On a cold winter night there's nothing like gathering in front of a fire with family and friends. The warmth from a fireplace on a chilly day and the scent of burning wood adds a cozy ambiance to any size home. Fireplaces make great gathering spots and many families enjoy lounging around the fireplace in the evenings to talk or watch television together.
Almost all new house plans have at least one fireplace incorporated into their design to accommodate homeowners desire for the warmth and glow of a burning fire. This is especially true in the great room, but you'll also find fireplaces in dining rooms, open kitchen spaces, master suites and outdoor living spaces.
Fireplaces provide a comfortable gathering place for family and friends, they provide heat and light and they make a room look beautiful. That is why it is important to have the right fireplace design for your home. Choosing the right fireplace design and product is key to ensuring your fireplace is a positive element rather than an eye sore or underutilized element in your home. Fireplace design ideas vary widely, but no matter what your style, there is a fireplace design for you. When picking out your fireplace, there are many things to consider that will limit your choices. You need to make decisions about both the heating functionality of your fireplace and the overall aesthetic of the fireplace in the room.
First you'll have to decide what type of fireplace is right for you and your family. Will the unit be a source of primary heat or will it be used for decorative purposes? Is ease of use and maintenance a priority? What kind of fuel do you prefer? These questions should help you determine whether you'd like an electric, gas or wood burning fireplace.
There has been a strong trend toward gas fireplaces because they are much more affordable to build than wood-burning fireplaces which require a chimney built of masonry. Pre-fabricated metal units have taken over the marketplace for cost alone. Some leading pre-fabricated fireplace manufacturers are Heatilator®, Heat & Glo®, Lennox Hearth Products® and Quadra-Fire®.
One of the biggest draws towards gas fireplaces is that they provide radiant heat and a hearth flame without the inconvenience of wood. There is wide variety of sizes and aesthetic choices in gas fireplaces and considerably more leeway in terms of venting (inserts, direct-vent and vent-free models) than that offered by wood-burning fireplaces. You'll want to choose a gas fireplace with the highest efficiency rating, called AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Rating).
Electric fireplaces usually come out of the box, so you do not need to choose construction materials or dimensions because the fireplace will come already constructed. They are typically on the smaller side, making them an excellent choice for smaller rooms.
If you are planning to have a wood-burning fireplace then construction materials are of particular importance. Brick fireplace designs are probably the most common choice, because brick does not show smoke stains. Another common material for fireplace design is stone. There are many varieties of stone fireplace such as limestone, marble, slate or ceramic tile. Because of cost, most homeowners are using stone veneer from companies like Eldorado Stone® and Cultured Stone®. Avoid light colors if you plan on using your fireplace often.
If you've already decided on a theme for your room, look for a fireplace with complimentary accents like stone, brick, tile and woodworking. If you choose a mantle, it's a great way to match it to your room's décor. Accent the mantle with decorative touches like mirrors, statues, flowers or artwork to complement your theme.
You may also enjoy this article on gas fireplaces.