When the weather turns cold in the winter, nothing is so nice a a warm fireplace to set the mood for a romantic evening or cozy comfort when coming in from the cold in the afternoon. Gas log fireplaces offer the convenience of turning the flame on or off with ease, but a wood burning fireplace offers the traditional charm and smell of a traditional home heating source. Whichever you choose, it will serve as a supplemental heat source to lower your power bill. You should also be aware there is more architecture behind the scenes than the fire you enjoy so much.
Chimneys and Masonry
The chimney is not just a stack of bricks mortared together, but rather a carefully designed structural piece which requires a skilled contractor with a masonry specialty to build. The design has to allow the smoke to draft upwards and out of your home while keeping the heat inside but not allowing the weather in. There needs to be a functional damper to close off the flue when not in use. With a new house, everything has to be built according to modern code, an older house should have the entire system inspected before use to assure there is no damage, and everything is clean and clear in order to function properly.
Mantles and Focal Point Shelving
Although a mantle isn't necessary for the overall function of the fireplace, it's always a nice addition by completing the focal point of the room. Mantles can be elegant and graceful or functional and sturdy according to what best matches the rest of the room and your personal design preference.
The mantle can be accented with surrounding built in shelving and possibly cabinetry to provide storage and space to display personal items. Cabinetry provides organized storage for items you use occasionally or daily and shelving allows for display of items you like for decorative purposes. Like the mantle, cabinetry can be decorative or Spartan in nature, but should be designed, built and installed by a professional carpenter in order to assure it will meet your needs for years to come.