Fireplace in UK: Victorian, 1920s, 1950s, 1970s, 1980s – removal and construction

Fireplaces in Homes: The Facts

At one point, fireplaces were an essential part of life and often the only way to provide warmth and heating in a home. Today, fireplaces are used less often as gas central heating is a more common choice, however, fireplaces are still present in many older homes.

The Victorian Fireplace:

How Does a Victorian Fireplace Work:

Fireplaces are designed to allow you to have a fire in your home efficiency and safety. They work by creating an open, non-combustible environment where a fire can be built, started, and maintained to provide heat to a home. They work in combination with a chimney, which provides a safe way for by-products from the fire to leave the home.

Victorian Fireplaces: History and Facts:

Today, Victorian fireplaces may be nothing but a feature that adds aesthetic appeal to the home, however, in the past they were essential for providing warmth. Most Victorian houses were heated by fireplaces that burned logs or coal in every room. Initially, they were made from slate or marble, but later, cast iron frames with colourful insets down either side and a decorative mantelshelf made from slate or pine became extremely popular. In the early Victorian era, floral patterns in the iron casting were popular but by the late Victorian times, people were opting for plainer designs characterised by simple lines. Cheaper homes typically had mantels made from slate or wood and were often painted to look like marble.

Victorian Open Fireplaces:

These days, some old Victorian properties still have their original fireplace. The antique wood and marble designs of these open fireplaces show just how talented the craftsmen of the time were. To radiate the heat out into the room, these open fireplaces often have heavy metal firebacks that were also commonly used for decoration.

Dating a Victorian Fireplace:

An easy way to determine the age of your Victorian fireplace is by finding out when your home was built. Most original Victorian fireplaces were built at the same time as the property. The features of the fireplace can also give you an idea of when it was first built. Earlier Victorian fireplaces tend to be more ornate with floral patterns and designs, while those from the later Victorian era will be simpler and make more use of straight lines.

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1920s Fireplace in UK Homes:

The turn of the 20th century brought about a period of new fireplace design. The neo-Gothic styles of the Victorian period were still very much in fashion, but the more modernist, powerful Art Nouveau movement design form was beginning to take over. Sinuous relief designs and tile sliders were added to fireplaces, with more demand for modernist designs. Art Deco design fireplaces became more prominent in the 1920s, with traditional middle classes looking to gentrify their homes with inglenook fireplaces and mock Tudor influences. Over-mantles were also more popular, and decorative details were sacrificed for function.

1950s Fireplaces: Construction and Design:

The 1950s marked a change for fireplaces, being the first decade where fireplaces could function as both a heating device and decorative addition to the property. With the introduction of central heating in the 1950s, fireplaces began to have a more decorative purpose and their standard use became obsolete. Stacked stone fireplaces became popular in the 1950s, with a facade of full- or half-portions of rock solidified together with masonry mortar, presenting a modern, new-age look. The stacked stone often extended up the entire length of the wall where the fireplace was situated.

1970s Fireplaces in UK Homes:

With central heating now rolled out to most homes in the UK, the fireplaces of the 1970s were no longer as necessary compared to in the past. Brick and stone designs characterised fireplaces during this decade, and fireplace surrounds were often made from brass or stainless steel. During this time, gas fireplaces grew in popularity, reducing the popularity of traditional open fires.

80’s Fireplace Facts:

From the 1980s onwards, homeowners began to look for more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly fireplace options for their homes. There was a growing demand for flame-effect gas fires and living flame fireplace options, which led to major improvements in the safety, usability, and efficiency of this home feature. The demand for gas fires grew until 1995 when the first electric fireplace that created the ambiance of an authentic wood-burning flame without any mess or pollution was introduced.

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How to Style a Boarded Up Fireplace in Your Home:

With the need for a fireplace becoming less and less common over the years, it is not unusual to see boarded-up fireplaces in today’s homes. Many of these fireplaces still retain their original features from the Victorian era or beyond, so homeowners enjoy keeping them as a feature in the home even if they are no longer used to provide heat and warmth. Many homeowners have come up with ways to turn the fireplace into a truly aesthetic feature by using vintage art decor to match the surround and placing it on the front of the boarded opening. Some homeowners create an entirely new decorative accessory from a boarded-up fireplace by painting the entire surround and the boarded-up area in the same colour, while others create the illusion of fire by placing an electric log-burning effect freestanding heater in front of the boarded area.

What to Do With a Bricked Up Fireplace:

A bricked-up fireplace is a common sight as the need for a fire to heat a home is no more. Some fireplaces have had the mantel and surround removed and the hole bricked up, allowing the owner to utilize the wall space by plastering, painting, and wallpapering over it. In other cases, bricked-up fireplaces may still have the surround and mantel intact, allowing you to create a decorative accessory from the fireplace using artwork, paint, or an electric heater designed to look like a traditional log-burning fire.

What to Do With a Hollow Fireplace:

Your fireplace might no longer serve its original purpose, but it is not totally useless. While you cannot light a roaring fire with an empty fireplace, you can use the space to get creative with a range of decorative and functional options to consider. A hollow fireplace can be re-tiled to create a decorative feature in the home or painted to match the rest of your home’s decor. Many homeowners use logs to fill the space in their non-functioning fireplace area to create the illusion of a useable fireplace, while others use a classic black screen to create a working fireplace look and add character to the room. Artistic displays using paintings or flowers are also a popular choice.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Fireplace Removed?

If you would rather have the fireplace in your home removed than try to make it fit in with your decor if you do not need to use it, it’s worth considering how much it will cost for removal. The cost will depend on whether you simply want to have the fireplace itself removed or whether you intend to remove the chimney breast as well. Typically, coal and wood fires will cost less to remove than gas or electric fires, which will need to be safely disconnected.

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Cost to Remove Fireplace – The Parts:

There are five main fireplace parts that you will need to have removed. These include:

Hearth: This is the base of the fireplace that protects the room floor from the heat and is traditionally made of brick or stone. They are not essential for electric or gas fires but are often installed for decorative purposes.

Fireplace insert, stove, and basket or grate: This involves the fire itself that is used to heat the room. Baskets, fire grates, and stoves may contain items to be ignited such as wood and coal. Inserts are typically powered by gas or electricity and slot into the fireplace.

Mantel and surround: These are the fixtures to the left, right, and above the fire. They are often made from cast iron, brick, wood, stone, or marble.

Flashing and framing: The framing holds the insert in place while flashing attaches the insert to the framing.

Chimney: This is designed for the safe release of gases to the environment. It is not necessary to remove your chimney when removing a fire, however, you will likely need to have the opening safely bricked up.

Benefits of Removing a Fireplace in the Middle of the Room:

There are several benefits of removing your fireplace if it is no longer needed. Firstly, fireplaces can take up space in your home that could be used for storage or furniture. An old fireplace could also stand in the way of the modernization of your home and depending on the era, bring down the sale value.

Is Reinstating a Fireplace Possible:

Absolutely! Even if you have removed the entire chimney, the fact that modern electric fireplaces today do not need a chimney to function safely means that you can easily choose to reinstate a fireplace in your home at any time after removal, either for heating or decorative purposes.

Fireplaces were once a key area of the home, but today, there are no longer necessary due to central heating. Older fireplaces are often used as decorative aspects in the home, while some homeowners choose to do away with them altogether.