Modern Fireplace Design

Update your fireplace with new designs that are more attractive, efficient and versatile

Nothing can date a home quite like a fireplace, and as real estate markets bounce back, builders and homeowners are looking for updates. NH’s fireplace experts share the latest trends. 

Contemporary Design

If you have visited Surf restaurant in downtown Portsmouth, you may remember a linear fireplace that is long and narrow, with sleek glass and modern design. “As more homeowners visit restaurants with contemporary design, like Surf, they tend to want to bring that clean sleek design into their homes,” says Allen Coco from Fireside Living in Bedford. “In many cases, they are getting their inspiration from restaurants or modern buildings in Boston.”

Jim Tully of Woodman's Forge and Fireplace in East Wakefield agrees. “The linear fireplace is starting to catch on in New Hampshire. We were surprised. We thought it was too modern, but we put one in our store and sold five of them.” Adds Alison Jackson of Jackson Fireplace and Patio in Hampton Falls, “The contemporary style of long, skinny fireplaces are very popular with builders and homeowners. And everyone is doing TVs above the fireplace.”

Natural Gas vs. Wood Stoves

Natural gas direct-vent fireplaces, which are sealed units that heat, are also outpacing their wood counterparts, thanks to an increase in technology and design choices. “The gas fireplaces and gas inserts have trend-wise come further in aesthetics, and they have more options,” says Jackson. “Direct vent fireplaces now have a full function remote control that changes the blower and the flame from a hand-held remote. You can turn the pilot off so you aren’t spending a lot of money on gas through the year.” Adds Tully, “Gas is becoming more and more popular. Of course, the price of fuel is down so homeowners don’t mind.”

196 Rte 101., Bedford
(603) 488-5918

Alison Jackson
Jackson Fireplace and Patio
4 Depot Rd., Hampton Falls
(603) 929-5083

Jim Tully
Woodman's Forge and Fireplace
587 Pine River Pond Rd., East Wakefield
(603) 522-3028

If homeowners don’t have access to natural gas, then they are opting for more newer, more efficient wood stoves. “There are a lot of options, especially in the last five years,” says Jackson. “There are some new fun things with wood stoves: it used to be they were either super hot, or off and cold. Now they are so much more controllable and efficient, so they burn less wood. They have one coming out this year that has smart-burn technology that has a thermostat and a light on the bottom that comes on to tell you when to feed your stove with more wood.”

“The old, inexpensive factory wood stoves are going by the wayside,” says Tully. “People are looking for the high-end, efficient models.”

Another change for distributors is a new screen requirement. “Gas fireplaces and stoves after the first of the year will be required to have a screen barrier on them so little fingers can’t get burned by touching the glass. Manufacturers need to make things that are barrier compliant, but there is a one-year window for us to sell the existing inventory in the pipeline,” says Tully. This has turned out to be a good thing, says Jackson. “Initially, I thought that the screen barrier on stoves and fireplaces was going to have a negative effect on our sales, but much to my surprise people welcome the idea. Besides the safety, people appreciate the fact that in most cases it does benefit them for the resale value of their home.”

Stone Trends

Whether homeowners opt for gas or wood, they are still often using stone to surround it. “We are in a second home market here in the Lakes Region, so stone is still the most popular,” Tully says. “The ultimate goal is to make it look like an existing fireplace, but with the factory-built unit plus a mason, you can get the look of a $30,000 dollar fireplace for less than half of that.”

For high-end areas like Bedford, a big trend is using a leather or honed unpolished granite, says Coco. “Most of our business comes from people renovating their house. They are pulling out dated mantels, many of them marble or highly polished stone. We found a contractor in Merrimack to help us meet the demand for the look customers are asking for, and they are letting our customers come down to look at countertop remnants. The customer is able to save a substantial amount of money by basically buying scraps.”

According to Tully, outdoor fireplaces are a growing trend as well. “Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are becoming more and more popular.” Coco agrees. “Over the last couple months, I have had a large increase in outdoor gas fireplaces and gas fire pits. High-end builders are now including outdoor living rooms in the plans.”


Categories: Features