? should I continue and paint it the Pashmina also? I want it to blend in and in the kitchen area I have a huge glass cabinet which will cover most of it. On the fireplace side (in the dining rm) I plan to put a 40w x 60L piece of art it.

  • Brooke says:

    Love this post! I live in a fieldstone house, and the stone was brought inside to create a floor-to-ceiling fireplace with undertones (I think! Correct me if I’m wrong, Maria) like the fireplace in the first picture. While it did dictate our colour choices when it came time to paint, Maria helped us pick a colour that made it look elegant rather than hokey. Décor seems to really be like clothes and makeup–the best bet is to work with what you have, rather than follow the trends. I think stone needs other natural materials like wood to balance it out, so I can see how it would look out of place in a “tract” house. Now I want a fireplace like in the third-to-last picture!

  • jan V says:

    You found beautiful examples-almost makes me want stone “again”. We have a late 60’s house which was built with an overpowering 12 foot floor to ceiling, 15 (at least) foot wide fireplace-those large flat face irregular stones of the 60’s . Though I see lots of them in great midcentury homes, the only color that ever worked for me was caramel walls and I felt bossed around. Also it clashed with my taste for cleaner, simpler deco inspired lines. So, we wall-boarded over it. If we ever sell, any potential buyers who LOVE stone can just uncover it. You never know who will just love all that stone!

  • malia says:

    Hi Maria,
    My house has TWO brick fireplaces that are very dark red and very bossy. I am always debating painting them, but I never seem to get up enough nerve. I would really appreciate any advice you could give me about colors to paint brick.
    Thanks for

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    This post for me is so timely–not that we’re picking stone–we live in a mountain, resort, rustic-elegant,
    community where stone is everywhere. But co-ordinating furniture with it isn’t always easy either.
    The first picture gave me a push towards using black/white furnishings. It really looked sharp! Our stone is a combo of the first & second pics and a bit more orangey ones. We have white, aged beams,
    and greeny-taupe walls. Hope I’m on the right track…

  • Kelly says:

    I have a very large fireplace wall in my home. Before I learned about undertones from you Maria, I knew something was off in room but could not figure it out. Now that I can see the undertones in the stone and I am now working ‘with’ it for my wall color, it will look like a million dollars! xo

  • Debbi in Texas says:

    stone is very hard to see in pieces; just like brick. It looks totally different when a massive surface is covered. Unless the brick/stone happens to be all the same color tone. I prefer light warm colors, as opposed to pale cool grays, that another person can interpret and repaint walls their color if we should move but that make me happy now

  • Lyndon Dupuis says:

    This is by no means a new idea, but one worth re-thinking: white wash your stone fireplace if you want to soften its impact! NOT white paint, but whiteWASH! It makes a world of difference. Google to get specific instructions.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Julie,
    Without seeing your space it sounds right to paint it the same colour. If you go darker than Pasmina you are into something like Rockport Gray and it might be too heavy and it still needs to relate to what’s happening in the space so better to stay more neutral I think.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Thanks for that suggestion, I will have to research that, there are some old bossy fireplaces around.

  • Hi Maria! I’m in the middle of a whole house design, and the stone of the new fireplace is pinky beige with gold tones and purples mixed in. Sounds bad, looks lovely. I am so grateful the homeowner used purple-toned brown wood floors, pinky beige carpet and starter-paint throughout. Everything flows to begin with. How horrid it must be to have all those tones wrong from the get go! My tasted leans toward the warm gray/green one — I am a HUGE stone lover, always have been.

  • Kathi says:

    We built a transitional house 20 years ago and we have 4 fireplaces, I used fieldstone in our 2 story living room,round river rock in our kitchen, brick in our family room and marble in our master bedroom,I have to say I still love all of them and have no regrets at all,surprisingly they seem pretty neutral and go with all of my updated paint colors!

  • I love the one with the white/cream/green/gray and blue stones! I’m glad to have found this post because my husband and i are in the middle of planning our own house. I’m definitely taking note of this.

  • Candace says:

    I would love to see some ideas for refacing/revamping 70s brick fireplaces. You know, those HUGE monstrous fireplaces in the same brick of the house. In our house the fireplace is 11 feet tall and 7 1/2 feet wide. That’s a LOT of stone, marble, or whatever. It will definitely be the boss in the room. The BIG boss.

  • Linda says:

    Maria, your last two posts couldn’t be more relevant to a neighbours, newly renovated home, which is a salute to mid-century. The addition construction is fine, and I was anticipating the exterior, finishing choices. First, the stone went on, and I thought; hmmm interesting. It could be really good IF they choose the right colour for the siding installed above the stone. Well, they did it. They chose that certain brown that really dates the house. All that money spent on the reno that took months, ruined by the choice of paint (in my opinion). It makes my stomach hurt every time I drive by and shout (windows closed) WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

  • Cindi Anderson says:

    I’m curious, 5 years later are these still the stone choices you like?

  • Kim Wheeler says:

    Hello! I’d love to know what you think of painted brick or German schmear for fireplaces? Would white painted/treated masonry read traditional enough?

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