Warm-as-toast fireplaces

Make a real fire the focal point of your living space with these heartwarming design ideas

1 Hole in the Wall

Make the most of any quirks in old country properties – if your chimneybreast has a particularly tall aperture, consider blocking one section off mid height for a fire grate and using the bottom section for log storage. Cover up any alterations to the brickwork with a dark and equally eyecatching coat of paint. This simple look created by the lack of a fire surround also makes it ideal for smaller interior spaces.

2 Period Drama

If your home has original Georgian or Victorian fireplaces, make the most of their large proportions to add drama to your interiors. Employ an expert to restore and enhance the condition and character of the fire grate, surround and mantel and have the chimney relined to allow for real fires. If you don’t have one, you can always source original fireplaces at salvage yards and antique fairs, just make sure you purchase something that is in keeping with the original period of your country home.

3 Rustic charm

If you’re lucky enough to own a home with an inglenook fireplace, make sure it takes centre stage. Opt for a traditional rustic pared-back look instead of installing a wood-burning stove. Richard Billington of The Billington Partnership suggests, “a large forged iron fire hood that will not only prevent smoke from filling the room but when teamed with an iron grate resting on a handful of bricks creates a beautiful and traditional country look”.

4 Set in stone

Large, decorative, gothic fire surrounds are great features to add drama to a room, but they don’t need to be combined with an open roaring fire. A clean and efficient alternative is a log burner that loses only 20% of heat up the chimney compared to 80% with an open fire. Sue Bagan of Country Kilnadvises, “The size of the fireplace hole restricts the size of the stove being installed, however, any stove will reduce your heating bills and add a friendly focal feature to your home.”

5 Rock the look

Chimneybreasts in homes constructed of stone or flint look stunning when pared back to their original state and the warm glow created by the flames will enhance the natural hues of the stone. If adding to an existing interior consider using stones of a different size to the existing walls for a dramatic sense of scale, and try adding a stripped back beam to act as a simple but useful mantel for candles and decorative objects.

6 Double exposure

If building work includes removing internal walls, consider retaining a chimneybreast and opening it up into both connecting rooms. Install a large, eye-catching fire grate and enjoy the warmth it will radiate into both spaces as well the focal point it will create. An inset reclaimed railway sleeper or timber beam makes a stunning rustic fire surround and, when combined with a shelf,creates a great mantelpiece, too.

7 White hot

Enhance the architectural angles of a simple cottage chimneybreast with a coat of paint in a pale shade. Charlotte Crosby Head of Creative at Farrow & Ballsays, “Painting your fireplace is a quick and easy way to create a focal point in any room. Opt for a soft white shade such as Wimborne White from Farrow & Ball and pair with a warm neutral background to enhance the natural hues of antique iron, wood and stone and create a gentle country feel.” Whitewash a beam as a mantelpiece, too, for a pretty country feel.

For more inspiring design secrets visit the Country Homes & Interiors website.

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