Even today, many people consider choosing the right fireplace to be a luxurious addition to their home and an option that enhances the cosiness and general ambience of their home.
However, there are houses in which this seemingly decorative wood burner has the crucial function of making the place warmer and giving it that long-awaited homely atmosphere in a practical and inexpensive way.
Fireplaces should therefore be both beautiful and functional so that investing in one is actually a sound idea.
Image source: Knudson Interiors
But how can you choose the right fireplace for your home without spending too much? Let’s share some strategies that will get the best results:
The basic question: wood, electricity or gas?
Image source: Shirley Meisels
The design and style of your fireplace depends entirely on the type of fuel you want to burn. So, tackle the question before you even think about installing a fireplace.
For example, burning wood is an option only for the characteristics of the chimney, just like the traditional gas fires and stoves. However, you need to make sure that the fireplace has been cleaned and checked for suitability and safety.
Image source: Sigmar
Most modern homes are built without chimneys, but that doesn’t completely rule out your ability to install one. You may not be able to burn wood, but gas is not an issue with a balanced and professional fuel system.
Even wood can be considered with double wall pipes or a similar outlet or stove that you can afford at a reasonable price.
Nice versus functional
Image source: Acucraft fireplaces
The second major dilemma is whether to go for a beautiful and decorative fireplace that will add depth to your space, or lean towards function to choose something that can actually warm you up and still look aesthetically pleasing. Depending on which country you live in, we recommend that you give preference to the function and choose an energy efficient part that is suitable for both purposes.
Next challenge: Looks
Image source: Slifer designs
There is no single fireplace, as everyone has different preferences and needs.
Some of us would go for modern, chic glass beads and clean, geometric shapes to contrast the logs, while others would keep the natural setting and install a fireplace with brass and dark accents to recreate the fireplace theme.
Here are some of the most common accessories to consider when installing a fireplace (note that some of these are purely decorative while others are practical too):
- A mantelpiece: mantels are not originally intended to be attached to chimneys, but they can easily be prefabricated to suit the setting.
- Accessories: Even if most fireplaces are decorated in a similar way, you do not have to follow the concept and can always deviate from the usual frames, wood paneling, louvers and doors.
For example, you can choose a specific and rare material like stainless steel or make an unexpected color choice.
The accentuation should be left for the last phase, however, as it has a purely decorative function for which it makes no sense to sacrifice the basic functionality.
- Firebrick liners: Firebrick liners are often installed on fireplaces, mostly with classic metal and matte black interiors, with the main purpose of making the fireplace look more beautiful.
Many people believe they have a longevity function too, but that’s just because it’s harder to spot damage on darker surfaces than on lighter ones.
- Blowers: Unlike the linings mentioned above, blowers have an important purpose. Once the fireplace is up and running, fans will distribute the heated air around the room and distribute the heat in a suitable manner.
However, blowers require electricity to function. That is why you should install the fireplace closer to a plug.
One important thing to consider here is that blowers make a noise, even if nothing compared to vacuum cleaners and similar devices.
- Remote control: Most modern fireplaces can be operated remotely. Even if the best way is still to use controls on the fireplace or to adjust them manually.
Some fireplace controls are only used for switching on and off, while others have specially developed touchscreens and complex programs for thermostat control.
Image source: Studio Marcelo Brito
The good thing about them is that they can be found with all kinds of materials and finishes, placed on the wall or in the corner, or absolutely unique and suitable for a particular type of fireplace.
Rather than buying a pre-built one, we recommend building one on site once you have a clear idea of what your fireplace will look like.
Image source: Oivanki Photography
What are your options?
Image source: Jeff Wilkinson, RA
- An open fireplace: Open fireplaces require a fireplace-based open recess that is positioned and surrounded based on your choice. The classic choice in this category are the so-called inglenooks fireplaces.
- Holes in the wall: This is the classic type of fireplace that doesn’t require expensive mantels or decorative settings. All you have to do is prepare the place and install the gravel / ceramic fire basket which will hold the fuel or logs.
- The all-in-one solution: These solutions are available for any style or design element that you want to implement, be it a simple fire basket or mantelpiece. Stoves are usually not included.
- Hobs: Hobs are a Georgian and Victorian heritage, a common name for charcoal burners in cast iron hobs that can also be used for cooking. They are perfect for traditional and rustic environments.
- Register grids: They were first introduced at the beginning of 1850 as combinations of fire backs (back plates), grids, movable fuel plates to adjust the draft and inner frame.
Image source: Charles Cunniffe Architects Aspen
Choosing the right material: stone, wood, metal or no material at all?
Image source: Jasmine McClelland Design
Let’s look at wood first – this is the perfect material for country-style environments where a wooden setting is required to soften modern and ornate designs.
Still, wood is no less popular in modern settings, where fireplaces are usually made of oak and mahogany or a similar dark shade that is currently on trend.
Holes in the wall: The timeless, still insanely popular fireplace solution owes a large part of its popularity to the simple and very realizable design, as it houses all sources of fire and creates a relaxed focal point without investing in additional materials.
Stone: Stone fireplaces are widely viewed as traditional setting solutions, which doesn’t stop them from being used in modern and luxurious homes as well.
They too date from the Georgian and Victorian periods, but have been remodeled several times to adapt them to clean, modern and minimalist rooms.
Metal: Metal fireplaces were very popular in the Edwardian and Victorian times, which is why they are still a classic, timeless choice today.
They are now made of cast iron and stainless steel and are ideally enriched with brushed and polished surfaces.
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Image source: Sater Design Collection, Inc.
Ventilation methods are often neglected when installing a fireplace, even if they are probably the most important.
People fear that ventilation pipes will ruin the look of their fireplace, especially with fuel fireplaces where the vent needs to be placed as close to the fireplace as possible.
The first choice to avoid is what is known as “dual fuel” when adding the vented gas log set to wood fires.
Image source: Mary Prince Photography
They produce the realest and warmest of flames, but you should know that they have their gas guzzling moments. You have to keep the doors open all the time, which means you will spend more money on maintaining it and you will likely only have to use the fireplace on certain occasions.
The second, not so inexpensive solution is the well-known Natural Vent (B Vent) method, which involves specifying an area surrounded by wood and burning the materials inside.
Obviously, such fireplaces cannot be remotely controlled to burn less wood, which can make them very expensive.
Some of them also require you to keep the doors open to allow the heat to spread rather than senselessly leaving the room through the chimney.