Behind the Scenes: Fireplace Transformation in a Contemporary Bayfront Home

When my clients purchased a sweet (but dated) bayfront property in Newport Beach, one of the first points of discussion was this eyesore of a fireplace.

Before: Who wants all this heavy stone (and it’s fake!) in a bayfront home? Not me. Peg Berens Interior Design Photography.

It was covered floor to ceiling with a pinkish-peach tumbled stone with thick, dark mortar. The “stone” wasn’t even real, but a manufactured product. Now, I don’t have any issues with manmade stones as many of them are absolutely gorgeous and I specify them frequently, but THIS manmade stone looked fake.

  • What are the design reasons, you ask, why this fireplace doesn’t work? The underlying rose tone in the stone doesn’t coordinate with the other materials in the home (see the orange-ish ceiling beams?).
  • For a relatively small space, having the stone carry over on to the adjacent walls just doesn’t make sense. It makes the whole fireplace dominant in the overall room (the dominant element
  • should be the bay view), plus there isn’t a clean way to have a good transition of the stone to the wood ceiling beams.
  • The gas log set is very rustic and doesn’t go with the architecture of the home (plus who needs a huge rustic wood fireplace on the bay?).
  • It is very unattractive (did I say that politely enough??).

After: A beautiful, yet subtle, fireplace adds warmth and interest to the space without overwhelming it. Jeri Koegel Photography.


Design is all about function,form, scale and appropriateness. Every element in the home, from the door hardware to the baseboards to the decorative lighting to the furniture, should be selected with these elements in mind. Each item should have the same “feel”, proportion to the overall space, coordination of style and lines to the other elements in the home. This is why when you walk in certain spaces, they just “feel” right and everything seems to flow together.

You can see what a transformation this fireplace took. After removing all the dated faux-stone, we clad the face of the fireplace and the hearth apron in a beautiful creamy-taupe colored porcelain tile from Ann Sacks that features a subtle, but intriguing, wave pattern. This tile works in this space as it is clean lined and has a subtle linear form that is repeated elsewhere in the home.

The tile coordinates well with the grayish-taupe wall color as well as the hardwood flooring and wood ceiling. The hearth top is the same Calacatta Pearl quartzite (a natural stone!) that was used in the kitchen for continuity. We painted the back of the firebox opening with a black fire-proof paint and painted the support beam that couldn’t be removed black as well to have it “disappear”.

The cherry on top is the linear flame burner hidden amidst glass chunks in various shades of black, silver and bronze. This fireplace is a beauty even when not lit. I’ll be sharing other design details from this project in future blogs. I’d love to hear your comments below or contact me at to discuss how we may work together in the future.

Interiors. Redesigned.

XO – Peg


Design: Peg Berens Interior Design
Builder: Burkhart Bros. Construction