Winter is coming, and it’s time to think about curling up in front of a fire with a hot mug and a blanket during the cold and dark months. However, many houses these days aren’t built with fireplaces, and that TV channel you can sometimes find that plays a loop of a fake fire crackling is drab and unfulfilling. The good news is, you can install an electric or ethanol-based fireplace anywhere in your home – no chimney needed – to get real, lasting fire and heat without having to install or maintain a traditional fireplace.
Let me tell you a little secret from living in a house with an open and functional “real” fireplace: chimneys are awful and you are not missing out if your home doesn’t have one. If you aren’t burning wood in your hearth regularly, birds or bats will nest in it, and manage to fly into your living room at least once or twice, along with regularly pooping in it. Fires themselves also require a lot of care to maintain; without the right burning conditions, all you’ll produce is smoke. Give your fire a bit too much of a boost from accelerants, and your smallest problem is going to be stray embers flying free and burning holes into your carpet. Then there’s soot and how it goes everywhere and seems impossible to clean out. At best, dealing with the real thing is a mess, and at worst you will burn your house down.
You may have a fireplace in your home already, but the chimney has been closed in the past and it’s not in use. If that’s the case with yours or you’re not sure, do not light firewood in it until you have it properly checked out! Chimneys are typically closed to keep animals from nesting inside when there isn’t fire to scare them out, and that lack of ventilation will cause the smoke to billow out into the room instead of outside. This is incredibly dangerous for your health. You can close that chimney off and convert this space to allow for a faux firewood and electric/ethanol/gas heating setup to maintain the function of your beautiful mantle.
No mantle? No problem! You have the option to get one with a mantle already built in if you’re particularly fond of the classic fireplace look. The mantles have different frame finishes and come with a marble top that is a functional shelf. These pieces are easier to install into an existing home than building a chimney for a traditional fireplace, and come with the benefit of going in any room you want without inconvenience.
Options include electric and ethanol powered, both of which are more efficient heating systems than charcoal and firewood. With an electrical hookup, you can turn on the flames with the flick of a light switch, which can feel pretty good as a power-trip. The ethanol-based fires are more eco-friendly than their gas-powered predecessors, which tends to translate to being cheaper to use as well.
You can’t roast chestnuts over these open fires, which many would say is the major drawback of not having the real thing. That, and that the heat these fireplaces give off is very real, so I recommend having a screen placed in front of your fireplace to avoid anyone getting too close and burning a hand. A screen also has the bonus of adding a decorative element and that that touch of authenticity to your hearth, which you could combine with decorative stoking tools or a firewood holder.
This winter, avoid the chill with a fireplace actually designed for modern life, and enjoy all the warmth and beauty of a traditional fireplace without any of the hassle.