Four Steps to Showcasing Your Fireplace
We have officially said our farewells to summer, so for all of the autumn and winter fans amongst us – rejoice! T’is now the season of cooler temperatures, crisp oranges and greens, pine cones and cosy blankets. I can almost hear the twigs snapping under foot and the crackle of the open fire (I am a fan – can you tell?).
If you are lucky enough to have one, a fireplace is one of the biggest enjoyments this season can bring. It can warm up lone evenings, or be a centrepiece for a gathering. It can be big and opulent, or small and cosy. It can be modern and minimalistic or traditional and grand. You can let it do the talking, or adorn it with bookshelves and trinkets.
We have put together some of our favourite, creative ideas on how to showcase and utilise your fireplace in four handy steps, so for those in need of a little inspiration this autumn – look no further.
Step One: Consider What You Want
Which direction you wish to take your space in, and the reasons behind doing so, will determine which type of fire is best suited to you, so you have to ask yourself a few simple questions before you begin on your creative fireplace journey.
Are you after a fire that will warm your coggles, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head? If heat is what you are after, we recommend holding on to your traditional open log fire, or installing a wood burning stove. Both options are fantastic for emitting heat – find out more below.
Or are you less concerned with the amount of heat a fire gives off, and more interested in how it can make a visual impact in your home? If you want your fireplace to have that wow factor, we suggest you look into gas fires, where the options for creativity are endless.
Do you want your fireplace to blend into the background, allowing furniture or other design features within your home to take centre stage? Or do you wish for the fire to be the eye-catching feature within the room?
All very good questions, and all of which need an answer before you can begin.
Got your answers? Good. Let’s move on…
Step Two: Choose a Design
At this stage, we can look into the fire options available to you in a little more detail.
This option is for you if you wish to take a modern and minimalist approach to your space. Gas fires are clean, sleek, low maintenance and easy to use (they can be turned on / off and adjusted via a remote control – you can’t get much easier). Better yet, you can say “adios” to the expense and hassle of storing logs or buying coal. Phew. The artificial flames in this style of fire rise from rock, sand, glass or, if you wish, faux logs (though if you are going gas, I would embrace the modern look and stick with the first three).
My personal favourite style of gas fire is a fire ribbon; a wide but shallow design that, if styled correctly, looks like it has walked straight off of a ‘modern architecture’ magazine cover. This style really can be your centrepiece artwork – keep the surrounding area neutral or white to really make the flames pop. If you have the room, get creative and go beyond the structured boundaries of ready-made fireboxes – oversize them, elongate them, send them vertical or even round (more on that later).
If the ultra-modern and minimalistic look isn’t your cup of tea, but you still want a gas fire, you can warm up the space with the type of cladding you choose. Forego stark whites and deep, solid colours like black, and opt for a softer wood veneer cladding instead.
Wood Burning Stove
If heat is what you are after, a wood-burning stove is the way to go. They surprisingly pump out more heat than a traditional open fire and, most of the time, you shouldn’t need to have your central heating running at the same time (if at all). Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and this rule definitely applies when it comes to heat.
For those of you desperate to have some natural warmth in your home but don’t have a fireplace or existing chimney, have no fear, as a wood burning stoves’ only requirement is that a flue can be installed up to the roof. So put that free standing stove on your Christmas wish list. And the dog in this picture – I’ll take him too.
Traditional, cosy and warming. Three words I adore when it comes to fireplaces. If your home does not already have an existing chimneybreast it can be tricky and expensive to achieve an open fire, but it is not impossible. We will happily look into the options available to you to get your home nice and toasty – just give us a call to arrange a convenient time to check it out.
Yes. You heard me right. A ventless fireplace.
But, how? I will be honest, even with my love of fireplaces, I hadn’t heard of this style until I began my research. Intrigued, I delved a little more into it, certain that I had misread what it was selling – the ability to have a fireplace without a flue. But it is true folks and, provided you intend to install it in a room big enough to provide decent ventilation, you can have it.
