Q: These days I'm building smaller and smarter with an emphasis on innovative design. Fireplaces are an upgrade that most new-home buyers expect, but standard applications can be pretty boring. How can I make them more integral to my plans and show-stopping in their appeal? 

A: A traditional, single-sided fireplace carved into an exterior wall creates intimacy butwill often compromise usable living space, views, or natural light. A versatile alternative is the double-sided hearth, which is both luxurious and functional. This handsome feature can be used to delineate interior spaces in an open plan, to connect indoor and outdoor entertainment zones, or to liven up even the smallest outdoor retreat.