Transforming Your Fireplace: Design Ideas for Different Fuel Types

choosing fireplace design for your home

The design of your fireplace will be largely determined by the fuel type you select. At Portland Fireplace and Chimney, one of the most common conversations we have with homeowners consulting with us on their new fireplace design is the built-in limitations that come with different fuel types.

It is easy to get inspired by Pinterest boards or interior design magazines, but there are built-in limitations for each fuel type that allow certain types of design and prohibit others.

In this article, we’ll explore various fireplace design ideas tailored to different fuel types, helping you create the fireplace and ambiance for your home.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces

wood fireplace installed by portland fireplace chimney

Wood-burning fireplaces offer a timeless and rustic charm that many homeowners find irresistible.

The crackling sound of burning logs and the warm glow of the flames create an inviting ambiance that’s perfect for cozy evenings at home.

When designing a wood-burning fireplace, masonry materials like brick, stone, and concrete are popular choices due to their excellent heat retention and distribution properties.

These materials absorb heat from the fire and slowly release it back into the room, providing a consistent and comfortable temperature long after the flames have died down.

Benefits of masonry as a heat collector and distributor

Masonry materials, such as brick, stone, and concrete, are excellent choices for wood-burning fireplaces due to their heat retention and distribution properties. These materials absorb the heat generated by the fire and slowly release it back into the room, creating a consistent and comfortable temperature long after the flames have died down:

  • Brick and stone are natural insulators that store heat efficiently
  • Concrete has high thermal mass, allowing it to absorb and release heat gradually
  • Masonry materials radiate heat evenly, preventing hot and cold spots in the room

Traditional design ideas for wood-burning fireplaces

Traditional wood-burning fireplaces often feature timeless materials such as brick, stone, and concrete. These materials not only provide a classic aesthetic but also offer excellent heat retention and distribution properties, ensuring a warm and inviting atmosphere in the room.

When installing a wood-burning fireplace, proper sizing is crucial for optimal performance and safety. According to the Underwriters Laboratory, a wood-burning fireplace requires the largest clearance to be combustible of any fireplace type. This means that to keep your home safe from errant flames and sparks, there needs to be a large enough gap between where the fire is made and any wood supports or nearby furniture.

This impacts the design of many smaller homes in Portland because the firebox should be proportionate to the room’s dimensions, and the chimney must be tall enough to create a sufficient draft. In a smaller room this may mean your potential fireplace will dominate the design, or the fireplace type is just the wrong one for the space.

If you have the room, a wood-burning fireplace brings a traditional atmosphere that is hard or impossible to replicate with other fireplace types.

Gas Fireplaces

gas fireplace installation in portland fireplace chimney

Gas fireplaces have become increasingly popular among homeowners in Portland and across the US due to their convenience, versatility, and modern appeal.

With clean lines, sleek finishes, and minimalistic designs, gas fireplaces seamlessly integrate into contemporary home decor.

The immense popularity is because of convenience and ease of use. With the flip of a switch or the press of a button, homeowners can enjoy a cozy fire without the hassle of chopping wood, getting a fire lit, or cleaning up ashes. The instant ignition and adjustable flame settings make gas fireplaces a practical and efficient choice for modern households.

These fireplaces offer a wide range of design possibilities, from traditional to ultra-modern, allowing homeowners to create a customized look that complements their personal style and living space.

Minimalistic and Contemporary Designs

Gas fireplaces offer a wide array of minimalistic and contemporary designs that seamlessly blend with modern home decor. Clean lines, sleek finishes, and innovative features characterize these fireplaces, creating a sophisticated and stylish focal point in any room.

Some popular minimalistic and contemporary gas fireplace designs include:

  • Linear fireplaces with long, narrow profiles that create a stunning horizontal accent
  • Frameless designs that showcase the beauty of the flames without any visual distractions
  • Built-in fireplaces that seamlessly integrate with the wall, creating a flush and streamlined appearance
  • Three-sided or peninsula fireplaces that offer a panoramic view of the flames from multiple angles
  • Suspended or floating fireplaces that create a striking and unique visual impact in the room

These minimalistic and contemporary gas fireplace designs offer homeowners the flexibility to customize their fireplace to suit their personal style and complement their home’s interior design.

