There are three things that you need to know about hearth design function.
1.) Fireplace hearth
Starting with “what is the hearth constructed of”? It can be made out of brick, stone, granite, or marble. All of these are good choices if they are complimentary to your décor. Over the years, I have seen way too many beautiful slabs of granite chipped and damaged when they had a run-in with a vacuum cleaner! If your hearth slab is sitting on the floor, and constructed of granite or marble, I would recommend spending the extra money to have any exposed edges rounded off.
2.) Height of the Hearth
The height of the hearth can make a big difference in comfort. I prefer to design fireplace hearths to be high enough off the floor, while still providing a comfortable depth for seating. At this time, you may also want to consider what type of seating pillows that you may want to decorate with.
3.) Hearth Accessories
Glass doors, fireplace screens, wood-racks, fireplace tools and bellows! This is where function and design should go hand in hand so that you and your family will enjoy the fireplace for many years to come.
Think about purchasing a good quality log grate, as it can last a lifetime!
A metal Ash Bucket with a fitted lid and shovel are great tools to have accessible for removing those ashes from the fireplace and carrying them out of the house.
It’s also a good idea to consider the length of the fireplace tool handle. Personally, I would rather use the shorter or medium length tools rather than fumbling with the longer handles. Also, when making your tool selection, think about how you will be displaying or mounting these tools.
While speaking of hearth tools, I appreciate a good fireplace bellow for rekindling the fire or just getting a draft going up the chimney.
Whether to buy glass doors for your fireplace will also be a consideration. The look of an open fireplace with just a screen is my favorite, but the big draw back with that is you cannot close your damper until the next morning, after having a fire the night before. Higher end glass doors starting at over $200.00 is something I feel is a good investment. The higher quality of the interior metal framing won’t rake or twist and the glass is, in most cases, replaceable. The finish will not fade or tarnish, unlike the less expensive glass doors.
Finally, a few words on wood storage racks.
They need to be big enough to hold a reasonable load of firewood. I love the wood racks that come with a removable leather liner, so I can fetch the wood, and just set the liner back into the log rack frame.