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The Evolving Fireplace

Jul 2, 2015 | Hearth

From traditional to modern, Hearth style has come a long way. Tom Just, owner and resident “Fire Expert” at Mountain Home Center shares his thoughts on what’s hot, what’s new and what’s built to last.

Long and Lean.

Just open any architecture or design magazine and you’ll notice that fireplaces have taken on an entirely fresh and welcome new look. The first notable changes are the linear lines, whether wide and long, or tall and slender, linear is in. You’ll also notice that these new models have substituted the faux logs for crushed glass or glass pebbles or noncombustible art sculptures complimenting the contemporary look. To soften the industrial feel of long linear fireplaces, designers and architects are often utilizing more organic surround materials, such as reclaimed natural wood, custom iron faces with forge details, real masonry rock work, or tiles with warm hues. This hybrid of clean contemporary lines with organic rich materials has taken on a name locally “Mountain Modern”.


Euro Chic.

Freestanding European gas and EPA wood stoves are also becoming popular with today’s Mountain Modern concept. Stylish, vertically oriented, and often adorned with soapstone or colorful tiles, these units hail from quality fireplace manufacturers in Germany, Norway, Italy and even South America. Fuel costs in most countries outside the US are higher, thus these units are very efficient and capable of good heat production.


Eco-friendly with exceptional style.

Two additional types of appliances are also finding there way into today’s modern home: electric fireplaces and BioEthanol appliances. The electric fireplace genre is one of the fastest growing in the fireplace industry. These units offer visually clean modern lines, movement of flame, additional mood lighting, and in many cases enough BTUs to heat a small room. They can be installed for a fraction of the cost of their gas or wood counterparts and, since no venting is needed, they can be installed anywhere!

BioEthanol appliances are rapidly finding their way into the modern architectural scene as well. These appliances require no venting. BioEthanol fuel is composed completely of biological products. The combustion of BioEthanol results in a clean emission: simply heat, steam, and carbon dioxide. But these units are not for heating purposes. Their dancing flames are for decorative purposes. The real beauty of BioEthanol burners is the design flexibility. It is common to see these as the centerpiece in a main living area with an open-burning fire pit design. Because these units are UL listed to standards other than fireplace standards, they are not considered fireplaces and can be successfully installed where Cal Green fireplace mandates are enforced.


Built to Last.

While the Mountain Modern look is taking a strong hold in magazines and in many of the high-end homes being built locally, the traditional proportioned fireplace is still king. A wide range of heating power, taller flames, faux logs (or not), and a variety of fireplace fronts are all features typically associated with our most popular traditional fireplaces. These units are very attractive and offer excellent efficiency. They are still the most popular option as homeowners, especially full timers, make remodel upgrades to their homes.


If you are looking for a great heat source with a modern, clean and linear look, you now have many more options.

Featured (top to bottom): Mendota Full View Modern Linear Gas Fireplace // HearthStone’s Bari Wood Stove // Heat & Glo’s SimpliFire Wall-Mount Electric Stove // Fireplace Xtrordinair 864TRV w/ Bronze Patina Artisan Face // Polywood Outdoor Furniture // EcoSmart XL900 Bio Ethanol Fireplaces & Stoves