Designing for smaller spaces and tighter clearances

Gas fireplaces are an excellent choice for smaller spaces and homes with tighter clearances. Gas requires a smaller clearance to be combustible than wood, which makes installing these fireplace inserts into smaller rooms safe. Their compact design and flexible installation options allow homeowners to enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a fireplace without compromising valuable floor space or requiring extensive renovations. We see gas fireplaces being used in many modern builds because of the smooth surfaces and precise edges that can be built into the design with tile, stacked stone, or metal.

Fireplace TypeBenefits for Small Spaces
Wall-mounted gas fireplacesSave floor space, create a modern aesthetic
Corner gas fireplacesUtilize often-unused corner space, provide a unique focal point
Ventless gas fireplacesRequire no chimney or external venting, offer flexibility in placement

Electric Fireplaces

electric fireplace near the bath tub

Electric fireplaces are the most versatile of any fuel option. Because they don’t require a chimney, they are an ideal choice for homeowners looking to add a touch of warmth and ambiance to any room.

With various installation options, such as wall-mounted, built-in, and free-standing units, electric fireplaces can be integrated into any space, regardless of its size or layout.

From sleek and modern to rustic and traditional, these fireplaces can be combined with a wide range of design styles, allowing homeowners to create a personalized and inviting atmosphere that reflects their unique tastes and preferences.

The Appeal of Built-in Electric Fireplaces

Built-in electric fireplaces can look polished, enhancing the overall aesthetic of a room. These fireplaces are designed to be recessed into the wall, creating a flush and integrated appearance. We see these most commonly in minimalistic or space-saving homes that like a subtle design. The sleek and unobtrusive design of built-in electric fireplaces allows them to blend effortlessly with the surrounding decor, making them an attractive choice for homeowners seeking a sophisticated and streamlined look.

Designing for any room or space

Electric fireplaces offer unparalleled flexibility in design and placement, allowing homeowners to incorporate a cozy and inviting fireplace into any room or space. With a variety of installation options, including wall-mounted, built-in, and free-standing units, electric fireplaces can be seamlessly integrated into any interior design style:

  • Wall-mounted electric fireplaces save valuable floor space and create a modern, sleek appearance
  • Built-in electric fireplaces offer a flush, streamlined look that complements minimalistic decor
  • Free-standing electric fireplaces provide versatility and can be easily moved from room to room

Whether you’re looking to add a touch of warmth to your living room, bedroom, or home office, electric fireplaces provide a practical and stylish solution that can be tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

Combining electric fireplaces with various design styles

Electric fireplaces offer a wide range of design possibilities, making them an ideal choice for various interior styles. From sleek and modern to rustic and traditional, these versatile fireplaces can be seamlessly integrated into any design aesthetic:

Design StyleElectric Fireplace Integration
Modern and ContemporaryLinear designs, frameless options, and built-in units create a sleek and minimalistic look
Traditional and ClassicMantel-style electric fireplaces with ornate details and realistic log sets provide a timeless charm
Rustic and FarmhouseElectric fireplaces with wood mantels, brick or stone surrounds, and vintage-inspired designs complement cozy, rural aesthetics
Industrial and Loft-styleWall-mounted electric fireplaces with exposed metal frames and minimalistic designs blend well with raw, urban interiors

By carefully selecting an electric fireplace that complements the existing design elements in a room, homeowners can create a cohesive and inviting space that reflects their personal style and taste.

Professional Consultation and Installation Benefits

portland fireplace chimney builder contractor repaired fireplace

Before finalizing your fireplace design, it’s crucial to consult with a professional who can guide you through the process and ensure that your vision becomes a reality.

A fireplace expert can help you determine the proper sizing and installation requirements for your chosen fuel type, taking into account factors such as room dimensions, ventilation, and local building codes. Failing to measure these accurately or building a fireplace of an incorrect design can be very unsafe.

By working with a professional, you can benefit from their expert advice on materials, styles, and fuel types that best suit your needs and preferences, ultimately creating a fireplace that is both safe and efficient.

