INTERIORS Which fireplace or stove is right for you?

Cuddling up with a blanket

You wouldn’t snuggle up to just anyone, would you?

Interior Design
Niamh Tuohy

Let’s face it, whatever the season, it can be cold and wet here in Ireland. The Romans didn’t call the country Hibernia (‘Land of Winter’) for no reason.
We may have just had a sunny spell, but the week before the sun came, there was snow on Croagh Patrick and the ground was frozen solid. So forgive me if I hang onto my woollies and wellies for a wee bit longer and stock up on solid fuels, because honestly, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from my fireplace right now. No sir, not me. Gas, wood, oil, coal, turf, papier-mâché dolls. If it burns and gives off heat, then I’m there.
But how do you know if you’re making the right choice when it comes to choosing a fireplace or stove? Before deciding, ask yourself why you want it, where you plan to put it, and how often you are likely to use it.


Ask yourself what you’ll use it for mostly. Will it be the main source of heat in the house? Or will it be a supplementary heating system that needs to kick in only every now and again? Do you want it as an emergency back-up heating system? Or will it be purely decorative? The answer to  these questions will let you know what type of fireplace or stove you’ll need, and following on from that, what fuel you’ll use – wood pellets, solid fuels or gas – or whether electric will do.
Where in your house do you intend to locate the fireplace/stove? The answer will depend to a large degree on what type of fuel you intend to use. Gas, for example, will require proper ventilation and will therefore need a chimney flue or installation on an external wall. An electric fire, on the other hand, has no such requirements and can be installed pretty much wherever you like.

To what extent do you intend to use your heating system? Will it get daily use? And will this lead to constant maintenance and upkeep? If it’s only going to be used occasionally, then you need to think less about the manual attention it might need in order to clean it, prepare it and feed it and more perhaps about the aesthetics and style of the fireplace.

All in all, there are huge choices to be made and a wide variety of options available. Think of your fireplace or stove as you would your lover – a constant companion, always there to keep you warm at night – and you’ll realise why it’s worth taking the time to think about what will suit you best…