Something primal draws us to fireplaces. It might be conditioning from all those Christmas movies we watched growing up, or it may be evolutionary residue from our stone age days, if you believe that kind of thing. Either way, we all love fire, and fireplaces. So if you don’t have one in your house yet, winter is the perfect excuse to get one. And while your fireplace will easily become the centrepiece of your home, you can accompany it with other decorative trends. Here are some ideas you might want to incorporate.
Modern fireplace styling
The traditional hearth is a brick cavern coated with soot and vaguely smelling of smoke. It’s accessorised with pokers and bellows, lit by driftwood or carefully chopped logs, and probably takes a few minutes to light once you become familiar with the process – which some people never do. Before then, lighting a log fire can be a long drawn out session of coughing, sputtering, a potentially burning your house down.
Contemporary fireplaces eliminate all that agony with their one-touch, instant ignition, gas powered units. They offer all the comfort and none of the pain points. An even more popular trend is to select a biofuel furnace. They’re powered by ethanol, which is a greener fuel source than wood. Bio-ethanol furnaces are usually smaller, with futuristic space-pod designs well suited to the minimalist 21st century home.
They don’t generally have viewing panels, so the naked flame burns in recessed cavern or cocoon to keep the breeze from blowing it off. They also don’t give off much heat, so they are more decorative than practical. You probably need an additional heating unit to actually keep the house warm, even though your ethanol furnace looks gorgeous.
Comfy floor rugs
Those Christmas log cabin movies always had some kind of elaborate animal skin next to the hearth, and for some reason, it never caught fire, which is strange, considering how much of fire hazard it was to have fur that close to live flames. Still, perhaps because of our conditioning, the bear skin or tiger skin rug remains a mental fixture of fireplace decor. That said, fur is no longer politically correct unless it’s suede.
A more progressive option is to use faux fur, such as artificial sheepskin. It offers the psychological comfort of a hearth rug but preserves environmental sensibilities. It’s also less of a fire tease than real fur, since artificial animal skin is often treated with flame retardant. If you pair your rug with a gas fireplace that hides the flames behind a glass panel, it becomes even safer. And these days, wood fires can have glass panelling too. Pair the rug with comfy cushions and poufs upholstered in knit and velvet.
For something less traditional, use a gas-powered burner built into a countertop or outdoor stone table. You can carve seats around it, made of wood or natural stone. Concrete is an option, but it’s harsh to sit on and gets uncomfortable in extreme heat or cold. Of course your flames will have to be somewhat sheltered, so you can choose a position behind a wind-break, or encase the fire in glass.
Indoors, the burner can be left bare and unprotected because there’s no breeze. This isn’t ideal in a setting with children and pets, but can be sheikh for sophisticated singles. Line either side of your fireplace with ornaments in gold and glass, building your own inanimate terrarium. Incorporate scented candles in modern candle-holders designed using glass frames and classic metal, from glossy chrome to tastefully aged bronze.
Dinner by the fire
Instead of the stereotypical sofa, divan, or recliner, consider placing an old-school dining table in front of the fire. It can be a soothing setting for a family gathering or a romantic meal. Ensure the table is far enough not to catch any sparks and embers, or better yet, that your furnace is a modern gas-burning unit. The dining area works especially well if your heater has a cooktop. It elevates your ‘kitchen table’ to a whole new level.
The design idea works best if the dining set is a vintage unit, so even if your gas fireplace is modern and up to date, you could pick something with a more traditional appearance despite its hi-tech features. It could have a potbelly stove structure even if it’s operated by remote. Or it could have an artificial mantel to mimic a traditional brick hearth and chimney.