If you're finding that your Wooly Hobes and knitted layers aren't quite taking the winter edge off anymore, it's the perfect time to light the fire or dust off the heaters to make your home extra warm and comfortable for the season ahead. House & Garden approached Alex about her design techniques on how to warm a home for their latest July issue.
What is the best thing about a fireplace, aside from keeping warm in winter?
A statement fireplace can add drama, style, decoration, warmth and romance to a room. It can help to set a tone for particular style or era. A beautiful fireplace is almost like an artwork. They can be framed beautifully and symmetrically on a feature wall and become the focus of a room.
What are some fireplace styles that you are loving this season?
We are involved in a very diverse range of projects at the moment, so I am loving a number of classic and contemporary styles. I love the way a fireplace can add atmosphere to any room. For a more traditional look, I will always love the beautiful carved French surrounds and collars with traditional braziers.
In a classic/contemporary setting, the stone surrounds of the fireplace can be the hero, where full marble boxes take centre stage and the fireplace element is secondary to the dramatic feature.
For a modern/contemporary look, fireplaces can become statement furniture pieces that add a sculptural element to the room, such as a stand-alone fireplace that is suspended from the ceiling.
When we think of a fireplace, we often think of the traditional chopped firewood and naked flames. What does a modern version look like?
Bioethanol Burners have really set the scene for modern fireplaces, allowing us for the first time to easily retro-fit fireplaces into spaces that do not require fluing. This style of fireplace is small so a whole new world has opened up allowing installation into furniture pieces, joinery and in fact almost anywhere else the imagination can take you (with a few restrictions in regards to combustible materials!). For example, we recently installed an EcoSmart Fire Burner on a kitchen bench top. Whilst the generated heat is perfect for an intimate area or room, Bioethanol Burners are more about mood and ambience rather than a source to heat a whole house.
What is the most effective way to decorate a fireplace?
Decorating fireplaces can easily be done. For existing fireplaces that have a chimney breast, that being a wall that protrudes, these walls can be painted in a feature colour or texture or clad in a beautiful wallpaper, tile or metal finish.
Mantel pieces offer a more traditional look and are really only required for an open flame. Mantels can be charming and allow space for photographs, artwork, vases or l’objet d’art.
A more contemporary look for a fireplace is to remove the mantels all together and hang artwork or mirrors on the wall above. In modern homes we often allow for a television to be mounted above a fireplace.
Artwork and mirrors hung over fireplaces create focal points and allow for symmetry in a room. Placing sofas on either side of the rooms creates balance and draws your eye to the fireplace feature.
I try to allow for flexible seating in the spaces I design. Obviously you will only need to use a fireplace in colder months and there are many sunny months where the room also needs to work well. Flexible seating allows for spaces that are comfortable whether you are lounging by the open flame, taking advantage of a view or simply watching television.
How do you disguise less charming heaters?
For less visually appealing heaters, such as wall heaters or panel heaters we would usually make them as inconspicuous as possible. Making them the same colour or similar to the wall colour means they will fade away and be less of a feature.
Are there any other forms of heating you would recommend?
I’m a big fan of underfloor heating. It’s a real luxury to get out of bed or walk into the bathroom and have warmth under foot. It’s also an effective way to stay warm, from your toes up!
Ducted heating is also a great option, but both ducted heating and underfloor heating require some level of building works and are not easy to retrofit. For anyone considering a renovation, I would definitely recommend looking into these options.
We are also currently designing many outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, which are perfect for Australian living and continuing our love affair with outdoor entertaining even in the cooler months.