Working with a Fireplace design expert

Portland Fireplace and Chimney, a premier chimney repair operation in Portland, Oregon, is dedicated to helping homeowners create the perfect fireplace for their homes. With a team trained in best practices for roofing, masonry, and chimney repair, they offer holistic solutions for leaking chimneys, broken masonry, and structural issues.

Whether you prefer the timeless charm of a wood-burning fireplace, the convenience of a gas fireplace, or the versatility of an electric fireplace, there are countless design options to suit your unique style and needs. By working with experienced professionals like those at Portland Fireplace and Chimney, you can ensure that your fireplace not only looks stunning but also functions safely and efficiently for years to come.

Ensuring proper sizing and installation for safety and efficiency

One of the biggest benefits of bringing in an expert is that they can ensure the proper sizing and installation of your fireplace. This is essential for both safety and efficiency. Professional consultation can help you determine the appropriate dimensions for your firebox, flue, and chimney, based on factors such as room size, fuel type, and local building codes. Proper installation by experienced technicians ensures that your fireplace functions optimally while minimizing the risk of potential hazards:

Installation AspectSafety ConsiderationsEfficiency Considerations
Firebox sizingPrevents overheating and fire hazardsEnsures optimal heat output and fuel consumption
Flue and chimney dimensionsProvides adequate ventilation and prevents smoke backdraftingPromotes efficient draft and minimizes heat loss
Clearances and insulationProtects surrounding materials from heat damageMaximizes heat transfer to the living space

Call Portland Fireplace and Chimney for help with your Fireplace Design

For homeowners in the Portland area seeking expert guidance, design assistance, and professional installation services, Portland Fireplace and Chimney is the go-to choice. With their team of skilled technicians, led by Louis Lee, a former President of the Oregon Chimney Sweeps Association and an instructor for the National Chimney Sweep Guild, you can trust that your fireplace project is in capable hands. Contact Portland Fireplace and Chimney today to schedule a design consultation and take the first step toward transforming your fireplace into the centerpiece of your home.

Call us today for your Fireplace Design Consultation

Portland Fireplace and Chimney invites homeowners in the Portland area to schedule a fireplace design consultation today. Their team of experienced professionals is ready to help you transform your fireplace into a stunning focal point that perfectly complements your home’s unique style and meets your specific needs.

During your consultation, a fireplace expert will:

  • Inspect your space and discuss your design preferences
  • Provide expert advice on materials, styles, and fuel types
  • Offer customized solutions that maximize both aesthetic appeal and functionality
  • Ensure proper sizing and installation for optimal safety and efficiency

Don’t wait any longer. Contact Portland Fireplace and Chimney today to schedule your personalized fireplace design consultation and take the first step towards transforming your living space into a warm, inviting, and beautifully designed haven.


What is the most efficient fireplace design?

Purely based on efficiency, ventless gas fireplaces are considered the most efficient. They are eco-friendly, can look like traditional fireplaces, and heat and recirculate the air to keep the room temperature high.

Do you need a fireplace insert for a wood-burning fireplace?

No, you don’t necessarily need a fireplace insert for a wood-burning fireplace. But the advantages over a traditional open fireplace include:

  • Burn Efficiency: Fireplace inserts are designed to be more efficient than open fireplaces. They can provide more heat output while using less wood, as they keep more heat within the firebox instead of sending it up the chimney.
  • Reduced drafts: Open fireplaces can be drafty and cold when not in use. Installing an insert can help reduce drafts and improve comfort in the room when the fire is not lit.
  • Improved appearance: Wood fireplace inserts can enhance the look of an existing fireplace. Many models come with attractive designs that can elevate the room’s aesthetics.
  • Convenience: Inserts are relatively easy to install as they slot into the existing fireplace opening. This allows you to revitalize an unused fireplace aesthetic quickly.
  • Emissions reduction: Many wood inserts are EPA-certified. These produce lower emissions and higher efficiency compared to open fireplaces.

How can I modernize a wood-burning fireplace?

There are a lot of ways to modernize a wood-burning fireplace. Some ideas are: installing a mantle, converting it to gas, remodeling the hearth itself, or adding a fireplace insert. The easiest way to know what may look good in your specific space is to call an expert like us to look at your space.

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