Some people enjoy stargazing, but there is something to be said for curling up beside the fireplace, gazing at the hypnotic flames as they flicker and dance. Today’s gas fireplaces are sleek, attractive and easy to use. With the touch of a button they add both warmth and calm to a room.
Make way for new media
Direct vent gas fireplaces were developed a long time ago. They use outside air for combustion rather than indoor air which provides better air quality and efficiency. Now their aesthetics have been transformed as well. Instead of the traditional louvred style, modern gas fireplaces are clean-faced, with sleek linear styling.
Linear fireplaces have become a hot decorating trend. According to Ron David, of Topfire Fireplace and Barbecue Inc., the development of new technologies designed to vent heat away from the top of the gas fireplace enabled much more versatility, along with new features such as
mesh safety screens or premium glass guards that protect consumers from potential burns without impacting the appearance. “In the past you would never have been able to place a fireplace directly under a wide screen TV, but Dynamic Key Control (by Napoleon) and other similar systems allow you to direct the heat with much more precision” says David. Because of this new technology, you have many more options around finishes, and you can use materials like drywall or wood around the fireplace that formerly would have been too combustible.
“Manufacturers are able now to provide a comprehensive line-up with a huge variety of options,” says David. Many designers are using linear fireplaces as the focal point in a room, and it’s no secret why: fire is a form of art in itself, and now you can have many choices about how you frame it. Surrounds and safety barriers come in a variety of finishes and faux logs have taken a back seat to newer decorative materials available
inside the unit—known as media. The number of media choices now is a bit overwhelming. You can choose an “ember bed,” from a wide range of coloured glass beads and other enhancements such as faux twigs, river rocks, or a range of geometric shapes. Enclosure options are as varied as your imagination and budget will allow. Designs range from drywall to tile, stone, or marble. The end result can look Zen-like, futuristic, or natural like the “Beach and Shore” kit.
Wall You’re at it
Although renovation shows on TV make installing linear fireplaces appear easy, ordering and installing one requires consultation with an expert. David points out “There are still many specifications and safety requirements that need to be understood and respected. People often think that it’s as easy as hanging a picture, but it’s actually quite complex. “For one thing, the fireplace is bigger than the viewing area, and the depth of the unit can be in the range of 18 or 20 inches, so you will have
to build the correct size of enclosure to house it. “The real complexity relates to the multiple safety requirements such as clearances from combustibles, venting parameters, and technical specifications that must be met to ensure optimal operation and performance. Sometimes the technical requirements impact design decisions,” says David. Having a professional come out to assess your space will prevent headaches such as choosing a unit that is too big, or not considering all the options at your disposal. For example, if you have the right space, you can install a see-through unit that can enhance two rooms for the price of one.
Light up your life
These new products make lighting a fire as simple as a flick of a switch. In fact, some can be operated by an app on your cell phone. The allure of a warm, inviting place to gather at the end of a long cold day is likely to have everyone hankering for home.
Topfire Fireplace & BBQ, Aurora
by Becky Dumais & Elaine Jackson