There’s a spot for a fireplace in our living room.  The living room has a double height void so the fireplace could be quite a feature.  The builders want to know how big a space to leave for the fireplace so I’ve been investigating our options.  As always, narrowing my favourite pictures down to a top 5, seems to help me define what I like:

A very simple fireplace allows the exposed brick wall to feature.

A very simple fireplace is all that is required beside those beautiful stone walls.  Source:  Maisons Cote Sud via Linen and Lavender.

Modern linear, no mantle.

Modern, linear.  A sill replaces the traditional mantel.  Source: Architectural Digest.

A stainless steel fire surround and a beautiful old beam mantle dress up this fireplace.

A stainless steel fire surround and a beautiful old beam mantle dress up this fireplace.  Source: Casa Sugar.

I love the whole room.  Mind you, I probably won't get magazine quotes written on the wall.

I love this whole room. Mind you, I probably won’t have self quotes written on the wall.  Source:  Canadian House & Home, via La Dolce Vita.

A feature colour for the surround and matching cat.  (They can keep the antlers.)    More lovely beams...

A feature colour for the surround and matching cat.  Source:  The Style Files.

Here’s the living room design for our house plan:

Webb and Brown-Neaves' "Rubix" living room.

Webb and Brown-Neaves‘ “Rubix” living room.

Open wood fires are beautiful, but the reality is that we are going to be living in suburbia.  No fallen old trees.  Neighbours in sniffing distance.  Lazy homeowner who will happily flick on a switch for heat but will rarely set a wood fire and clean up after it.

So here are the options:

1.)  Stick with an open wood fire.  Place a couple of logs in there for looks and light it only a couple of times per year.  (I’m not sure of the costs associated with this option yet.  Any guesses?)

2.) Install a wood-look, gas fuelled fireplace with glass front.  ($5-10K.)

We’d seen some nice fireplaces of this kind (not too fake looking) by French company, Chazelles, so I went to visit the sole Western Australian supplier of this brand.  The friendly, bearded fellow from the hills was not that keen on Chazelles, nor Heatmaster, but directed me to an American brand, Lopi.  Like most of the gas fireplaces, you can mix and match your choice of fire surround, fire “material” and fireplace insert, to achieve a look you like.   The Lopi gas fireplaces range from $6.5 to $8.5K.   There are a couple of options that you can retrofit to an existing fireplace, but the install-as-you-build fireplaces look best.

For that price, we want to make the right decision, so I’m asking for advice.  The fire will not be our only source of heat, so we don’t need to be too worried about the ability of the fireplace to heat a certain volume.  However, when we’ve got the fire on, it should be able to heat our large open living room area.  We want it to look nice and be trouble free.

I asked around on the HomeOne Forum and a couple of people recommended Jetmaster.      These heaters would be in the same price range as the Lopi heaters.

HeatnGlo fireplace.

Jetmaster Universal 850 fireplace.  (Open gas?)

Jetmaster's HeatnGlo

Jetmaster‘s Heat & Glo 6000 (“Balanced flue,” whatever that might mean.)

Do you have a fireplace you love?  Have you had a dud?  All comments welcome.

Edit:  Two weeks later.

We’ve made a decision with our hearts! We are going for a wood fuelled fire. We’ve selected a British brand, Stovax, It has a door and we are going to install it with a fan.

Stovax wood fire.  Source:  Castworks.

Stovax wood fire. Source: Castworks.

  • Fire: $5069
  • Fan kit: $ 742
  • Flu kit (4 metres, air cooled): $435

The quote came from a man called Mr Stokes. Now that is dedication!


20 thoughts on “Fireplaces

  1. trixee says:

    Loving those pictures! I’ve lived with wood fireplaces for a long time. I love them, they are beautiful, but there’s no way I would have one now as they really are a hassle to clean. Mind you, chopping wood is also good exercise! If you’re keen and organised, you can usually find cheap firewood in the paper, or you could wait for your local green waste verge collection and get some free wood. But you’d need somewhere to store all that wood until it dries out properly. I wouldn’t worry too much about the neighbours, I don’t know anyone who’s complained about wood smoke, but I guess it depends on what they’re like, if they have allergies or asthma, and if they have some washing hanging out at the time!

