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That Warm and Cozy Feeling

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With no end in sight for this current pandemic, people are still spending  more time at home and will continue to do so now that the colder temperatures are slowly starting to set in. Fireplaces are the ideal fixture to have during the winter months and hold a unique place in the home, and with the holidays around the corner, it’s a special time for families to gather around the fireplace  and create lasting memories.

Not surprisingly, there is a demand for fireplaces and the experts we spoke to say if you’re considering getting one, do not wait any longer.

 “If people are thinking about having a fire and creating memories by the fire during the holidays and having that warm and cozy feeling sitting playing games in front of the fire, now is the time,” says Jenna Guldin, vice president of sales, Salter’s Fireplace Patio and Grill. “Most of the people who wait until October or November to get a fireplace before Christmas or the end of the year, it’s going to be too late.”

But where to start? There are plenty of options such as woodburning,  direct vent and electric in many different styles. Rettinger Fireplace Systems creates an experience for the customer that is always focused on beginning with the end in mind.

 “We always ask questions,” says operator Dave Rettinger. “What do you want the fireplace to look like and how do you want it to operate? Do you want something that’s going to take the chill out of the air? Do you want something to run for an entire day or do you want something purely [for] ambiance?”

Salter’s Fireplace Patio and Grill does the same thing, sitting down with customers and asking about the problem they are trying to solve and their goal.

 “What’s the feeling they want when they are in front of their fireplace? Do they want heat? Do they host parties? What is the lifestyle of the home? We ask a lot of questions up front and they show us pictures of the home so we can see the wall color, the floor, the design elements to see what colors coordinate, what light is in the room, etc.,” Guldin says. Rettinger says it’s easier than ever to get the fireplace that suits your lifestyle thanks to the fireplace industry adapting to people’s wants and needs.

 “Every person has seen their dream home on Pinterest or Instagram or in a magazine and what the fireplace industry has done is made that dream-level design available at a variety of different price points,” he says. “The world is your oyster. You can choose shiplap, marble tile, a TV above the fireplace or maybe something small and compact. There are also options of choosing something ultramodern or a free-standing fireplace which is more of a piece of artwork. What the industry has done is created accessibility to have a real design focal point feature in your home.”

Rettinger says the fireplace industry has evolved to go well beyond a utility aspect.

 “They have improved the appearance and aesthetics, as well as the custom nature of finishes. The fireplace has shifted from a strictly utility appliance to more of a designer feature. In a lot of ways it’s become like artwork,” he says. “More and more people are putting the TV over the fireplace; that has also shifted us to more of the centerpiece of the room, [with] the gathering’s focal point being the fire and the TV. For bedroom use or living room use, it’s become a very desirable feature that sets the mood. Between the improvements of products  and versatility, that’s where the industry  has shifted. Originally  there was resistance  to that whereas now fireplace manufacturers have come up with  unique ways to have the two work together.”

Wood-burning fireplaces  are a great option for a young family or those who want to use it as an entertainment or gathering space, as well as for those who are looking to save on energy bills, Rettinger says.

 “It’s perfect to gather children around the wood-burning fireplace to roast marshmallows and have family time,” he says. “On the flip side, you have wood stoves and high-efficiency fireplaces for customers who don’t have access to natural gas or who want to reduce dependency on oil. Wood-burning is the best solution for those customers looking to cut down on energy bills and don’t mind work associated with owning and operating a wood stove.”

Guldin says many customers are coming into Salter’s showroom for wood-burning fireplaces and wood stoves because of their versatility.

“You can put gas logs into it for an aesthetic look and it’s a huge efficiency gas heater,” she says. “You can do a lot with wood fireplaces indoor or outdoor.”

Guldin says electric fireplaces are becoming more popular with designers because they can go anywhere you want since no vetting is needed, just electric.

 “You can put electric fireplaces in bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms. They look pretty  and realistic; some even come with crackling noises,” she says. “They come in traditional, linear, all different styles and sizes.”

 “Electric fireplaces give you the absolute most design liberty because they have no real heat clearances associated with them,” Rettinger adds. “You can design an electric fireplace in an enclosure and have a TV above in whatever manner you like.”

Both Guldin and Rettinger agree that direct vent fireplaces are the most popular for their convenience and aesthetic appeal.

 “People prefer direct vent. It’s sealed, you’re not getting any byproducts into the room and you’re getting the heat and ambiance,” Guldin says. “There are many  unique features, such as being able to touch the glass. There will be a beautiful flame and you can touch the glass and it’s sealed.”

 “It’s great for the busy homeowner,  for the entertainer and it’s also great for the person who wants to watch football and run the fireplace all day and not have to manage it,” Rettinger says. “It comes in many different shapes and sizes. The designer feature gas fireplaces have also improved in terms of flame appearance and aesthetics.”

Rettinger says another advantage to gas fireplaces is there is  little to no maintenance. “You flip the switch, set it and forget it. There’s no real manual work involved with having a gas fireplace,” he says. “There’s no need to store wood. You’re not hauling wood in and out of your house and making a mess.”

There are many styles to choose from as well, and Guldin says they can give each customer the desired look they want and suggests they come in with a vision  or at least look on Houzz or Pinterest to get some ideas.

“We can make the fireplaces L-shaped, single-sided, a peninsula which is three-sided, anything custom—we can pretty much make anything happen,” she says. “Whether it’s modern, traditional or rustic, if a customer shows us a picture from Pinterest and says this is what they want, we can make this picture happen for them.

 “What’s popular with gas fireplaces right now is black glass panels behind the fire. When looking at it, it’s reflecting the fire and makes it look much bigger and you don’t have to worry about  the background clashing with the facade. Also becoming more popular is greige—it’s a take on beige and gray mixed together. A standard brick in greige or any grayish color goes with a lot of homes.”

Milton Campos of Campos Masonry says natural material, such as brick, withstands heat more than most and it’s “always better to build a fireplace with natural material.”

Campos and his team also restore fireplaces. “We can make the existing material look like new,” he says. “It just needs to be power washed and the mortar joints between the bricks have to be replaced.”

Another area where more fireplaces  are popping up is in the outdoor space, which extends the living area into the outside and also extends the season. Guldin says Salter’s Fireplace has seen a big uptick in outdoor fireplaces and Rettinger says some kind of fire feature is incorporated in many outdoor home renovations.

 “You can have it built-in with a TV above your outdoor living room, or outdoor great room as we call it,” Rettinger says. “It’s also nice to include some sort of electric heater. Having  the combination of both a fireplace and outdoor heater extends  the usage of an outdoor living space by months.”

Campos Masonry
King of Prussia, Pa.
(484) 213-8240

Rettinger Fireplace Systems
Voorhees, N.J.
(856) 783-5501

Salter’s Fireplace Patio and Grill
Eagleville, Pa.
(610) 631-9372
Hatfield, Pa.
(215) 362-2443

Select imagery courtesy of Rettinger Fireplace Systems and Salter’s Fireplace Patio and Grill.

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 21, Issue 2 (September 2020). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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