“Hearth and Home” is a phrase that conjures up the essence of why we love fireplaces so much. Just thinking about sitting in front of a fireplace evokes warm feelings of comfort and family. A fireplace serves as a gathering point in the home when the weather is cold and snowy or rainy and raw. It is also considered a sought-after feature that adds to a home’s value, and adding a fireplace has never been easier – or more energy-efficient. Let’s look at some of the ways you can add a touch of old fashioned coziness with a dash of 21st century style and technology.

Photo: adding a fireplace to a patio - outdoor living fire pit by MBRG

Fire pit by MBRG

Fuel sources.  You may think that there’s nothing like a crackling wood fire for ambiance. But older wood stoves and fireplaces made before 1990 burn wood inefficiently which wastes firewood, compromises your indoor air quality and creates dust in your home.  They also suck the warm air out and send it up the chimney. Today’s wood stoves and fireplace inserts that are certified by the EPA are smarter choices. They can reduce smoke and dust, as well as cut heating expenses.

Gas stoves and gas fireplace inserts, whether using natural gas or propane, burn very cleanly, and are a popular low-maintenance alternative to wood. They can easily be turned on or off instantly and they produce natural color flames — not the blue flames old models had in the past.

Electric and ethanol fireplaces are the newest addition to the mix. They burn so cleanly they don’t need a vent, flue or chimney. That means you can put one in almost any room of your home. You get the warm glow of fireplace flames with none of the ash or soot.

Think outside the box when considering where to put a fireplace. Use the fireplace as a room divider, open on both sides to 2 rooms. This is a popular option in a master bedroom and bathroom configuration. If you select an electric fireplace, you can put it almost anywhere: on a table-top, suspended from the ceiling, flat against a wall (like a painting) or even portable enough to go from room to room.

shower-and-fireplace-kohler1

Master bath with fireplace. Photo courtesy Kohler Co.

Pick Your Style. It doesn’t have to be a traditional brick hearth with a wood mantel for holding family mementos. You can go clean, modern and sleek with a stainless steel, slate or glass mosaic tile surround. For a natural, rustic look, stone looks great and inspires a muted palette of grays for the room. Leaving off the mantel allows you to add soaring height to the room with a floor-to-ceiling surround.

Placement. In the past, you had limited choices for fireplace placement. Today they can be wall-mounted in any room and at any height. Imagine dining by firelight with the glow of the flames at eye level for all your guests to enjoy. If you have an open floor plan or a great room, the fireplace can even be in the center of the room, a focal point for your decor.

Photo: adding a fireplace to a screened porch

Fireplace on screened porch by MBRG

Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits bring the great outdoors right to your backyard, and extend the time your family can spend outside even when it’s chilly. Adding a fireplace is possible even on a patio or a screened porch, blurring the line between the indoors and the outdoors. And wouldn’t it be fun to snuggle up around a stone or brick fire pit on a clear winter night, making s’mores or toasting marshmallows? Just step out the back door and it can all be yours to enjoy!

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