The alluring glow of a flickering flame conjures a sense of comfort and romance. When the temperature drops, there’s nothing better than gathering around a fire to warm the body and soul, and it is particularly coveted for the wonderful atmosphere it creates. “The ever-changing flame is simply captivating, and wood-burning fireplaces also produce a fantastic aroma and crackle to delight the senses,” says Guillaume Roux of heating specialists Oblica. We’ve rustled up everything you need to know when it comes to selecting and styling a cosy fireplace this winter.
Fireplace regulations 101
When planning to install a fireplace, either inside or outside, do your homework – regulations vary depending on the state you live in. “Councils usually require approval for the type of fireplace added to a new or existing home, and rules impact where it can be installed,” says Joel Belnick of fireplace experts Jetmaster. “The type of flue used, potential impact to neighbours, proximity to high-rise buildings and safety features are all taken into account.” It’s also important to use a qualified builder, roof plumber and gas fitter to ensure safe installation.
With so many factors to consider – whether to go open or closed, in-built or freestanding, gas or wood, traditional or modern – you’re not short of choice. Refine the selection process by deciding where the fireplace will be located. “The size of the area to be heated can often influence which type of fireplace is most suitable,” says Joel. “Radiant-style, open fireplaces are great for outdoor entertaining, as they quickly heat the area in front of the fire. To heat larger indoor spaces, a convection heat fireplace may be more effective.” One indicator of heat delivery is the kilowatt output rating. “One kilowatt heats an area of 3 metres x 3 metres, but it’s often a case of the larger the heater, the larger the output,” says Rick Wignell of Wignells Heating & Cooking.
When it comes to design, take inspiration from your home’s architecture and landscape. Cast-iron heaters evoke a rustic feel which works either indoors or outdoors. “Or, for a convenient and modern look, a gas log fire will enhance your outdoor entertaining area with a flick of a switch,” says Rick Wignell. In-built units and wall-mounted fireplaces are a fantastic space-saving option and, teamed with a decorative mantel, floating shelf or niche, can be a beautiful design feature. In contemporary homes and areas with floor-to-ceiling glass where you want to make a statement, a sculptural suspended unit like the ‘Gyrofocus’ or ‘Slimfocus’ from Oblica is just the ticket. A double-sided fireplace in an open-plan layout is a fabulous option. “They’re a striking design feature which cleverly zones living and dining areas and adds a sense of luxury,” says Guillaume Roux of Oblica.
Find the right heat source for your space…
Gas: Easy and convenient, with a variety of styles to choose from. The beauty of gas is the ability to turn it on with the flick of a switch or a tap on your smartphone. “It can require more servicing, though, as gas components can break and need replacing,” says Joel Belnick of Jetmaster.
Wood: It takes effort to source and split, but wood gives an authentic fire experience with high heat output. “You can also choose between an open or slow combustion (closed) fireplace,” says Guillaume Roux of Oblica. “Slow combustion units offer more control and efficiency, yet raw open fires provide great sound and smell, and are ideal for toasting marshmallows.”
Ethanol: “Good looking and simple to use, a key advantage is easy installation, as no flueing or gas supply is required,” says Rick Wignell of Wignells Heating & Cooking.
Electric: “Primarily decorative, an electric flame doesn’t produce direct heat, yet it can evoke the realism of a wood fire without the need for a flue,” says Joel.
Shopping for a fireplace? Take a look at our top picks, below.
Left – Cocoon Fires ‘Aeris’ stainless-steel ethanol fireplace, $4190/600mm x 380mm, Top 3 By Design.
Right – Morso ‘Kamino’ cast-iron fireplace, $2750/1800mm x 500mm x 500mm, Wignells Heating & Cooking.
Left – ‘Big O’ powder-coated steel firewood storage unit in Black, $1200/950mm, Oblica.
Right – Cheminées Philippe ‘Radiante 846 2V’ double-sided cast-iron slow combustion fireplace, $6850/1375mm x 842mm, Wignells Heating & Cooking.