The wife wants me to change our fireplace from stone to contemporary. I was thinking of using Vermiculite Fire Resistant Board with a metal fire trim. Also, knocking the stones forming the arch out to give the opening more height. I assume there's a lintel above the arch somewhere, probably further back, and the front of the fireplace does not support the chimney. I would be very grateful for any advice - we've tried to get a local builder without much success. I do some DIY but the wife will get kittens if I start knocking things down (even a few stones in a non suppporting arch) without proper advice.
I should have said that after taking out the arch bricks I'm going to cover the stones with the board which will go upto and under the wooden mantel. I'm only taking out the arch bricks, not the whole fireplace.
I would advise not to start taking out stones from your fireplace unless you truly know what you are doing. What could happen if you are not careful is that the whole brest could drop slightly and cause a crack from floor to roof in your chimney and that is a problem then. My advice is to get a builder that knows what he is doing and has experience with chimneys to do the job. Do not do it yourself.