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One of the most noticeable trends in recent years when it comes to living room decor has been the increase in the number of people hanging their TV over the fireplace in the spot traditionally occupied by a mirror or picture. The proliferation of flat screen TVs over the last couple of decades has meant that TVs are no longer the heavy, bulky, cumbersome boxes they used to be; today, they can be easily and safely hung on a wall rather than taking up valuable floor space, but is it actually a good idea to hang your TV over the fireplace? This article outlines some of the pros and cons of this popular practice.


For most people, the pro is that hanging their TV over the fireplace means it takes up no floor space. Another big plus point for many is that as the fireplace is already the focal point of the room - in most cases at least - it makes sense to place the TV in the same spot, as this is where the eyes are naturally draw to. Hanging the TV over the fireplace means it is easily visible from everywhere in the room and makes the layout of sofas and other seating more flexible. If the TV is situated in the corner of the room, for instance, it might not be comfortable to watch from certain other parts of the room.


Perhaps the biggest con is the most obvious - the heat from your fire. If your fireplace is a period one that is now purely ornamental and never actually used as a heat source, this clearly won't be a factor in your home. If you use your fire as an actual working heat source, however, you need to be aware that the heat can damage your expensive TV. It is not just the heat that comes out from the fire and into the room that you need to think about - if your chimney breast gets hot, this can also damage your TV when it is mounted directly onto the wall. Particularly if you have a real fire, your chimney will get very hot. If you want to hang your TV on the chimney breast, you will need to be sure it is properly insulated before doing so. Another disadvantage comes down more to a matter of taste. Do you really want the focal point of your living room to be your TV, or would you prefer people to only be drawn to the TV when it is actually being used?

Posted By Paul Smith

We are deep into the British winter and you have no doubt noticed if your current fire is not quite cutting it on the heating front. If you are thinking about installing a new fire, or perhaps adding a fireplace to a room that does not currently have one, this article will give you a brief overview of the mains types on the market and the pros and cons of each.

Gas fires

Everyone is familiar with the traditional gas fire - that often-unattractive box-like fixture on the wall that was everywhere in the 1970s and 80s. Times have changed, however, and today's stylish gas fires will enhance any home. Gas fires start at very reasonable prices and are easy to use and clean, and are energy efficient. They remain extremely popular with homeowners and are a great way to add a cosy ambiance to a room when you want to go some way towards recreating the look and feel of a real open fire.

Electric fires

These are very straightforward to use - all models can simply be plugged into an standard electrical socket for minimal fuss. Modern electric fires can be very attractive and are often a good budget option if money is an issue.

Wood burning stoves

Something of a halfway house between electric and gas fires and a traditional open fireplace, a wood burning stove is an increasingly popular option for homeowners. A stove will offer considerable heat if used correctly and will add a cosy, cottage-style feel to any home. While they are fairly simple to use, you will have to ensure you have a ready supply of suitable wood to hand and somewhere to store it ahead of use. They do need some cleaning and maintenance, but are generally cleaner than open fires.

Open fires

Whether you prefer logs or coal, there is nothing quite like an open fire in the depths of winter. They add instant heat, atmosphere and an attractive focal point to your room; however, they do come with some downsides. They can be messy & are inefficient and you may struggle to keep a decent sized fire going for any length of time if you lack experience. You will need to ensure you have your chimney professionally swept by a chimney sweep regularly, as failing to do so can cause problems and even chimney fires.

Posted By Paul Smith

Gas fire safety tips

21/03/2018 14:26

Millions of us use gas fires safely and without incident every day, especially at this time of year. Gas fires offer a reliable, economical and safe way to heat our homes and remain one of the most popular choices for homeowners; however, accidents can happen. It is therefore a good idea to follow these simple tips to keep your gas fire operating at the optimal level and minimise the risk of anything going wrong.

Have your gas fire checked regularly

Many companies offer an annual check as part of a standard package; if you are not sure whether your provider offers this service, simply ask them. If you are on certain benefits or are of pension age, you might even be entitled to a free annual check. If your company can’t help, it is quick and easy to call an independent Gas Safe registered engineer out to check your gas fire and any other gas appliances you have in your home. This will put your mind at rest and ensure your fire is working both correctly and efficiently.

Only use Gas Safe registered engineers

Always check the Gas Safe credentials of anyone you are thinking of hiring to install, remove, or do any other work on your gas appliances. There are different types of Gas Safety registration, so call the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 if you have any questions or any doubts about someone.

If you move into a new home, get the gas fire tested

There are so many things to think about when you move into a new home that it is easy to overlook issues that might seem less important. You should always have any gas fires checked when you move into a new property, even if they look new and appear to be functioning correctly. You should never assume a fire is safe simply because someone else has been using it.

