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As with all things in life, fashions change. The fireplace industry is no exception, as currently there is a quite dramatic change taking place, which we find quite exciting.
We have used gas fires for heating since the nineteenth century but it was in the 1950’s and 60’s with the introduction of the clean air acts that the mass change from domestic coal burning to gas took place. These were radiant fires designed to sit in the hearth in front of your old open coal fire. The industry did nothing to encourage attractive fireplace designs, and whilst gas fire sales rose to around 900,000 annually, fireplace sales dwindled to a trickle. They are still available today but in much smaller numbers.
This state of affairs continued until the 1980’s when living flame fires came onto the market. These were designed to replicate the coal fires most fireplaces were designed for. With the removal of the wooden or metal radiant fire, which no longer dominated the fireplace, people once again looked to make the fireplace as the central feature of the lounge, and the industry flourished once more.
This straightforward style is now facing it’s first serious challenge and we are enjoying a new fashion change.
Whilst here in the UK and Ireland we have historically burnt coal in small domestic grates, elsewhere in the world they have generally burnt wood. In consequence they have had much larger fire openings and when gas fires were introduced they have been designed to replicate these. This has provided much larger beds often incorporated into specially provided chimney breasts. They are altogether of a grander style and are rapidly coming to dominate the more expensive part of the market.
Some models are installed into the wall itself removing the need for a fireplace completely. In tune with current design thinking this is a minimalist approach and potentially space saving. Many highly fashionable fireplaces are available specifically designed to complement both this new concept and the other trend, which is wood burning stoves. These are increasingly replacing the traditional 16″ gas fire and providing a much-needed boost.
There are models available, which can operate on precast gas flues, traditional chimneys or balanced flue that can be installed on suitable outside walls with no existing flue of any kind. Almost every home should be able to upgrade to the latest designs and there is certainly no need to remain stuck in the 1980’s.