Whether it is a traditional surround or an ultra-modern wood-burner, the fireplace is the ultimate symbol of home. From the crackling of a real fire to the flickering light conjured up by the latest modern models, there’s something undeniably enticing about curling up next to a fireplace, no matter what the style. Here’s how to achieve the art of cosiness.
FOCUS ON THE FLAME
Ever since primeval times, fire and man have been intrinsically linked. While most of us don’t rely on a fire for warmth or cooking any more, it is still an important and desirable part of a home. Whether you love a characterful period fireplace or you lust after a contemporary installation – a fire oozes character and is a crucial architectural focal point to any living space.
Ben Pellegrini, director of Cambridge Stoves, experts in wood burning stoves, comments: “Man has an obsession with fire. There’s a Danish concept – called Hygge – which is said to make homes nicer and people happier. It roughly translates as ‘cosiness’ and having a fire in your home is part of this concept. People also like the thought of having a fire – particularly wood burners – in their home because they are often energy efficient. Burley stoves are among the most efficient – they have a contemporary look, so they fit into the style of modern houses. Dean Stoves – such as the Dartmoor – are also popular. This model has a huge glass window so you can see a lot of the flame and it is also quite slim making it a practical choice as it fits into most existing hearths. We have something available to fit everyone’s needs.”
A must for older properties is an impressive, traditional surround that speaks volumes of cosy winter evenings spent indoors. If your property no longer contains its original fireplace, than seek out a classic style from Haddonstone, which stocks a selection of cast stone fireplaces, mantels and chimney-piece surrounds, from simple and stylish to ornate and decorative in design.
By contrast, a wood-burner can also add oodles of character. Experts in modern wood-burners, Morsø UK offers a selection of elegant styles, such as the just-launched Insert Stove Collection. Managing director, Declan Walsh, says: “It’s never been more popular or more fashionable to install a wood-burning stove into your home. The trend now has changed from traditional stoves to contemporary, free-standing stoves that are a focal point in the room.”
Taking the concept of home fires a step further is Go Modern which stocks a range of minimalist bioethenal fires from select Danish brands. The high-end designs – from Cocoon and Decoflame, for instance – feature flue-less designs, that don’t require a connection to gas or electricity. Bioethanol is a green fuel from sustainable sources, emitting no smoke, soot or smell, and generating only very small amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapour when burning. Simple in style, they provide contemporary spaces with a superb focal point and are simple to operate, providing instant heat.
Cambridge-based Cade Wood Burning Stove Installations supplies and fits stoves throughout Cambridgeshire and the surrounding areas. Director Nigel Cade comments: “We predominantly install Convection Swedish Contura type stoves, which are known for their excellent heat distribution, compared to the more usual radiant heat appliances. Considerable savings can be made on heating costs with one of these models. Environmentally friendly, burning wood in a stove produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as wood decomposing in the forest. In other words, choose a high efficiency stove, burn fuel sourced from sustainable managed woodlands and you are contributing to a cleaner environment.”
He continues: “Inexpensive, sustainable wood is generally a lot cheaper than the volatile fossil fuels of oil, coal or electricity, especially if you can get a free source of wood from your garden or friendly joinery workshop! Aesthetically attractive, your wood burner can become a stylish traditional or contemporary focal point to the room, allowing the seductive power of the dancing flame to enhance the overall comfort level of your home.”
For more options on environmentally friendly options, Eco Installer based in Ely, can also help. It has a range of wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves on display in its showroom and can supply and install premium space heating stoves, as well as stoves which can contribute to the central heating and hot water through either a thermal store or a heating innovations panel.
“Multi-fuel stoves burn wood, wood pellets and coal and can be used for cooking, and for heating your home,” Eco Installer advises. “Multi-fuel stoves are becoming increasingly popular as a focal point in the home and are a cost-effective alternative for space and water heating using renewable or fossil-fuel heat sources. Burning wood from a renewable source is an easy way of helping to protect the environment, not just for ourselves but for future generations. Nothing is more warming than curling up snug in front of your wood burner.”
Once you have chosen your style of burner or fireplace, then the next step is to create a cosy tableau around it for the perfect inviting space. Essential to the look and feel of your fireside is, of course, the seating that you choose.
For showstopper pieces – such as the mustard-yellow Tempo leather sofa and the dove-grey suede Marlene fireside chair – visit Natuzzi Italia. Amy Howard, marketing manager, gives her style advice: “For a truly cosy atmosphere, plan the space from the floor upwards. A soft, deep rug adds welcome texture to a room as well as having the practical benefit of taking the chill off the floor. Seating should be chosen with care. A lot of time is spent curled up at home on a chilly evening, so it’s wise to choose a comfortable and practical option, but this doesn’t have to mean compromising on style.”
“A sofa or armchair in deep rich shades such as red or mustard yellow can offer the perfect marriage of comfort and panache. Accessories are key for adding to the opulent feel of a space; when creating an inviting atmosphere, more is more. Decorative vases and ornamental pieces bring an instant luxe look. Finishing with a home fragrance boosts the sensory experience, while displaying the bottle adds to the eclectic feel.”
Meanwhile Rick Petini, creative director and managing director of British sofa company Delcor, says for maximum impact, it’s all about the statement sofa. “Substantial pieces like seating carry bold patterns with aplomb and can be a great way to unify a decorating scheme” he says. “Don’t be afraid of a pattern clash. Spots and stripes or mismatched florals give a contemporary feel to a room and work well provided the overall colour scheme is kept simple and complementary.”
