A fireplace doesn’t just bring an element of romance to winter evenings. With a little planning, it can become a stand-out feature in your home. Here are the dos and don’ts.
Modernise. Although your old-fashioned fireplace might look quaint, Andrew Balding of Premier Fires warns that it’s simply not efficient – about 80% of the heat is lost up the chimney. If you love the look, simply choose a closed-system fireplace with a traditional appearance – you’ll find it far more economical.
Size does count. You need a fireplace that is big enough to heat up the required area efficiently, but that doesn’t dominate the space or get lost in your décor.
Accessorise. Balding suggests adding volume to the space around your free-standing fireplace by dressing it with accessories like log buckets, a fire screen and toolsets. If you have a built-in fireplace, create a border with natural or ceramic tiles (check that they are non-combustible first). This will make it stand out, creating a frame so that it doesn’t get lost on large wall areas. During summer months, when the fireplace isn’t in use, placing a vase of flowers inside the fireplace cavity will stop it from becoming dead space.
Keep an eye on symmetry. Nadia Coetzee of Home Fires says that symmetry is one of the most crucial elements when planning a fireplace. She adds that it’s best to keep the look simple, although adding extras like a rough wooden mantelpiece, enhanced with vases, statues or candles, can add a touch of rustic charm.
Stay safe. Make sure there are no combustible materials around the fire, and that there is sufficient distance from soft furnishings (like curtains) to prevent fires caused by heat transfer. Balding says all fireplaces should stand on a correctly sized non-combustible floor-plate that extends at least 30cm from the door.