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Home Improvement: October is National Fireplace Month

Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Contemporary, see-through fireplaces that warm multiple rooms. Prefabricated gas fireplaces that mount directly to the wall. Electric fireplaces that look realistic and can really put out the heat.

No, these are not the fireplaces you knew when growing up in your parent’s home. Today’s fireplaces are designed for visual excitement, two-sided exposure and installation in locations previously unconsidered.

“The conventional fireplace has all but been reinvented in recent years,” says Jack Goldman, president and CEO of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA). “Today’s fireplaces cater to the specific needs and wants of homeowners,” he says, reminding all that October is National Fireplace Month.

Goldman says that a decade ago, generally only the extremely wealthy would have considered having more than one fireplace in the house. “There are so many new products on the market today that can fit any budget and style.”

While your parents may have had a wood-burning fireplace, the chances are that it wasn’t outfitted with an insert. “Fireplace inserts with glass doors have become the standard, retaining the heat generated by the fire when in use, and limiting draft when not,” says Goldman.

“Woodstove design has also been updated in recent years, allowing for a wide array of designs ranging from traditional to ultra-contemporary.”

Goldman says that gas and electric fireplaces are now installed for aesthetics and mood as well as heating purposes. “Architects have embraced the long, sleek horizontal fireplace surrounds and are incorporating them into their contemporary interior designs.”

Equally exciting, he says, are two-sided fireplaces that are increasingly being used in home designs. “When you consider the visual impact and benefits of a two-sided fireplace, the extra expense associated with it seems relatively low.”

Goldman says that second and third fireplaces are being installed in existing homes — sometimes for the calming effect they evoke. Specifically, he refers to gas and electric fireplaces that can be mounted directly to the wall, which in many cases do not require venting. “Because of this, fireplaces are making appearances in kitchens, baths and other private rooms of the house.”

Goldman says that hearth-related innovations are not limited to home interiors. Outdoor fireplace kits using traditional masonry or pre-engineered masonry products range in design from simple to majestic. The gas-fueled fire pit has also been given a new stage with its integration into the design of patio furniture and other outdoor architectural features.

Many new forms of media, such as the simulated gemstones, have been developed for use in gas applications both in and outside the house. Other products include large river-worn stones and sophisticated metal sculptures.

To experience the true impact of these and other fireplace products, Goldman suggests visiting the showroom of your local hearth shop. The HPBA website also features a Hearth Gallery of images on its Consumer Information tab.

HPBA, based near Washington, D.C., is North America’s leading advocate for manufacturers, retailers, distributors and allied associates of fireplace, stove, heater, barbecue and outdoor living appliances. HPBA provides professional member services and industry support in government relations, events, market research, education, certifications, consumer education and industry promotion. Learn more at hpba.org.

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