Vintage Fireplace / July 19, 2018 / Paislee Rowan.
Mantelpieces—the various assembled components that make up the ornamental front of a fireplace—could be seen as the fancy outer dress of the home heating apparatus—the wood, stone, or iron equivalents of mink coats and designer gowns. The mantelpiece (also called chimney piece) is often the single interior element that sets the tone of the house and announces its architectural provenance, its age, and the prosperity, tastes, or aspirations of its builders and owners. Mantelpieces command attention, and as any interior designer worth the price of ASID membership will tell you, a room with a mantelpiece is a room with a Focal Point.
But fireplace doors are not just for looks, door offer other advantages too. A door installed that blocks off your fireplace opening completely, for instance a glass door that fully seals your fire, will have the effect of trapping air inside the internal chamber. Trapped air inside the firebox will promote better combustion which results in a more efficient fire overall. The third benefit of installing a door is that it is a safer solution, completely preventing the possibility of the fire from spitting out sparks into the room, a door also keeps the soot and waste inside the chamber making it much easier to keep the fireplace cleaned and well-maintained.
If there is a positive side, there is also the negative side of propane fireplaces which do not stand up to the conventional wood burning fireplace. Propane is sourced from treasured fossil fuels, which are not renewable sources of energy. Since this is not renewable, it is controlled, which causes the price of the fireplace to fluctuate from time to time. Wood burning fireplace uses wood which is relatively renewable and cheap. Wood for heat will always be available as long as chopped trees are being replaced with new ones.
In the 1950s, builders of modern houses frequently made room in tiny postwar living rooms for a fireplace—whose presence was announced on the exterior by a looming chimney on the front wall of the house. And in all the decades since, reproduction fireplaces and mantelpieces have continued to draw builders and buyers as irresistibly as—oh, might as well say it—moths to a flame.