Friday, October 23, 2009

The Beauty of Brick Fireplace Designs

It is difficult to replace the feeling of warmth you get from a fireplace on a dark and drizzly chilly day. Along with the warmth, the scent of the burning wood adds a cozy ambiance to a home that can spark memories of Christmas past or just a shared cup of hot chocolate. The majority of these wonderful feelings are enjoyed in front of traditional fireplaces faced with brick. Brick fireplace designs have been utilized in home construction since the mid 1600s and are still a favorite even today. One reason being that even as the brick ages and takes a beating through the years, it does so without losing its original charm and actually acquires a certain character of its own.

In addition to the beauty of the brick, more practically, brick fireplaces became common over the years because of the raised hearth which allows for sitting and eating surfaces. Brick fireplace designs also take advantage of brick's natural ability to absorb the heat from the fire and radiate it out into the room. These are the reasons you almost always see people gravitate to and gather around the brick fireplace at family gatherings or other celebrations.

The great thing about utilizing brick in a residential fireplace design is that there are so many different variations in the application of the brick which allow you to get quite creative with your design. The bricks can be laid in the traditional staggered brick pattern, they can be set at an angle, turned up on their edge or any combination of patterns that you can imagine. There are numerous brick finishes and styles available to provide an ‘antiqued’ look or if you prefer a more contemporary feel to your brick fireplace, you can do that too. If you are looking for a more rustic look, reclamation yards are good places to find used handmade bricks from an earlier period in history. Some even choose to paint the brick in order to match a particular color scheme. Whatever your personal preferences may be, there is absolutely no doubt that you can get quite creative with brick fireplace designs.

Regardless of your choice in design, you can rest assured that your brick fireplace will be durable and require little attention through the years. Fireplaces constructed utilizing brick and masonry chimneys typically are very low maintenance as they only require occasional inspections and cleaning. This type construction also allows for peace of mind when you consider fire danger as brick is a natural fireproof material on its own.

In order to finalize the design of your fireplace, be sure to add a strikingly beautiful mantle to top off your design. The mantle is to a fireplace much as icing is to a cake. It adds that crowning touch that really makes the whole thing come together to make brick fireplace designs the masterpieces they are intended to be.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fireplace Design Ideas

One of the first things I notice when touring new homes is the many different fireplace design ideas that are utilized to highlight a room. There is almost no limit to what can be done with the construction of a new fireplace. Once the type of heat is decided, the fun really begins. There are two major decisions that must be made early in the process when it comes to residential fireplace designs. Where in the room the fireplace will be located and the type material that will be used in the construction.

As far as the location goes, most fireplaces end up on the center of a long wall and while this is always a good choice and adds a lot to a room, the center of a wall is hardly unique placement. More and more we are beginning to see fireplaces placed in the corner of a room. While this placement may seem to take up additional space, it does allow for several different furniture arrangements which may not be possible with the usual center wall placement. Another option is a two sided fireplace design that is built into a wall that separates two rooms. This allows for the enjoyment of the fireplace from two different rooms at the same time without having to construct two separate fireplaces. I have also seen fireplaces built at the end of a wall that partially separates two rooms. This actually allows viewing from three different sides and of course permits the fireplace to heat more efficiently. One of the most unique fireplace placement ideas I have noticed is the four sided island fireplace built in the middle of a large room that allows enjoyment of the fireplace from all four sides. While some of these are not very common placements, they definitely show the uniqueness in residential fireplace design ideas that a little imagination can provide.

Once the placement of the fireplace is decided upon, the type materials used to construct the fireplace become the focus of the project. This is where you will really make or break the project. Fireplace design materials are one of the few cosmetic features of home construction that cannot easily be changed. This is why it is extremely important to be sure of your choice of material. A couple of my favorites are the stone fireplace designs and of course the brick fireplace designs. While these are usually the most common, other materials are being utilized more and more in modern fireplace construction. The use of tile, granite, marble and other natural materials are finding their way into the residential fireplaces being built today with some stunning results.

Where ever you choose to place your fireplace or whatever material you choose to use, keep in mind that the fireplace will be the focal point of the room and you will be sure to make the best choices. By doing some thorough research and by visiting some new homes under construction to see the current architects fireplace design ideas, you will be blessed with a fireplace that will provide warmth and visual enjoyment for many years to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fireplace Doors -The Final Touch in Fireplace Designs

Fireplace doors are a great investment. They are designed to help you save on energy costs, beautify your home, and protect your home from hot embers that may pop out into a room. Your fireplace is not just a means of providing heat for your home, it is usually the focal point of the most highly used room in a house. Fireplace doors accentuate the beauty and appeal of flickering flames and glowing embers thus contributing to the overall aesthetic looks of the fireplace and the room decor.

In addition to providing a much needed decorative touch to your fireplace, fireplace doors save energy by eliminating cold drafts and odors. An important consideration in the purchase of doors is the gasket material used where the doors contact the face of the fireplace. Make sure that the doors have a continuous woven gasket which in combination with a positive locking latch will help eliminate heat loss from the home through the fireplace opening. When properly constructed and fitted, studies have shown that fireplace doors can decrease air loss by as much as 90% if the doors are kept closed when the fireplace is not in use.

Another important feature of fireplace doors is the safety that they provide. Not only do they prevent hot embers from popping out into the room, they also prevent items from falling into the fireplace opening. The doors also help keep small children and pets from accidentally coming in contact with the open flames of the fire.

While fireplace doors come in many different styles and finishes, there are basically just two main types. The more traditional style doors that open and close by sliding back and forth on tracks, and cabinet style doors that open and close like regular cabinet doors. Regardless of the the type doors you choose, the shape of the opening will be the determining factor on whether you will purchase a set of available stock fireplace doors or whether custom made doors will be necessary.

Once you have decided that fireplace doors would be a worthwhile investment, it's time to break out the tape measure and take a few measurements. You will need to know the height and width of the fireplace opening. Since fireplace construction is not always exactly perfect, measure the height of the opening in a couple of different places and the width of the opening in at least three places. Note the smallest of these measurements and you are now ready to head to the fireplace supply stores and begin shopping for your new fireplace doors. Once you are home with your new doors, installation is rather straight forward and well within the abilities of most homeowners using very basic tools.

There are just a couple of other things you need to consider when using fireplace doors. Optional mesh curtains or mesh doors allow for the full enjoyment of your fire's warmth with the doors safely open. If you're going to burn wood, we strongly recommend adding mesh. Also, if instead of burning wood in your fireplace, you have gas logs, the doors should always be open when the gas logs are being used. The burning gas produces moisture which can cause the doors to corrode if left closed. Following the tips in this article will allow you to purchase and enjoy that perfect set of fireplace doors, as well as save money and energy, for many, many years to come.