There cannot be many people who don't like the idea of curling up on the sofa in front of a blazing fire. The flickering of flames as wood is burnt, their dancing and ever-changing colors and the comforting heat they bring hark back to the dawn of humankind when fire and its life-changing discovery dramatically altered the way people lived.
It's not hard to understand why a fireplace in the home should be a focal point. Whatever the source of fuel, it's a connection with our atavistic instincts.
Managing a fireplace
Before looking at design features around a fireplace, it's important to get the fireplace and its burning qualities right from the start. Wood and coal fires need clean chimneys to avoid the possibility of soot being set alight - chimney fires happen and can be extremely dangerous.
For wood fires the type of wood to burn is important too. Some woods, such as hornbeam and ash, burn very well with great flames, and oak also burns well producing intense heat rather than vibrant flames. There are woods to avoid, such as pine (burns fast and leaves deposits in the chimney) and willow (spits). All wood should be dry, meaning it should have been seasoned for at least one year.
Designing around a fireplace
A stone fireplace can easily provide a wonderful feature in a room, becoming its focal point and instantly drawing the eye. Striking a balance between that and other decorative aspects of the room can be challenging, but it's perfectly possible to create a synergy between the fireplace and other features of the room.
Some decorating tips
A Rumford fireplace is tall and shallow so more heat is reflected, which is a bonus. It will provide a really elegant touch in a living space. Whether or not a fireplace protrudes, a little creativity aimed at the adjacent spaces, furniture and window coverings can make a stunning style statement.
If the fireplace has a mantel then group some decorative elements on it - candleholders and figurines work well - and hang a mirror or picture above it. Eyes will be drawn to the fire of course, but will then move to the strategically placed decorations.
Consider the light that comes into the room and how it is oriented in terms of the compass. For rooms with plenty of light think about using wooden window shutters to complement the room's ambience. Stylish and attractive, they work well with stone fireplaces and can let in as much or as little light as required, thanks to adjustable louvers.
Colors on the fireplace wall need to complement the fireplace color. As that wall will be the focus, it's ideal to replicate that color with other items in the room, such as throws, lamp bases and curtains.
A sofa or armchairs that also reflect the color palette placed as close as is safe to the fire, will add an additional touch of comfort and coziness.
Note about author: Ms Wilson is a budding freelance designer with a passion for transforming interiors. She enjoys experimenting with big patterns and statement pieces to create a truly unique space.
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