Gone are the days of the standard built-in masonry wood-burning fireplaces. Today’s fireplaces offer a tantalizing trifecta of ambiance, customization, and technology. Sleek lines and multi-media options abound, all of which offer homeowners endless ways to add the inviting warmth of a fire into their homes.
The linear fireplace is by far a homeowner favorite and a hot trend right now. Built into the wall, they don’t take up any square footage and they can easily be incorporated into rooms of any size. Linear units can be as small as 36 inches in length to an impressive 10 feet long (varying by manufacturer) with ribbon of flame spanning the entire width. Linear fireplaces come in a myriad of styles including tunnel, stand alone, corner and front facing units as well as space creators, used to separate living spaces while retaining an open feel. These horizontal pieces can be complemented with surround finishes including bronze, black, graphite, stainless steel, and even hammered copper.
Gas inserts are another popular option to convert and modernize existing brick or stone fireplaces without undergoing significant renovation. Though the general size and shape of inserts are fairly standard, there are a multitude of styles from classic to contemporary. A fireplace insert can transform your energy-inefficient, expensive, and high-maintenance wood-burning unit into a beautiful, energy-efficient fireplace that creates instant ambiance and warmth. Something to take note of for inserts is that they have a thicker frame around the outside of the units.
Fire and technology seem like two unlikely bedfellows but today’s models are packed with techy touches. One of the most sought-after is LED lighting, which can be changed to fit décor or to achieve a particular ambiance. With the touch of a button, homeowners can choose from a rainbow of hues.
“Manufacturers have really upped their game in the choices of media,” states Harrell senior designer Sara Jorgensen. “One of our clients chose a unit with LED lighting so they could alter the color to fit their mood. They use the red tone for Valentine’s Day and Christmas and teal to show their support of their favorite hockey team, the San Jose Sharks.”
Once upon a time, brick was the material of choice for fireplaces, especially the back panels. Choices were limited to a simple straight brick pattern or a herringbone design. In addition to the traditional designs, modern fireplaces now offer a black reflective glass that enhances the beauty and luminescence of the flames. The clean, sleek lines of these reflective panels provide a contemporary look that can be a pleasing aesthetic addition.
“I highly recommend going to see the reflective panels in person,” says Sara. “They just sparkle.”
Customized log sets
Another medium that allows fireplace personalization is by choosing a customized log set. R.H. Peterson Company’s Realfyre offers an extensive line of incredibly realistic ceramic log inserts. The hand painted log sets are available in a wide variety of wood types such as woodland oak, western campfire logs, and charred, rugged split oak to name a very few.
For those desiring a more modern look, Realfyre also offers a glass pan burner system that are ideal for island, see-thru, and peninsula fireplaces. Instead of a log set, flames erupt from glass gems or nuggets that cover the base of the firepan. Different shapes, colors, and reflectivity of the glass can be chosen to fit the décor of a space.
Zero Combustible Zone
Another technological advancement is the creation of a zero combustible zone. This transfers heat through other venting areas and away from sensitive electronics. Ortal fireplaces offer cool wall technology, allowing wall-mounted televisions to be placed within inches of the fireplace at optimal viewing level. With televisions being a primary entertainment source for most and the ever-increasing popularity of placing TVs above fireplaces, this eliminates the need to mount your TV at uncomfortable neck-craning levels.
No matter the type of fireplace you choose, it is required by code to have a screen for safety reasons. Depending upon the manufacturer, some screens are visible while others are more of a mesh that is designed to protect but not be seen.
Sara offers this advice to homeowners choosing a fireplace, “I always advise my clients to go see the fireplace in person so they get a real-life view of what it looks like and how visible or “invisible’ the safety screen is. Seeing it online just isn’t the same so it’s worth a trip to a place like California Window and Fireplace in Campbell before we place your order.”
With all of the media, finishes, shapes and sizes, there is a fireplace that fits your personality, décor, and lifestyle. The options are endless so let your imagination run hot!
Sara Jorgensen is a California state Certified Interior Designer (CID) and a Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP) with a BA in Fine Arts in Interior Design. A Harrell designer since 2005, she has the unique ability to discover and artfully execute her clients’ design desires along with their functional needs.
Since 1985, Harrell Remodeling has been designing and remodeling distinctive home all around the Bay Area. A design-build firm with locations in Palo Alto and Los Gatos, we invite you to contact us to find out more about how we work, talk to members of our team, and discover how we can make your remodeling dreams a reality!