We are being asked about changing fireplaces nearly weekly lately. It must be something in the air- or maybe just that turn of season that’s making people think about that coziest of features- their fireplace. Sometimes the cause for the question is that, flat out, the fireplace doesn’t work- it smokes, it leaks, it won’t light, or it won’t stay lit. Other times, there’s an aesthetic issue- you just don’t like the size, shape, or look of the fireplace or it’s surround. So, to begin with, there’s two main parts to the fireplace- the firebox and the surround. The firebox is the business part of the fireplace, that’s where the flame and smoke is. The surround is the (hopefully) beautiful part around the firebox, which would include the mantle and overmantle (if you have one). The fireboxes come in 2 main flavors-masonry and manufactured. Personally, a full masonry firebox, beautifully done, can’t be beat. But, if you don’t already have one, they are fairly expensive and difficult to add later. The manufactured variety comes in all kinds of styles-some can be woodburning, some gas logs only. Any of these can be changed, but the change may entail changes to the flues and chimneys as well. Changing the surround is typically messy, but not so difficult. The benefit is that, since the fireplace is usually the centerpiece for the room it’s in, changing the look of the fireplace can totally change the feel of that room- and maybe the spaces around it too!