Ercol’s creative director Rachel Galbraith adds: “Everyone can imagine the pleasure of settling down in a favourite chair by a warm fire on a chilly night or finding a cosy corner with good light to read a book or paper. At Ercol we understand the need for chairs, which are versatile, stylish and, above, all, comfortable whether you are relaxing in the evening or working by day. The Marino Chair is a perfect example of a chair which offers all those ingredients, has the classic style which works with all other pieces and is beautifully made so that it will last for generations.”
SOFTLY DOES IT
Like any interiors scheme, accessorising is key. Layer sofas and chairs with soft pillows and faux-fur throws for maximum comfort factor.
Ragged Rose’s jewel-coloured velvet cushions and blankets give a feminine touch, while Dash & Albert Europe’s muted linen prints are ideal for a mix and match effect. Bright prints, such as shown on the cushions at Hibou Home and Aspace, are perfect for an otherwise neutral room – bringing interest and colour to a pared-back scheme.
For chic stripes, subtle patterns and soft sheepskin finishes, stock up at Scandi Living. “A neutral colour palette is the trademark of Scandinavian interiors,” says managing director Linda Swarbrick. “I love the striking looks that can be achieved with such simplicity. Grey is so elegant and can be amazingly warm and inviting when used in the correct way.”
From rustic log baskets to ceramic lanterns, there’s a myriad ways of dressing your mantelpiece and hearth. Pastel Lane is a one-stop shop for tea light holders, antique-style lanterns and lace-effect candle pots, which can all combine for a charming effect.
For a range of modern candle-holders, copper storage baskets and mirrors, checkout home emporium Out There Interiors. Founder Jenny Hurren says: “Nothing says winter like a crackling, cosy fire. For the ultimate in relaxed settings, place an oversized armchair next to the fireplace and layer up with chunky knitted throws, indulgent faux fur cushions, and rich autumnal colourways. Add opulent metallic tones for a modern touch. My top tip is to add cinnamon sticks or your favourite essential oils to the kindling to fill the home with the most wonderful scents.”
Giving her personal take on creating ambience is home-accessories queen Gisela Graham: “In winter, in my London house, the sitting room fire is nearly always lit. It is infinitely nicer and more comforting than central heating – my cats like it, too! I always keep logs in a basket beside the fire ready to use, which look lovely and the smell reminds me of winters in Germany. And, of course, there are always lots of candles.”
FANCY FOOT WORK
Whether you opt for sleek wood or textural carpet, the flooring you choose is fundamental to bringing an intimate fireside look together.
Kersaint Cobb is renowned for its sisal, jute and coir carpets. Its new Caribbean Day’s 100% wool collection is based on natural and earthy tones and complements neutral palettes.
Wood flooring, such as the new parquet wood collection from Bisazza, on the other hand, adds a sophisticated touch. Warm it up with a statement rug, like the new vibrant Ted Baker collection available at Modern Rugs.
Ben Dale, managing director, gives his insight: “As a general rule, when choosing a rug, go for the largest size and the best quality rug you can afford. Avoid ‘the floating rug’ look in which you have a small rug in the middle of the room touching no furniture. As well as adding colour or pattern, a good rug will also create an area to bring all of your furniture together, so it should always reach or go under furniture. A rug is a good way to add a pop of colour to a room.”
For a subtle effect, Urbane Living has a range of glamourous pieces, such as its Fading World Blue Night Rug and Vanilla Dream. Managing director Adam Robertson, comments: “When choosing a rug it is important to think about the choice of material and its suitability for the space in which it will be used. Area rugs are a great way to finish a room as they help to bring colours and style together whilst adding comfort and warmth. Consider the impact you want from your rug then choose colours that either blend seamlessly to unify a room or create a statement to define your space. Sumptuous deep piles will add a sense of luxury in areas such as the living room.”
Barker & Barker’s bright graphic patterns and deep pile rugs, will give the wow factor to any fireside. Janet Dixon, chief designer, suggests choosing a hand-knotted rug for its longeavity and says that planning your whole room in advance is key. “When choosing a rug for the home, think about how you want to use it. Is it going to make a statement piece or does it need to blend into the space to create a more relaxed atmosphere?” she says. “Whatever you decide make sure you absolutely love the colour and design. Neutral colours will make a space feel more relaxed, while vibrant colours will create more of a focal point.“
LIGHT IT UP
Lighting is, of course, central to creating the right atmosphere for the ultimate comfortable fireside space. Add in variations, such as table lamps, pendants and wall lights, so you can create differing effects depending on the time of day or night.
Simon Wallis-Smith, director of Fritz Fryer, agrees: “It’s important to have multiple layers of light in areas such as the living room, with the principle source being dimmable. This enables you to set the right mood for the room.”
Meanwhile the lighting collection from new brand J Adams & Co draws inspiration from England’s historic design archives. Box wall lights and lantern-style pieces are imbued with antique styling and age-old surface techniques, all sympathetically combined with the latest lighting technology to suit the modern home.
Quirky chandeliers, like those available at Besselink and Jones, and the overhanging Arco lamp at Flos, give immediate impact to a room, while stylish side lamps – check out the range available at Dar Lighting – are essential for evening reading.
Finally, make sure your colour palette is on-trend to create the perfect backdrop to your fireside. Combine dark and light shades and consider painting the chimney breast or alcoves either side of a fireplace in a bold, statement colour.
Helen Shaw, marketing director of paint specialist Benjamin Moore UK lends her expertise: “Paint has the power to change the feel of a room more than any other element. With fireplaces often being the focal point of the room, you can create a wonderful effect by using paint colour to accentuate the feature. For a subtle scheme, use a colour a few tones darker than your main wall colour. Sticking to muted, greyed off shades will help to keep the scheme feeling cosy and inviting. For a more adventurous pop of colour, select a complementary shade (complementary colours are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel, such as blue and green). The cleaner the colour, the more vibrant the effect will be – more muted shades will create a more subtle and sophisticated combination.”