As technologically advanced as our homes have become, there’s still no substitute for the soothing and hypnotic qualities of a real fire. As a primal emblem of welcome and safety, the warmth and light of a well-built fire are simple pleasures that transcend place and time. We’ve put together a few tips to help you coax the best results out of your indoor or outdoor fireplace.
When it’s not in use, your indoor fireplace may look a little dark and forlorn. Most fireboxes are black, which tends to grab the eye and can have a distracting or unbalancing effect. That’s why it’s a good idea to either cover the fireplace with a screen during the warmer seasons, or utilize it as an extra display space. Items like candles, flowers, live plants, books or even vintage birdcages all look charming inside cold fireplaces, and contribute a delightful sense of hygge or coziness. The space directly above your fireplace is also a great place to mount a flatscreen TV or extra-large mirror.
Build a traditional fire using dense wood that has been dried for at least six months to ensure a good burn. There are lots of different methods of building and maintaining fires, and many passionate opinions about which method is the best. This very comprehensive website offers all the step by step instructions you could possibly need to get started.
More contemporary fireplaces, like the Equinox outdoor fireplace, run on bioethanol fuel. Bioethanol is made of denatured ethanol and burns clean, producing no smoke — just water and carbon dioxide. Being smokeless, indoor models don’t require chimneys and some are even portable. Bioethanol gives out less heat than a wood fire, but the heat it does produce is steadier, and it doesn’t need constant attention.
Safety and maintenance
Have your chimney professionally swept and inspected for damage at least once a year, particularly before lighting the first fire of the winter. Debris blown in from outdoors and residue from last year’s fires can build up, blocking smoke from escaping and in extreme cases catching fire.
Make sure outdoor fires are at least 10 feet from fences, walls, trees or anything else flammable, and smother the flames before turning in for the night by dumping sand or cold ashes over them. Avoid dousing with water if you possibly can, as a wet fire pit or fireplace takes a long time to dry out and will be hard to light next time.
Finally, always make sure that your household smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working, and that every family member knows where to find a fire extinguisher in case of emergencies.
Cover image courtesy of HomeAdvisor.