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Alternatives Fireplaces That Aren’t a Standard Open Hearth

Keep your home warm and cosy with these different types of fireplace

Houzz UK Editorial Staff. I’m a freelance journalist with more than 13 years’ experience… More

The classic open fireplace with a grate and chimney isn’t the only way to get some cosy warmth in your room. Check out these alternative fireplace ideas, which include bio-ethanol fires, wood burners and masonry heaters, to find some inspiration for your own home.

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Go for gas
If you don’t fancy the hassle and mess of lighting logs, you might prefer an alternative fuel fireplace, such as gas. If you’re worried a gas fire won’t have the same aesthetic appeal as a traditional log fire, hunt around as there are some beautiful designs on the market.

Gas fires are easy to use, as you can turn the flames on and off quickly and efficiently whenever you like. You also won’t have soot and smoke particles travelling up your chimney, and won’t have to clean ash out of the bottom on a regular basis.

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Ease up with electric
Electric fireplaces have come a long way since the old-fashioned models with horizontal bars running along the front. You can now find ones that perfectly replicate a traditional wood burner or log fire, or go for a more modern design like the one here. They work by pulling in cool air, which is then heated by a coil inside and gently released with a fan.

One of the benefits of an electric fire is that you can easily regulate the heat with push-button controls. There’s no need for a chimney, so the installation is quick and easy.

For more warming advice, check out our expert guide to underfloor heating

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Keep it clean
If you want warmth that’s both hassle-free and ecofriendly, bio-ethanol fires are the way to go. They’re fuelled completely by bio-ethanol and, as such, burn cleanly with no smoke or odour. You won’t even need a chimney for one of these fireplaces, so they’re straightforward to install.

Worried they won’t give out enough heat? Many manufacturers claim they give off the same amount of heat as an electric fire, and because there’s no chimney all the heat comes into the room without escaping.

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Look to logs
A log-burning stove is a classic option and can either be placed in an existing fireplace, or elsewhere in the home. The position of the stove here is ideal for when the owners want to cosy up while looking out of the window in the winter.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of a wood burner, do some thorough research. Choose a modern stove that burns wood cleanly, and purchase logs from a sustainable source.

Discover some of our favourite country cottage fireplaces

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Radiate the heat
For a really efficient alternative fireplace, you could go for a masonry heater. These work by storing the heat produced by a fire, so that it can continue to warm the room hours after the fire has extinguished. The flue is made of a material that absorbs heat and releases it gently as a radiant heat into the room – this one is made of soapstone, which is a really good choice for retaining the heat.

A masonry fire is less polluting, as by burning the wood rapidly it produces a much cleaner fuel than it would if you burnt it slowly. The cost of one of these heaters can be quite high, but it might be worth the investment in the long run.

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Take small measures
Got nowhere to put the logs for your wood burner? Try a pellet stove instead. Rather than a stack of cumbersome logs, you’ll need just a few sacks of pellets. These small pieces of material are usually wood and often made from shavings and sawdust, which would have probably been thrown into landfill.

The beauty of a pellet stove is also that it can be programmed to refill itself and turn itself on, and modern versions can be connected to the thermostat. The one here is part of a wet radiator circuit and lights itself, as long as it’s kept topped up with pellets.

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Hang it loose
If you’re looking for an alternative fireplace that makes a real design statement in a room, consider a hanging fire. The iconic Gyrofocus model here, which first came out in 1968, was the first suspended, 360-degree pivoting fireplace. It consists of an open hearth inside a steel construction. Since it came out, there have been various other designs from Focus, the company that produced it, and other firms – some with an open fire, and others with a glass door.

The long flue is suspended from the ceiling, which means it can be positioned anywhere in the room. It’s a great option for an open-plan space where you’d like to create a cosy seating area around the fire.

Which of these different types of fireplace do you think you’ll go for? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
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