Installation is simple and is available in a number of forms; they are low maintenance, easy to use and versatile. Ventless fires run on bio-ethanol fuel which is stored in a small tank beneath the fire, are clean to run and produce a moderate amount of heat.
However, there are some con’s (aren’t there always?). Heat output is limited, so don’t rely on a ventless fire to be your primary source of heat – their most effective use is as a design feature. As with anything, they aren’t exempt from your pollutant risks. Carbon dioxide and small amounts of carbon monoxide are released into the air, exposing users, but with adequate ventilation these shouldn’t pose a threat. Fuel can also be expensive and, depending on the amount of use, burns within a few hours.
This really takes creative fireplaces to a whole other level – literally. If you have the cash to spare, don’t be fooled into believing you have to stick within certain restrictions when it comes to fireplace locations. Hang one from the ceiling in the centre of the room, or mount on a wall, and take your home up a notch.
You will be surprised at how it can clean up a space, making it appear less cluttered, and how the right shape can become a talking point for your guests. Opt for a round see through style similar to the image to really bring your guests together, or use a similar square style to create a natural divide between open plan rooms.
Step Three: Choose a Shape
Let your creative juices flow (or let ours) and don’t be afraid to get playful with the shape of fireplace you choose. Go beyond the boundaries of square or oblong and consider oval, circular, see through or even L shaped. Your existing space will determine what works best, so give us a call and let us do the hard work for you.
Step Four: Customise
You have your beautiful, creative fireplace, so now what do you do with the surrounding area? Do you keep it plain and streamlined, letting the fireplace do the talking, or do you adorn it with those travel keepsakes, family photographs or decorative trinkets?
It may be sad to hear, but we are a generation of television fanatics, so naturally where our beloved TV is placed within a room is going to be a big deal to us. When you add a fireplace to the mix, placement can get tricky – think of them as two strong characters vying for the same audience’s attention.
It is difficult to get the perfect ‘TV above fireplace’ look right, but doing so can bring two strong focal points in the living room together. Or, separate them, but ask yourself which one you want to stand out more for your guests. If the fight between the fireplace and the television screen is too much of a headache, consider hiding the latter. There are multiple options available to you if this is the route you take; use sliding pocket doors, painted slatted doors, decorative panels, mirrors, picture frames…the list is endless.
The depth of a traditional fireplace naturally creates alcoves either side, but the big question is what do you do with them? Do you go down the open shelves route and try to keep clutter to a minimum, or use built in cabinets to hide away the children’s toys, books and DVD’s? Personally, I adore the open niches for storing wood and kindling, but if you have chosen a gas fire you could consider using the space for extra seating instead.
What you will use the space for depends on what you already have to store / display so give it some thought before rushing into anything.
In my opinion, if you are breaking through the ‘traditional fireplace’ etiquette, then go small or go big with a hearth and don’t restrict yourself to the generic, average size.
A large hearth simply yells for attention and, in a large room, can help prevent the fireplace looking disproportionate. Added space on / within the hearth brings a new wave of storage options, such as additional seating, firewood storage or display shelving.
Similarly, a minimised hearth can draw its own kind of attention. You will be restricted by regulations, but the hearth as small as it needs to be and let the focus fall on the fireplace itself. After all, you have spent a long time researching, purchasing and installing the right one, so be proud of it and show it off.
Please be aware that there are building regulations which dictate the minimum size of a hearth extension so please don’t commit yourself to any changes before checking. We have a wealth of knowledge on current regulations in the office, and will be happy to assist you.
How you clad your fireplace – and the surrounding area – will depend greatly on what style you have chosen for the room. A modern and minimalistic room will lend itself to a clean, streamlined solid surface, such as marble, copper or finished steel. Likewise, you can’t go wrong with a stone surround to complement a traditional open fire. During my research I saw a lot of ceramic and glass surrounds – some done well, and some not so well – which opens up endless design options.
The information in this Coffee Break article is intended for guidance only. The authors cannot accept any liability for any loss or damage which may result from the use of this article.