    I don’t mind the look of gas fireplaces though, and think they’re a good compromise. If I was going to get one, that’s what I’d get but I think we’re just sticking with reverse cycle air conditioning if we need heat or cooling (though we may yet change our minds on that one!).

  2. Africadayz says:

    Hi Jo. We have two gas Jetmaster fireplaces in our present home. They work well but the heat they generate doesn’t seem to last for any length of time. ie The minute you switch them off the room is cold. Will you have a council or city gas connection? We do not have one here which means we have two big gas cannisters behind the house which need to be refilled periodically. Some suburbs here do have city or ‘Town Gas’ as it is often referred to. That is a lot more convenient as it means you don’t run the risk of running out of gas when you most need it.

    Have you ever heard of Morsi fireplaces? They are becoming increasingly popular here and I think they use compacted wood chips. Apparently they generate heat extremely well and one small fireplace can warm quite a big open plan space.

  3. Hi,

    A bit of a curve ball but have you considered a wood burning (or multi-fuel) stove. Clean and safe and it saves your wall (and probably loads of expense). We are installing a Skantherm Shaker stove – can be seen to great effect in this beautiful house:

    Gas is convenient but agree about residual heat which is something a real fire provides in buckets!

    As ever good luck

    • Ha! Way too big a curve for a ready-made house plan and at this stage of the process. But I do love the way you help me think outside the box, so to speak! So please do keep your suggestions coming. That house is beautiful and the view speaks for itself. I can see that stove will be perfect for your place. I’m off now to look up if there are some multi-fuel options to sit in a fireplace. There is an “EcoSmart Fire” available in Australia that uses bioethanol, but I find them a bit too futuristic in looks.

  4. The WNB fireplace is beautifully set in. Dimensions aesthetically lovely. I think that your space is so open that this fire will not realistically be a heat source but it will give a lovely ambience. I’d go for a simple gas flame fire that fits the space or leave it open.

  5. Some great photo inspiration for fireplaces! I’ve always dreamed of an open fireplace but I know from experience at my mum’s house they are a nightmare to clean!

  6. Our previous two houses had natural wood fireplaces. In our new house we have a propane fueled Vantage Hearth fireplace with ceramic fiber logs. I was tired of cleaning those real wood fireplaces, and never got the heat in the room sufficiently. This fireplace is a vent free and the heat it generates is amazing. I am happy not to clean a fireplace ever again, and enjoy the open front (no sparks flying out), and the table top remote control.

  7. May says:

    True wood fire places…. lovely to look at, keeps the house warm longer etc. etc. but a total bugger to clean and maintain so suggest you don’t make a rod for your own back. We do not have a fireplace, just reverse cycle A/C which is fine for us, but a fireplace is a lovely feature. From experience with friends, the ceramic fibre logs have a plus in that they retain some heat for longer, after being switched off.

  8. Simbug says:

    Hi, We are installing an Escea DL850, which I must admit we don’t really know much about. Going to Hearth House in Jandakot over the weekend to check whether it is any good. One of the million decisions needed to build a home!

  9. It really comes to effort. How much do you want to deal with wood, storage, cleaning the firebox etc. For some, this is just too much work. For others, the ritual of the fire and the associated elements is all part of the mystique. If you do look at a fire, I’d suggest an inbuilt fire with a glass door. The open fires just use way too much wood and most of it goes up the chimney. Good luck with your search. It is a tough decision.

  10. That made me laugh out loud, the self quote on the wall. Perhaps that’s a future interiors trend 😉 I’m still deciding on the aesthetic bit but we had to give dimensions for the exact firebox we wanted at plan sign-off, so I’ve chosen a RealFlame Captiva 600 (glass front and remote control). Good on you for following your hearts! Mr Stokes, that’s too funny 🙂

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