Cosying up in front of life's pleasures during cold weather - and those flickering flames bring a room alive.
Nowadays there's no need to feel left out in the cold if you haven't got a chimney - after all it never stops Father Christmas! - there are fires to suit every home. Designer's recognise that fires are often the focal point of any living room and have worked their magic to create traditional fireplaces and innovative solutions for homes without a flue.
A fireplace or stove is often the natural focal point of a room in autumn and winter and furniture is often pulled towards it. "A fireplace can be an eye-catching centrepiece which transforms a room" Says Paul Chesney of Chesney's.
"Many customer are deciding to improve rather than move and want to use a fireplace to improve their living space or bring a new style to their home."
Take care choosing the fireplace surround, he advises, so that it suits the room and its proportions. "You don't necessarily have to go for a design which matches the age or period of the house" he says. "Instead, be guided by your decorating scheme. Choose something you find attractive, but do take into account the ceiling height, room depth and chimney breast width."
Faking It Fires
Toasting your toes in front of an open fire has always been one of the best things in life, but these days you can get the effect without all the effort associated with burning coal or solid fuel. Gas fires look so good these days it is often hard to tell they're not real. Or if you haven't got a gas connection you could simply plug into the world of electric fires, which has been transformed since the days of the soulless two-bar fire.
The recent icy winters and steep hikes in fuel prices have triggered a huge surge in the popularity and demand for stoves. It's hardly a surprise really because wood burning stoves in particular are so eco-friendly, visually appealing and efficient.
While a traditional open fire is estimated to throw about 20% of it's heat, some of the latest stoves claim to generate upwards of 75% efficiency. One big advantage is that stoves don't necessarily need a proper, brick built chimney. They can be installed virtually anywhere in the home, either on an outside wall or through the centre of the house. But don't forget to check if you live in a smoke control zone as there may be restrictions on what you can burn.