There’s something ancient and innate in human beings that draws us towards fire. Certainly, you’d be pushed to find someone who doesn’t love a real fireplace. So we trawled our archives to bring you a taste of some of the best around.
‘A fireplace in a room gives it a focus,’ says interior designer Kelly Fannon. ‘You can gather around it, arrange seating and conversation areas around it – and, depending on the style, it can give the room real character.’ New York-based interior designer Tina Ramchandani agrees. ‘A fire can really change a room’s ambience,’ she says. ‘When it’s lit, depending on the wood you use, it can set the mood with its sound and scent.’
There’s nothing like the onset of snow to increase the appeal of an open fire. Award-winning Surrey firm Halo Design Interiors designed this ski lodge in the exclusive Courchevel 1850 resort. ‘The owner didn’t want somewhere where you couldn’t sit down and relax – he wanted a place that felt like home,’ says Halo’s Blanca Sanchez. This minimalist fire throws out heat in three directions – perfect for curling up beside after a tough day’s skiing.
But fireplaces don’t have to be cute and cosy. Alix Lawson and her team at Lawson Robb created a clean and contemporary design within the limitations of a listed building. By painting this fireplace a crisp white, they gave it an authentic, yet fresh look, which perfectly offsets the black and neutral tones.
Open fires might not be something you associate with modernism, but in this modernist-inspired space in Farnham, on the Surrey/Hampshire borders, London-based architects Archplan have created a sleek, simple fireplace that even includes space to store the logs.
The fireplace in this four-bedroom Victorian villa in Mount Ararat Road, Richmond is simple in design, but architect Richard Dickinson has used the black-and-white contrast to create a striking feature.
A hunting lodge in Scotland is exactly where you’d expect to see an open fire, but perhaps not one quite like this. Award-winning Cheshire design team The Design Practice by UBER created an incredible seven-bedroom house, which sits on the Gleneagles golf course. For this room, they’ve used a wood-burning stove with integrated log storage. Not only does it look fabulous, it’s also very fuel efficient. ‘We wanted to reflect the natural setting within the spaces of this luxurious home,’ says Simon Evans from The Design Practice by UBER. ‘A key element of this was a focus provided by a number of large wood-burning fires. It was decided that the fires would be contemporary wood burners with exposed timber stores, to provide the warm cosy ski chalet feel within the rooms on those cold winter evenings in Scotland.’
This fireplace is really just a hole in the wall, and is a clean, crisp addition to a bright, spacious and modern-feeling home. This one sits in a 1970s conversion backing onto a scenic North London canal, designed by Living in Space.
Interior designer Gail Race kept it in the family when it came to designing a fireplace for her own home: ‘The fire was made by my brother’s company, which makes bespoke wood and multi-fuel stoves. There is a retractable glass screen which is brilliant. It works like a stove when it’s down and is very fuel efficient. Or, for instant heat, you simply slide the glass up into a hidden cavity. It’s beautifully engineered. Air vents carry warm air to the bedroom above, providing ambient heat to the upper floor. I think a real fire adds gravitas and purpose to a space and, combined with large windows, gives a real connectedness to the elements.”
And don’t forget the bedroom, where fireplaces can also be real show-stoppers. All-white schemes bring calm to the bedroom, and in this Camden show house, designed by HomeRun, the grey marble fireplace provides enough of a focal point to stop the white being overwhelming.
Meanwhile, this 3.5 metre-wide fireplace in a small garden in Holland Park was commissioned by Arts Co. It’s stunning garden feature, and goes to prove that fireplaces aren’t just for indoors. Nor are they just for the winter months. ‘The inclusion of this outdoor fire responded to the client need for the garden to be used primarily as an entertaining space, by providing warmth and flickering light while creating a visual focus to the garden especially after dark,’ says designer Andrew Wilson from Wilson McWilliam Studio. ‘The surface of the fireplace is also designed as a projection screen, enabling the client to watch films or sport outdoors. Dark basalt paving creates a contrast to the fireplace, especially when it’s wet as the paved surface becomes reflective.’ Bring on summer and pass the popcorn…