Maybe you’ve been in your home for a few years and have been longing for a toasty hearth at its heart. Or you already have one and love it so much you want another in the bedroom or another room.
Fireplaces rarely are a necessity these days, which may be why they add a layer of opulence and a statement that you’re going the extra mile to make your abode memorable for all who live in or enter it.
In almost all cases it is possible to add a fireplace to an existing home; most of the options fall into one of three categories:
Direct-vent gas fireplace
These can be installed on any exterior wall, venting directly out the back. They are probably today’s most popular choice because of their ease of use and effective heating, though they lack the sights and sounds of the homiest wood-burning hearths.
Wood-burning masonry fireplace
This is what most people tend to visualize with a brick or stone façade and firebox and chimney, as well as a mantel. Any home with 11 to 14 inches clearance for a chimney to the roof can have one. It requires considerably more upkeep but provides the full sensory and package many families are seeking. Many don’t heat as efficiently as gas models since much of the energy escapes through the chimney.
Zero-clearance (prefabricated) fireplace
These are usually the most inexpensive option, and lower-quality models can look tacky or incongruous with the rest of the room. Because their enclosures stay cool, they can go virtually anywhere in the house and come in wood, gas or pellet-burning models or electric versions.
Most of these can be framed with either traditional or modern designs, depending on your existing aesthetic or the one you’re aspiring to.
Slabs of this particularly rich and versatile stone are used for a sleek yet traditional look and are the most popular material for fireplaces today, especially in the upscale market.
Fieldstone hearths are constructed from different sizes and shapes of stone, as might be gathered from one or more fields, while ledgestone versions stack narrower strips of stone for what’s considered a more contemporary look.
This is probably the most traditional style and can really pull together a home that’s already steeped in influences of centuries past (beginning with the 20th). Often works best paired with a wooden, rather than masonry, mantel.