Do you have a fireplace that just doesn't fit the room? Before you make a rash decision and seal it up, consider what it is in the room that is wrong. Does the mantel piece design clash with the room's motif? Does the fireplace mantel need renovating or updating? Earlier fireplaces were the main source of heat during cold winters and large homes had a fireplace in each room. These fireplaces took time to maintain, and created a mess. The fireplace, however, served as a natural focal point, drawing families together, and stood as an important decorative feature. Wealthier homeowners hired tradesmen to build elaborately carved mantels out of wood, stone or marble. Today's homeowners enjoy the practicality of central heat and the drawing power of a cozy fire on a cold winter's night.
Things you should know about fireplace mantels and surrounds
• It's still possible today to buy a vintage salvaged fireplace in nearly any period. This can be restored and used to replace an outdated fireplace which is completely out of step with the period of the home.
• There are many reasons to replace or add to what you have. Your mantel shelf may be too shallow, or non-existent. You may have only a lonely insert. You may abhor the old-style brick surrounds.
• The choices are numerous; hardwood mantelpieces can be simple or carved. It can be painted or stained. It must meet fire safety codes, and use a fire-safe material for the surrounds, like tile, stone, or metal. Stone fireplace mantels can be elegant or rustic, using materials like limestone, travertine, slate, and marble.
• Stone can also be used for the surrounds. Faux stone offers a realistic look of carved stone at a more reasonable price. Metal fireplace mantels also come in vintage reproductions or sleek modern styles.
• Replacing the fireplace surrounds may just be the right thing to freshen up your fireplace. Tile and stone offer many choices, and are more easily replaced than an entire mantel.
When shopping for a fireplace, you have many choices. Most of the old fireplaces seen in people's homes are either fake or totally inefficient. The reason is because they are designed with an open front that completely sucks newly-heated air up and out the chimney rather than radiating the heat back into the house. These fireplaces are often a nuisance and purely decorative at best.
A company specializing in fireplaces claims that there are three fireplaces that can contribute real heat into the home without sucking it away; they come in a variety of styles and a price range to suit your need - EcoSmart Fire, Blomus Pure Life, and Planika. These vent-free, ethanol burning fireplaces have been steadily gaining momentum for their minimal looks, 'clean' burn, and mobile abilities. This type of fireplace burns on denatured ethanol, meaning no utility hookup is required, and no smoke or ashes are left to clean up once the fire is out. Best of all, the fireplace is vent-free, meaning the heat doesn't escape through a chimney; it stays in the room.