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Design ideas
Choosing a Fireplace
The style of your fireplace dictates more than warmth— it can also control the look and value of your home.
Written by Stephanie Baker
Photography by Bret Gum

A cozy fall night isn’t complete without a fireplace in the picture. Installing or remodeling a fireplace can be a daunting challenge, but with recent advances in technology, there are many different types of fireplaces that can suit your needs. Not only can fireplaces be affordable and hassle-free, but they can increase the value of your home. All it takes is a little time to decide which type is best for you and your home. Here we bring you the pros and cons of the different types to help you decide how best to heat—and complement—your home.

STONE

Pros: Stone fireplaces come in a range of looks and colors, so you’re guaran- teed to get a unique fireplace that is strong and durable. Stone retains heat and warms the room long after the fire has stopped burning.

Cons: It’s fairly expensive and difficult to install.

Best for: Those looking for a bold, rus- tic look and lasting heat.

BRICK

Pros: Easy to install even if you’ve never done it before. They’re also cost- effective and long lasting.

Cons: Brick fireplaces are the most common so you won’t find added value. They can also be difficult to clean, espe- cially if they become soot-stained.

Best for: A budget-friendly approach that still maintains an authentic look and outdoorsy feel.

WOOD-BURNING

Pros: They are generally cost-effective, especially if you have your own supply of wood. They don’t require electricity, and they also provide the romantic sounds of crackling wood and the smell of the fire.

Cons: It takes time to get the fire going and requires diligence to keep it alive. It’s ineffective at heating the whole house, as heat escapes through the chim- ney, just as cold drafts can enter. You’ll also want to keep up with chimney mainte- nance. Check your state’s and county’s restrictions on burning wood; some only allow burning certain kinds of wood, and some don’t allow burning wood at all on high-pollution days.

Best for: A period authentic look and extra ambiance.

Photo by Salomon

GAS

Pros: Easy to start, clean and maintain; some even come with remote controls.

Cons: They can be expensive, depending on whether you use natural gas or propane. You also lose out on the natural sounds and smells of the wood-burning fireplace.

Best for: Those seeking the benefits and look of a real fire but who don’t want the hassle. Gas also doesn’t require a chimney, as you can have a vented or ventless gas fireplace.

ELECTRIC

Pros: Electric fireplaces are fairly inexpen- sive and mobile—you can move an electric fireplace from room to room. All it needs is an outlet.

Cons: These fireplaces don’t provide much heat—they’re sometimes called a glorified space heater. They can also be difficult to install if you’re inexperienced.

Best for: Smaller homes or apartments with no chimneys.