The beauty of fireplaces

Editor Mary Jane can’t do without her fireplace in winter


The recent cold snap caught me totally off guard. Thank goodness for my fireplace. Not only does a fire warm up the house, the flames add loads of atmosphere which you need on a freezing cold night. I’ve found that the secret to getting the fire going quickly is firelighters and a stack of kindling from the garden. If it’s too cold to venture out to collect kindling, I use the pages from out-of-date phone books as they don’t make your hands as dirty as newspaper, then I pile on the wood. I’d love to have a closed-combustion wood-burning stove but I’m happy with the existing fireplace at the moment. Here are some of the other fireplace ideas I’ve spotted and loved:

1. A fireplace like this one set in an alcove in a cottage in Dullstroom makes a wonderful focal point in a living room. Decor by Sandy de Bruin.

Fireplace as a focal point

2. For really good heat you can’t beat a wood-burning stove. Best of all they don’t take up much space.

wood-burning stove

3. As most of us use our patios in winter, including a fireplace is a really good idea. I like the fact that this one can be closed off with shutters when it’s not in use. Architecture by Joe van Rooyen.

Fireplace on a patio

4. This is the ultimate in luxury – a fireplace in the bathroom. Soaking in the tub in a gorgeously warm room is my idea of bliss. Bathroom by Bespoke Bathrooms, fireplace by Beauty Fires.

fireplace in the bathroom

5. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a spot for storing wood is essential. I really like the way logs have been ‘corralled’ between floor-to-ceiling steel cables in this living room.

Storage next to fireplace

6. If possible, make your fireplace do double duty. In this Cape Town apartment it warms the bedroom on one side and the living room on the other. Decor by Lesley Verhoef.

Double-duty fireplace

7. If you don’t have a chimney then a biofuel fireplace from Beauty Fires is the solution. They burn eco-friendly bioethanol and there is no residue and no cleaning required. They’re great if you live in an apartment or are renting.

biofuel fireplace

8. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then a small gas fireplace like this one is ideal. Raise it up off the ground so that you can see the flames. Decor by Suttie Marais Designs.

Fireplace in the kitchen