1 fireplace, 3 ways

31 May 2016

Fireplaces were lost in the decorative wilderness for a while as we struggled with efficiency, fuel types and visual appeal.

Closed wood burners and mock electric fires had a particular look that didn’t always suit our style, but with today’s huge range of great looking gas fires, we’re spoilt for choice.

They come in a range of efficiencies, sizes and styles – and because they don’t have to have a mantle or hearth, there’s enormous scope for how we present them. They can be set discretely to one side, or given the full treatment.

Fireplaces and surrounding walls are also the perfect place to have a bit of decorative fun.

Choosing a fireplace

While it looks good, crackles pleasingly and feels cosy, the traditional open fireplace is on its way out due to new restrictions that relate to pollution concerns. Open fireplaces are notoriously inefficient anyway.

You can now buy highly efficient ‘clean-air approved’ versions that comply with new regulations and produce up to five times the heat of the old- style fire with minimal energy wastage. These wood fires have glass fronts and heat control devices, they’re fuel efficient and safe, and although there are still ashes to contend with, clean-up is minimal.

Also wood is a carbon-neutral and sustainable form of fuel and a relatively cheap form of home heating – especially if you have your own supply. Strict rules apply around wood burners in terms of installation. Different councils have different regulations so it pays to check those out.

Wetback systems can be installed to heat water. This can be effective when the fire is in constant use but it does mean that less heat is put out by the fire. Heat transfer systems are also popular now but you need to be sure that your fire is powerful enough to produce enough heat for this to work.

It’s a gas

Flued gas heating is also popular. It’s clean, can be very economical, and can be run off piped natural gas or gas cylinders.

Gas fireplaces come with or without a glass door and each option works differently. When gas fires are open fronted with a conventional flue, the same low efficiency problem occurs as it does with open wood fires. Glass-fronted gas fires don’t lose heat so are particularly efficient and ideal for cooler areas. The flue doesn’t need to go straight up so locating them is more flexible.

A gas fireplace can be included in a smart house plan or have their own mobile app and be turned on before you get home.

Get the look

In terms of the look, there’s a lot of choice, from traditional squarer formats to long sleek models with pebble fire beds and individual flame jets.

Dramatic see-through units can be placed between two rooms. Long and low is popular, often with a marble or concrete hearth. With gas models, you can simply install them into the wall, skipping the hearth altogether. In small spaces this makes good sense.

The other big trend is ‘frameless’ fireplaces because this lets the interior designer or homeowner create a feature wall with their choice of wall coverings and colours that bring out the simple beauty of the fire itself.

Some homeowners like to position a television above the fireplace, which is possible with some gas, ethanol and electric fires, and in a limited way with wood fires. You can create an entire feature wall that includes the television, storage and sound system and the fireplace. There is also a trend to separate the television and fireplace experience, and create a media-free spot for family conversation around the fireplace.

Most fireplaces come with a choice of fire beds, like logs or pebbles, and a choice of fascia surrounds to suit your particular decor, for example plain black or chrome.

If you want a traditional surround, demolition yards and online auctions are definitely the places to look. If you can’t find a genuine antique, there are a number of companies offering very realistic copies, complete with period-style tiles.

And if you just love the look of a fireplace but don’t actually need it as a means of heating – if your house has a heat-pump for example - there are attractive fireplace units that have the glow of the genuine article, usually with a very low-level electric heater. Some can produce up to 2kW of heat which might be sufficient in a smallish space.


Here are three new looks for one fireplace, created by Resene colour expert Nikki Morris.

illustrations Malcolm White

Do you have a home full of wonderful Resene paint and colour? Send us some snaps by emailing editor Sharon Newey on [email protected].

None

Go all dark and broody with the lodge-inspired look. Walls in Resene Half Bokara Grey are offset by a rustic-looking chimney breast clad in pine timber boards that are then stained in Resene Colorwood Walnut. A low-slung shelf, or seat, is also made of pine and stained. The ceiling is painted in Resene Sea Fog, the soft white tones of which are echoed in the wall planters.

None

A crisp look with an unusual sculpted wall panel by My Wall Art beautifully highlights this fireplace setting. The main walls are in Resene Duck Egg Blue while the Cullinans design panels are painted in Resene Alabaster, along with the ceiling and trims. Add a simple contemporary side table and lamp, and an unusual frameless fireplace, for a pared back but striking look. 

None

You don’t need a solid masonry wall or plaster render to get the sort of timeless look you see here. This textured look is achieved with Resene Sandtex – a textured paint that comes in two grades (Standard and Superfine and which has been tinted to Resene Quarter Evolution, an aged dusky olive. The other walls and ceiling are painted in Resene Black White, while the floating shelves are painted in Resene Quarter Black White and accessorised with books and ornaments. 

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Resene Alabaster

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Resene Black White

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Resene Duck Egg Blue

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Resene Half Bokara Grey

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Resene Quarter Black White

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Resene Quarter Evolution

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the look

If you're stuck on what
colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.

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Resene Alabaster

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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Resene Black White

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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Resene Duck Egg Blue

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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Square square colour information icon
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Resene Half Bokara Grey

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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Square square colour information icon
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Resene Quarter Black White

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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Resene Quarter Evolution

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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Create your own mood boards of your favourite colours, photographs and information from habitat by resene.

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×

the look

If you're stuck on what
colour to use or need colour
advice, try out the Resene
Ask a Colour Expert service.