Outside The Box

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The widespread appeal of clean, modern design has revolutionized the options available in fireplaces. Manufacturers have answered the call by replacing the old gas log with a sleek, simple ribbon of fire. The technology of the modern gas fireplace has changed the shape of the flame from the short rectangle of the traditional hearth.

Often housed in a shorter, wider firebox, the simple ribbon of flame utilizes a long linear look to add movement and drama to a room.

“The fire ribbon creates a fire with a longer, sleeker look,” explains Doug Campbell, owner of Campbell Design Associates.

The simplicity of the technology and shape allows for a lot of customization, adds Chris Murphy, owner of Christopher Murphy Designs.

“In this world where everything is homogenized, people want something that’s their own. With this style, the sky is the limit,” says Murphy. “You are only really limited to what the mind can dream up.”

After seeing the new sleek, modern style of gas fireplaces all over design magazines, Campbell was drawn to a model from Spark Modern Fire for its look and the low maintenance it offers. In Campbell’s own townhouse, the living room is upstairs.

“I didn’t want to have to haul logs upstairs,” remarks Campbell.

Campbell chose a vented, stainless steel firebox and had a local fabricator create a stainless steel surround that Campbell designed.

High design doesn’t necessarily come with a high price tag, Campbell and Murphy agree.

“They appear to be similar (in cost),” says Campbell. “Maybe slightly more expensive because the sleek, clean styling takes more time and craftsmanship than traditional styles.”

“The cost depends on what you choose and whether it’s new construction or a remodel,” agrees Murphy. “But, they are fairly comparable to a traditional fire box.”

The impact and flexibility of the design of the modern firebox provides for a variety of uses. You can choose a larger scale fireplace to make a bold statement and be the focal point of your space, explains Murphy. Or, you can go with a smaller scale to make the fireplace a cohesive part of your design.

Murphy adds that with a range of customization options, the fireplace can be more than just a functional part of your home.

“(Your fireplace) can be a living, breathing piece of art,” offers Murphy. “Glass can add color and movement and it sparkles like diamonds. You can use various materials like mirrors or metals on the fire box back to give you depth and a reflective aspect.”

For even more flexibility, manufactures, like EcoSmart Fire, offer freestanding fireplaces without the need for pipes and plumbing installation. Models like the EcoSmart use an alcohol-based gas available at most hardware stores to power its flame.

“It provides a similar dancing flame but doesn’t require a gas connection,” says Campbell.

“This option works well in outdoor spaces as well,” adds Murphy.

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