Decorate

10 fireplace designs that will give your home a warm, inviting glow

Our guide to perfecting your fireplace.

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.

Contemporary minimal fireplace
A ‘barely there’ fireplace keeps this contemporary living area warm. (Credit: Photography: Jacqui Turk | Styling: Alanna Smit)

What are the rules for fireplaces in Australia?

When planning to install a fireplace, 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.

Types of fireplaces

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.

Modern country home fireplace
Enjoy the great outdoors without the chill. This living room has bushland views on three sides while the cosy fireplace keeps things toasy and warm. (Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson | Styling: Belle Hemming Bright)

Fireplace fuel types

Here’s how to find the right heat source for your space…

Wood fireplaces

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.

Gas fireplaces

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.

Gas fireplace with stone surround
A Heat & Glo gas fireplace surrounded by sandstone in a cottage in Avalon. (Credit: Photography: Brigid Arnott | Styling: Lisa Hilton)

Fireplace design ideas

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.

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.

Inspiring fireplace design ideas

1. Coastal style stone fireplace

“I love to have a glass of wine in front of the fireplace after the kids have gone to bed,” says Michelle, who revamped this 80’s era ‘ugly duckling’ home on the Gold Coast, alongside husband James.

Today it’s a bright and airy home with soaring high ceilings and uninterrupted coastal views. The fireplace is a Jetmaster enveloped in Random Free Form Stone in Thredbo White from Neo Rox Concepts. The print is from Boho Art & Styling.

Coastal style stone fireplace
(Credit: Photography: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

2. Sleek and contemporary marble fireplace

‘Simple yet sophisticated’ was the design brief for the refresh of this Victorian home in Mosman. In the living room, the fireplace was kept minimal, with a sleek ‘Concordia’ honed marble surround which gives the fireplace a grand, yet understated appeal.

A plush navy ‘Agra’ rug in Juniper from Armadillo adds to the room’s undeniably cosy vibe.

Sleek minimalist marble fireplace
(Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread)

3. Freestanding fireplace on a concrete ledge

Large windows and sliding doors give this bushland home an unrivalled sense of connection to the great outdoors. Homeowner Lucinda’s says her favorite thing about the home is “Watching the change is seasons but being warm inside.” They have a Nectre woodburning fireplace to thank for that, as it keeps the sunken living room and adjacent spaces toasty and warm.

Nectre fireplace with concrete ledge and firewood storage
(Credit: Photography: Marnie Hawson)

4. Statement stone fireplace

Every day feels like a holiday at this newly built family home on the Gold Coast. The fireplace was a major splurge, as the owners searched far and wide for the perfect stone which was eventually treated with ageing techniques to create a weathered look.

The overall effect was well worth the cost, as it forms the focal point of the open plan living room, dining room and kitchen. “It would have been a lot cheaper to purchase pre-fabricated cladding [for the fireplace], but the hand-cut natural stone gave it the feel I was after,” says homeowner Bec.

Stone fireplace Gold Coast coastal home
(Credit: Photography: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

5. Ultra modern fireplace

The modern extension of this circa 1900s cottage in Melbourne’s north-east connects the home’s indoor and outdoor zones. The bluestone that surrounds the fireplace has also been used for the home’s back terrace and pool surround. 

‘Bowen’ artwork by Katie Wyatt.

Modern grey fireplace
(Credit: Photography: Armelle Habib | Photography Assistant: Sara Wilkosz | Styling: Julia Green | Styling Assistant: Jade Lee Martin)

6. Contemporary-meets-heritage fireplace

The heat from this Real Flame ‘Heatseeker’ fireplace emanates through this entire home on Sydney’s Lower North Shore. Atlantic Stone from SNB Stone surrounds the fireplace, while a built-in arched bookshelf references the home’s heritage detailing and arched windows and doors.

Marble fireplace next to curved book shelf
(Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Jamee Deaves)

7. Dark and moody fireplace

During the renovation of this cottage in the NSW Southern Highlands, the owners converted the double garage into a spacious living room. Now, the woodburning fireplace is the central feature, and cosy layered rugs and a deep blue colour scheme create a coccooning effect.

Dark and moody living room with open fireplace
(Credit: Photography: Abbie Melle | Styling: Lisa Burden)

8. Tiled fireplace surround with wood storage

This seaside weekender on Sydney’s Northern Beaches offers rest and relaxation all year round. “The fireplace is in use in colder months. It makes the house feel so cosy,” says homeowner Nancy.

Tiled fireplace surround
(Credit: Photography: Sue Stubbs | Styling: Samantha Torrisi)

9. A place for family to gather

Heather, co-founder of Oak and Orange, says her family regularly gathers around the fireplace to play charades or celebrity heads. “We don’t have a TV in this area and, when people come over, it’s where everyone sits,” she adds.

The fireplace is a Universal Insert 1500mm Jetmaster and is surrounded by ‘Lodge’ cladding from Artisan Stone. “We picked that stone because it most resembled the Palm Springs modernist style,” says Heather. 

Cosy living room with stone fireplace
(Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Rachel Peters)

10. Create a cosy moment

If space allows, create a cosy armchair moment directly in front of the fireplace. In this revamped Leura cottage, a weathered timber console keeps drinks close to hand, while creating distinct zones for chatting by the fire and curling up on the lounge with a good book. The fireplace is clad in Crazy Paving sandstone from Eco Outdoors.

Leura cottage fireplace with crazy paving surround
(Credit: Photography: Helen Ward)

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