When wintertime comes and the nights turn cold thoughts turn to the warmth and comfort of a well heated home. There is a reason that the phrase, gather round the fire, is so powerfully emotive. There is something about a fire that is comforting to the soul as well as warming to the body.
Even for homes that are equipped with good central heating, thorough insulation, and effective double glazing there is always room for a hearty fireplace. A fire can be used in different ways. Some people choose to use fires to only warm an individual room, making a secure and snug haven in the most used area if there is no real need to venture into the rest of the home.
Other times even when the rest of the house has the edge of the cold taken off it there is nothing more reassuring, comfortable and social than gathering close to the fire, gazing into the depths of the flickering flames or glowing coals, and enjoying a warming drink and the company of good friends and family. Or even just settling down to warm the toes with a decent read or late-night film alone other than the company of the crackling fire.
The instinctual draw of the fire is why pubs that feature stoves and fireplaces are so popular in winter and there always seems to be an ambience of good cheer around the fire with everyone jostling to get as close as is comfortable. It is a wonderful feeling to let go of the cares of the day and lose yourself in just watching a fire while your thoughts float by and an air of peace descends.
While older houses were restricted in the types of fires available, often the basic breastwork with recessed fireplace and a shared chimney, there is an incredible range available today. A quick browse of some of the specialist sites such as Rapyal Stores brings up a dizzying range of choices. Whatever the geometry or space available there is bound to be a fire somewhere out there that fits perfectly with the theme of your rooms.
Nowadays we have the choice of gas, electric, coal or wood burning stoves of many different types. There are free standing fires, wall mounted fires and recessed fires that tuck away and maximise the available room space. Modern fires can be surprisingly efficient with convected heat minimising any heat loss to the world outside. Totally enclosed, guarded or glassed-in fires provide the reassurance of safety for the whole family and what is better than sharing a fire with your children as well?
Now that the nights are drawing in it is a good time to review how homes are kept warm. In some respects, ordinary central heating can feel a little clinical and does not bring anything extra to the table other than a higher than external temperature. An actual fire provides a focal point, a decorative but also functional centre piece of the room and can bring not only physical but emotional comfort to a dark and frigid winter evening.