A wood-burning fire in the hearth has long been a signifier of warmth, comfort and happiness. More than just a source of heat, a fireplace is a natural focal point within a room, so it's imperative to ensure that yours fully represents your personal aesthetic. Whether you choose an elegant marble centrepiece or rustic red-brick hearth, this guide to presentation, positioning and maintenance provides a comprehensive overview of owning a fireplace.
Fireplace styles range from the highly contemporary to the deeply historic. In penthouse apartments or modern minimalist homes, a fireplace in a creamy marble or sleek glass frame can add to the clean and simple aesthetic. Conversely, rough-hewn stone or brick fireplaces will never look incongruous in a rural cottage setting or country manor house.
When implemented with a designer's eye, concrete can be a complementary choice in both contemporary and period homes. A rectangular concrete hearth serves as an artistic statement in a converted warehouse or loft, but can also work effectively against the wooden beams and historic ironwork of a period property.
The palette framing the fireplace will have a significant effect on its overall visual impact. Install an opulent charcoal marble fireplace against a backdrop of white walls for a chic chiaroscuro effect. Alternatively, employ bell pepper shades of terracotta red, buttery yellow or warm orange brickwork to give your flagstone hearth's surroundings a Mediterranean quality.
Interior designers have recognised the potential for fireplaces to function as statement features in unorthodox areas of the home. Several high-end properties have incorporated fireplaces anywhere from the parlour to the patio, while modern innovations mean that chimneys are no longer confined to the side of the room by logistics. Architects around the globe have found ways to place stunning stand-alone structures in the centre of a large open-plan area, with floor-to-ceiling glass keeping the atmosphere fresh and airy.
Corner fires provide both an interesting visual feature and an effective way of increasing warmth in a room from different directions. Built out from the wall, these structures leave the fireplace partly open on both sides, spreading heat at each angle.
Only burn high-quality seasoned timber in your fireplace. This is wood that has been dried for around 6-12 months under a cover, and now contains less than 20 percent moisture. Dry, split wood burns more efficiently than green wood, leaving behind far less sooty residue. Obtaining a reading from a wood moisture metre is the simplest way to tell if your wood is sufficiently dry.
Arrange to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep at least once a year, ideally in late spring. This will ensure that there are no blockages and that everything is running smoothly, ready to warm your house once more when autumn comes.
To invest in a luxury home with a built-in hearth, contact Engel & Völkers online or in-store. With expert agents based in four continents, whether you're looking for a mountain chalet or an urban penthouse, we're always ideally positioned to assist.