The sunset has shifted, the air has a crispness so fresh it can be tasted, and the chill creeps slowly into everything from your house to your bones. Halloween has passed, Thanksgiving is planned, and the temperatures seem to be finally settling down in true New England fashion. From year to year, these things never change – but perhaps they make you think of adding another, certain warming tradition. After all, this is the season of woodsmoke and flashing embers, magical sparks and dusky flames. There’s nothing like coming home to start a roaring fire, or spending the weekend nestled in front of one with your favorite book and a cup of tea. If those autumn winds have you considering this cozy home addition, all you need are a few hints and tips to start planning the change that could make your entire fall and winter brighter.
As with any home design choice, your needs and desires direct every element – with fireplaces, this is even more prominent with practicality and safety. Is your hope to add a certain ambiance and aesthetic, or to heat a room? What kinds of windows and insulation are already in the space? How high are the ceilings? Do you worry about pets and small children, or want to avoid extensive fire clean up? From the delicious classic wood burning fireplace to the sleekly modern electric, the flexible-use gas model to the ever-evolving ethanol, the variety is vast enough that there is definitely one to suit your precise needs.
After choosing a type of fireplace, the next step is the most fun – choosing a style of fireplace. Do you want to contrast or complement the existing style of the space? Stand out or blend in? Make a statement or focus on function? While clean lines, simple shapes, and modern tones may be most currently on trend, there’s a reason the classics are always in fashion. However, if the traditional spin isn’t what your space wants, the selection abounds: wall mounted, double sided, free standing, corner unit, suspended, even suspended and rotating. No matter what you find most appealing, there’s no way to leave even an inch of the room cold or without exciting possibilities.
The design and choices don’t simply end with the fireplace itself, nor even with the mantel and frontispiece. With fireplaces come not only the enjoyment of tradition and ritual, warmth and welcome, making and memories, but the chance for constant change. From year to year, season to season, the accessories of a fireplace can become the most enjoyable part, allowing your style to change whenever you like. Often called the “jewelry” of the fireplace, fire accessories have been a form of luxury and art for centuries, an important part both visually and functionally. Fabulous statement piece antique andirons, a shining copper ash bucket, cast-iron fireplace grates, amazing flame-resistant fiberglass hearth rugs, and gorgeous oiled leather bellows are simply the beginning.
Pleasure aside, the addition of a fireplace can do wonders for your home, environmentally and financially. A fireplace is often one of the swing elements in a potential homeowner’s choosing process – and if future resale value isn’t of interest, it can impact your current financial state as well and immediately. According to the AARP, a well-insulated home and beautifully built fireplace can be heated equally for either $900 of fuel oil, or $200 for one cord of firewood.
From pure comfort to monetary gain, the reasons to want a fireplace are as endless as the kinds of fireplaces you might want. Be it living room or bedroom, kitchen or dining area, they have been a stunning part of homes for most of history – with excellent taste and brilliant design, they’ll will continue to do so in the best of homes for a long, long time to come.