TV Interior Design expert Sarah Beeny discusses some of the key benefits of today's high efficiency wood burning stoves and fires, as well as key tips on styling your fireplace.
A working fire or stove can create a wonderful focal point as well as adding that wow factor that can really make your house stand out from the crowd. The good news is that stoves and fires can now be practical as well as beautiful. Get it right and you can also increase your home’s value – and even cut down on your energy bills.
Adding a stove or fire to your home may be a lot easier than you think, but before you do, it’s worth exploring your options as well as knowing where you will need to rely on professional guidance, to make sure you get the fireplace you’ve always wanted.
If you already have an open fire, you may be able to simply fit a stove or ‘built-in’ cassette fire into the chimney opening, which will provide much more heat. These kinds of appliances feature a closed, airtight design, which means airflow to the fire can be better controlled. Controlling the airflow allows for the fuel to be far more efficiently burnt, resulting in up to 80% of the heat going into your room, compared to an open fire which loses around 75% of the heat up the chimney. Not only does a high efficiency stove or fire help your back pocket by reducing your heating bills, it is also much better for the environment.
If using an existing chimney, the best place to start is by talking to an independent retailer. They can arrange a site survey, where a qualified installer will be able to inspect your fireplace opening and chimney, checking for blockages or leaks and whether or not the chimney needs to be lined. Often, if your chimney is in a good state, a simple sweep may be all that’s required. Good retailers will also be able to help you choose your stove or fire and discuss the options available to you.
Just because you don’t have a fireplace, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a fire. There are a great many free-standing appliances that don’t even need a chimney breast for installation. These stoves and fires can simply be vented directly up through the ceiling or, through an external wall using a prefabricated flue system. Pairing your free-standing stove with a beautiful slab hearth can create a contemporary look that also benefits from a much smaller footprint than the typical protruding chimney breast – making this type of installation perfect for smaller rooms. A site survey from a retailer will be able to quickly work out what is needed to install a freestanding stove or fire in your home.
Stoves come in a huge variety of styles, making it easier than ever to find one that is a perfect match for your home. For more traditional decors, there are a range of classically styled stoves in cast iron that are right at home in a period interior. For a twist on the traditional black stove, ivory enamel finishes are great for lightening up a dark fireplace – even when it’s not burning.
For more contemporary interiors, stoves are available in clean, geometric styles in materials such as glass and steel, providing an updated version of this age old concept – and are great for chic, Scandinavian-inspired minimalist surroundings.
Glass-fronted, built-in cassette fires share the same heating efficiency advantages as stoves. These types of fires are set into your wall and look almost framed, like a picture. Inset fires offer an integrated, contemporary look that can provide a striking centrepiece for your living space, and can be had in both portrait and landscape formats in a range of sizes, opening up a host of styling options. There are even double sided versions available, which are great for linking adjacent rooms together that can both enjoy the warmth and focal point a fire provides.
When it comes to the chimney breast and surrounding wall, it’s worth thinking about your styling options. Alcoves to the left and right of the chimney breast are great for books or media storage – for a minimalist look try closed styles that correspond with the room’s colours. Alternatively, for darker or smaller rooms, matching mirrors and tasteful light fittings either side of the fire preserve symmetry and add depth, as well as making the room appear lighter and airier.
There are countless options and considerations when it comes to fireplaces, and many of these will depend on your home and what you want to achieve. But it needn’t be a challenge – fireplaces are both a wonderful and dramatic feature that can literally transform a living space, so make sure you embrace the creative journey and look forward to being cosy and warm on cold winter evenings.