This is the 'before' photo.  The clients had an old metal woodstove that needed to be replaced.  They like the stonework on the wall and didn't want it removed.  They also did not want to have to move the flue location.  It was important to them that the new masonry heater not be taller than the stone 'mantel' on the wall.  Equally important, they did not want the heater occupying any more space than what was reserved for this old stove.  Limits like these impose harsh design restrictions, but that's where I started! As is my practice in custom work, I created a CAD drawing of a proposed design to meet all the criteria and still to function as an efficient masonry heater.  This original design proposed a primarily soapstone heater with black granite benches and stucco bench supports.  Granite 'baseboard', corner inlays, and accent elements accompany the soapstone.  The inset 'cupola' on top adds just a little visual interest to break up the potential boxiness of the design. This photo was taken shortly after construction was completed and the heater had been fired a few times.  The finished design eliminated stucco in favor of more soapstone.  And rather than absolute black granite, this granite has golden brown speckles.  The glossy granite and matte-finish soapstone go together well. This is a completely custom soapstone masonry heater.  Every piece of soapstone and granite was meticulously cut and shaped specifically for this project.  The inside (inner life) construction is shown in exquisite detail in my book, Masonry Heaters: Designing, Building, and Living with a Piece of the Sun. The new masonry heater is like an additional piece of furniture in the room.  Though it takes up no more floor space than the original metal stove, the heater adds a more comfortable warmth as well as additional seating to this cozy living area. The clients noted that, with the old metal wood stove, guests would sit and be drowsy in the overbearing heat blasting from the metal stove.  With the masonry heater, they report that guests are much more comfortable and lively and the air not so stuffy.  The challenging limits of this project were met with gentle radiant heat.