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There’s so much to think about when choosing a fireplace for your home. Would you prefer a gas burning, wood burning or electric fireplace? What type of mantel would best accent your home? What kind of accessories will you want for your fireplace?

Fireplaces not only keep us warm; they add a certain feel to the home. They remind us of sitting around a warm fire sharing good conversation with friends, cuddling up to loved ones, sipping a cup of hot chocolate or enjoying a romantic evening with that special someone.

Fireplaces should be the focal point of a room. What do you want to convey to your guests about your home and who you are? Is a Victorian style fireplace your style, or would a more modern electric fireplace be more fitting for your home? There are fireplaces made of stone, metal and brick. There are even two-way and three-way fireplaces found in upscale homes.

Gas burning fireplaces have become very popular over the past 10 years. They are convenient because they are easy to use and easy to clean. Wood burning fireplaces, on the other hand, give off that natural fire smell and crackling sound. Electric fireplaces are easily installed and don’t require a chimney or a venting system.

Then there are pellet fireplaces, which are a popular choice for those who want to protect the environment or eliminate extra allergens in the home. Pellets are made from wood chips and sawdust that are shredded and compressed under very high pressure. They are all-natural and have no additives. By using a pellet fireplace, you are actually protecting the environment because wood pellets do not increase the CO2 content in the atmosphere.

Pellets are also popular because they are convenient. Pellets come in bags, which take up a lot less space than piles of firewood. Some say it’s a lot cheaper to heat with pellets than with other sources of energy.

Direct vent gas fireplaces are catching on like wildfire among homeowners. The self-contained units have glass fronts, which are sealed when in use. The exhaust fumes are vented outside through a pipe that goes either through the roof or through a wall.

Some people say that direct vent fireplaces are healthier for homeowners than the vent-free type because they expel all of a fire’s combustion exhaust outside of the home, leaving the air cleaner.

Vent-free fireplaces don’t use chimneys at all, which means the heat stays in the home. This is very cost efficient; however, some states and insurance companies do not allow this type of fireplace in the home.

FIREPLACE ACCESSORIES:
From remote controls and wall-mounted controls for turning on and off the fire to fireplace inserts that change a wood burning fireplace into a gas one, there are all sorts of accessories to consider when buying a fireplace.

If you already have a wood burning fireplace and don’t want to replace it with a gas one, you can get the same convenience and efficiency as a gas-burning appliance by installing an air-tight sealed box called a gas insert.

Better yet, use gas logs to turn your masonry fireplace into a convenient gas appliance. Traverse City’s Source Julien owner Jim McCall, Jr., said that using gas logs in wood burning fireplaces is very popular now. The newest gas logs are very realistic with their glowing embers and golden flames.

Kett’s Hearth and Home third-generation owner Larry Kett said that gas logs, glass doors, gas inserts and Town & Country gas fireplaces are all popular items at his Grand Rapids store. He has seen a trend of people burning wood more in the past few years, but the bulk of his business is still in gas.

Accessories such as andirons that keep logs in place and bellows to puff air into the fire can be not only functional but also decorative. Helpful tools include fire pokers, brooms, tongs and shovels.

Then there are doors, fronts and screens for fireplaces. There are operable and fixed doors, bi-fold perception-style doors, cabinet gasketed air-control doors, arched cabinet doors and more.

Many varieties of decorative fronts for gas and electric fireplaces add elegance to the home. Screens are used to keep pieces of ash and sparks from flying out of the fireplace. They can also add some much needed character to an otherwise ordinary fireplace.

Mantels and surroundings can be made of just about anything - tile, granite, marble, slate, brick and more. There are even mantels made out of mirrors.

Accent your fireplace with lovely cabinets made of unfinished oak or maple, or with a honey, natural, maple, red cherry or white finish. Traditional-looking shelves around the fireplace are popular right now, according to one fireplace guru.

Create a beautiful focal point with a wall system in unfinished oak or oak with an auburn, honey or natural finish. Some wall systems have TV boxes with recessed doors to hold a TV, DVD player or VCR. Others have “bays” to use as a library.

CHIMINEAS:
Chimineas are a popular item for those who want to enjoy a nice, warm fire outside the home on a chilly evening. They are also commonly used solely for decorative purposes in the backyard or garden.

The most popular types of chimineas are made out of clay and cast iron, but they can also be found in aluminum and copper.

If you decide to buy a chiminea, you’ll need some accessories to go with it. There are covers and lids for protecting it from the elements, gloves, tools, stands, rocks, refinishing kits and of course firewood. Chimineas can be found on a number of web sites, in local lawn and garden stores and even in major discount stores.