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Modern Fireplace Ideas

If you're on the hunt to create that perfect focal point which will become the major feature in your living room, this guide is designed to offer advice on current fireplace trends which will add style and functionality to your home. With a amazing range of fireplace designs available, the options available for your to create a truly unique fireplace are endless and we have listed our top tips that will help in choosing the most up-to-date fireplaces

Going Green1. Going green - With rising home energy prices and a increased focus on conserving the environment, many home owners are looking at ways to become more efficient in their everyday lives. Many home appliances are becoming more efficient and fires & fireplaces are now being manufactured which use less gas or electricity without compromising on looks or performance.

Whilst creating a gas fire that replicates a real coal fire used to be the most important goal, more emphasis is now being given to reducing running costs. High efficiency glass fronted gas fires are now far out-selling open-fronted models as they lose far less heat up the chimney and normally offer improved heat output. Electric fireplaces are now available with energy efficient LED flame effects that use a fraction of the electricity compared to a standard bulb and will never need replacing.

Fireplace Finishes2. Choose the right material
- There is a huge range of materials available for your new fireplace. These include natural stone, cast-iron, wood, or marble. Whilst natural marble is still popular, micro-grain marble has overtook sales due to it's consistency and the vast range of shades available. Natural marble is formed over millions of years and is characterised by its polished, shiny finish and features natural veining and fossils - every piece of natural marble is different and this can often be a concern for some people. Micro-marble is natural marble reformed to overcome the inconsistency and quirks of natural marble. There is a large choice of finishes in the micro-grain marble range with the neutral cream and beige shades being the most popular.

Wooden fire surrounds will always be in fashion and the variety of finishes is also increasing. Lighter timber such as beech and maple look great when combined with darker interiors and hearth such as black granite. Modern additions to fireplace finishes now include walnut and stained oak which work especially well with lighter marble. The main issue when choosing a wooden fireplace is ensuring it will fit in with other wooden furniture in your room. Adding a matching mirror to a wood fireplace surround is a great way to create a imposing feature.

Natural stone such as limestone is a material that is well suited to both classical or contemporary interiors. Featuring unique veining and fossils which sets it apart from man-made products, stone fireplaces are normally neutral shades which fit into any colour scheme and offered in a variety of designs. Limestone is a smooth matt, chalky finish and the most popular stone currently available for fireplace suites. The natural shade, marks and blemishes will vary from each piece whilst quite porous in its natural state, there are sealants available which can be applied once fully dried out to prevent any spillages staining the surface.

Cast Iron FireplacesTraditionally fitted to bedrooms in older properties, cast-iron fireplaces are now available in a range of sizes that include models that work well in living rooms. Finished in the classic matt black finish as standard, many cast fireplaces also have the option of a highlighted or full polish finish. With the highlighted option, the raised sections are buffed to produce a pewter finish. On full polished models the whole fireplace is buffed which results in the fireplace being suited to both classical or modern interior design schemes.

3. Floor or wall mounted?
- The traditional fireplace consists of a fire surround, back panel or inglenook and a floor mounted hearth. The mantel shelf is a perfect area to display ornaments and the hearth protrudes into the room (normally at least 380mm). Interior design fashions change and modern homes are now preferring a sleeker look with the fireplace raised up on the wall. This style also works well in smaller room as subject to the fireplace being fitted to manufacturers instructions, a hearth is not normally needed saving valuable space when at a premium.

hole-in-the-wall fireplace

Remote Control4. Controls
- If you're tired of getting on your hands & needs to light your existing fire, take a look at the latest gas & electric fires that give you total control from a lever mounted at the top side of he appliance. There is even a range of fires on the market that give you control from the comfort of your favourite armchair with a hand-held remote control. The slide control option requires you to hold the lever down for a few seconds to ignite the fire then lifting the lever up or down controls the flame height. Remote control offers the same flexibility and are usually battery operated to connection to mains electricity is not normally required.

Fireplace Lighting5. Feature Lighting
- A fairly recent addition to fireplace design, ambient down-lights add extra ambience, especially when the fire is not in use. They act to accentuate the fireplace and really stand out when the main room lights are not in use creating a stunning visual impact. Mostly offered on wooden fire surrounds, there is now a selection of marble fireplaces which are available with this feature. Changing the bulbs is no different to changing the bulb on a halogen spotlight and most fireplaces with this option are supplied with the lights already fitted and require a electric socket located nearby for power. Both Be Modern and Elgin & Hall fireplaces offered with a down-light option feature the very latest 'Smartsense' technology that switch the lights on/off by waving your hand underneath the mantel shelf.

6. Gas, Electric or Wood Burning
- Choosing the right fire to go with your new fireplace is very important. A number of factors need to be taken into consideration to determine what type of fire will best suit your needs. Nothing beats the convenience of a gas fire for instant heat and ambience. Turn a control knob or press a button and the fire bursts into life. The styles and finishes of gas fires guarantee that there is a model to suit all tastes and requirements. Inset gas fires are designed to create the look of a real, open fire. Basket gas fires are designed to be set inside the fireplace opening and offer are more traditional look and hole-in-the-wall gas fireplaces create a modern feature which work well in contemporary homes.

Electric fires have moved on so much since the era of the two-bar room heaters. The latest electric fires feature ultra-realistic flame effects that are almost indistinguishable from a real fire. Dimplex's 'Opti-Myst' effect for example incorporates a water tank that produces a vapour mist that when combined with special lighting boasts a smoke effect which often tricks customers who visit our showroom who are adamant that it must be a real fire! Electric fires have the added benefit of having a flame effect which can be used independently from the heater function meaning they can be used throughout the year as a ambient feature.

The popularity of wood burning appliances has exceeded everyone's expectations. Coming home to a real fire is a fantastic feeling - immense heating performance, the smell and energy saving capabilities. Not all homes have the facility to have a real, open fire but there is now several models of wood burning stoves that have been passed allowing you to burn wood even if you live in a smokeless area. If you are considering a wood burning stove or open fire, you need to consider whether you have the facility to store fuel as running a wood burning or multi-fuel appliance takes more time and planning.

7. Combining entertainment with your fireplace
Fireplace below TVA popular method of mounting a flat screen television is raised up on the wall. This not only looks appealing but offers an excellent way to save space in your room. The downside is the television can often end up competing with the fireplace as the central feature. A common question we are asked is 'can I mount a TV above my fireplace?' There are a small number of gas fireplaces which are suitable for this such as the open-fronted Gazco Studio gas fires and the Verine Atina and Verine Vertex models (subject to being fitted to manufacturers instructions). These models are designed more for effect only and give out a minimal heat output which ensure that the heat will not affect the TV above. A lager number of electric fires are suitable for fitting below a TV as modern appliances expel the heat from the bottom or sides. If you are considering purchasing a new fireplace with the idea of fitting it below your television, please contact us for further advice.

8. Get creative with colour
- If you are wanting to create a striking visual impact, why not move away from the standard black, silver or brass finishes normally associated with fireplaces? Modern manufacturing techniques have resulted in the option of choosing a vast array of colours on several models that are sure to provide your home with a amazing feature. Bronze, champagne and metallic red are just some of the finishes available on both gas & electric fireplaces from manufacturers such as Verine and Gazco.

Gazco Gas Fires

Fireplace Fuel Effects9. Get funky with fuel effects
- When your fireplace is not in use, standard imitation coal can look dreary so why not brighten up this area with one of the many fuel effect now being offered on both gas and electric fires. Logs, Pebbles, White Stones, Glass Beads and Driftwood are some of the effects now available and ensure that your fireplace will look equally stunning whether on or off!

On lighter fuel effects such as pebbles, carbon deposits will show up more. These are caused by the combustion process and will be less apparent on darker fuel effects such as coal or logs. Gas fire fuel effects are made from a special fibre that can withstand the heat. On electric fires, real coal or pebbles are often used. Whatever fuel effect you decide on a gas fire, you will need to replace over time (normally several years) as they will deteriorate with normal use.