Install a carbon monoxide detector

These are small, affordable alarms that look similar to a smoke detector. You should only buy a carbon monoxide detector from a reputable supplier - don't be tempted by cheap deals from suspicious sources. If the device detects unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, it will sound a loud alarm, alerting you to the situation. If this happens, you should leave the house and call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 immediately, for assistance. Often your local Fire Brigade or Fire & Rescue group cam help & give impartial advice

Posted By Paul Smith

You have probably noticed the huge increase in so-called hole in the wall fireplaces in recent years and might be wondering whether this is an option for your own home. There are a lot of benefits of hole in the wall fires, including that they are excellent space savers. They also provide a clean, modern finish, making them ideally suited to newer homes or any rooms in which you want a contemporary finish but still need the warmth and ambiance provided by a fire.

There is nothing quite like the look of a real fire to make a room feel warm, inviting and welcoming, and a hole in the wall fireplace is an excellent way to give any room a makeover without losing any precious floor space.

How is a hole in the wall fireplace installed?

Hole in the wall gas fires can easily be installed inside a regular chimney; usually, there is not much conversion work required. Depending on the model you opt for, some building work might be needed; however, this can usually be completed in a day or two. If your home has a traditional chimney, the old opening will generally be sealed and your builder will make a new opening further up. Once the fire is in place, the surrounding brickwork will be plastered to give a pleasing, neat finish.

Can I have a hole in the wall fire without a chimney?

If you are determined to install a hole in the wall fire but your home does not have a chimney breast, it is possible to build a false chimney breast to house the fire in. A builder will create a purpose-built cavity that will have the appearance of a regular chimney and will allow you to insert the hole in the wall fireplace of your choice. This can be a great way to add character and interest to an otherwise plain room. In most cases, the job will not take more than a few days and could completely transform the look and feel of your room.

The main disadvantage of this option is that the cost will be higher than for other fireplace options due to the extra time and work required. You will also lose some of your floor space due to the ‘chimney breast’ protruding into the room; however, you might decide this is a trade-off worth making to enhance your room with the fireplace of your dreams.

Posted By Paul Smith

After a relatively mild end to 2016 for many of us, all the signs are pointing to a colder winter season this year. If you are fortunate enough to have a wood burning stove in pride of place in your home, you are probably already using it and enjoying the warmth it provides. If you would like to make the most of your stove, however, and ensure it is heating your home as efficiently as possible, read on.

Keep your wood burner clean

It might not be the most enjoyable task, but cleaning your wood burner regularly is vital if you want it to continue to operate efficiently. You should keep your stove relatively clean and tidy at all times, and you should take time at least once a year to have a thorough clean out. Remove all the soot you can from the stove itself and from the flue pipe to keep your burner in tip-top condition. Layers of soot hinder the wood burner's ability to conduct heat and mean you are wasting fuel. Some types of wood tend to create more soot and mess than others - pine is a particularly ‘sooty’ wood when burnt, so you might need to do more cleaning if you use this.

Use enough logs

Do not be tempted to ‘chuck’ in a solitary large log and expect it to provide the same level of heat as several smaller logs. You should use at least two or three logs at any one time. A single log can't usually keep its own burning process going and will often die out fairly quickly. Logs burn in stages and you will notice that you receive differing amount of heat during each stage. If you are using multiple logs, you are creating more surface area and more turbulence, meaning the process of burning is likely to last longer.

Use the right wood

All woods are not created equally when it comes to providing heat. Different types of wood provide surprisingly different levels of warmth. Hardwoods give off more heat when burnt than softwoods when compared by volume; however, when measured by weight, both types will produce similar amounts of heat. As softwoods are usually less expensive to buy, it can be more economical to opt for these. They do burn more quickly, however, so are not always the best choice if you want a stable, long-lasting fire. Many homeowners opt to combine both soft and hard woods to balance out cost, with length of burning time.

Posted By Paul Smith

Summer may be over and the nights are drawing in, but this does not mean you have to pack your patio furniture away until next spring. There are a variety of ways in which you can heat your patio during the colder months, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space all year round.

What kind of patio heater is best?

Patio heaters have become increasingly popular in recent years and are a common sight in beer gardens or the outdoor seating areas of restaurants. If you take a trip to most major European cities in the depths of winter, you will notice freezing temperatures do not necessarily stop the locals and tourists enjoying an al fresco lunch. Powerful patio heaters and restaurant-provided blankets mean year-round people watching and fresh air.

Patio heaters are available in a wide variety of designs and sizes, so you will need to ensure you make the right choice for your space. A small patio will not require much heating; however, if you want to create enough warmth for a larger gathering, you might need more than one heater. Gas patio heaters are popular and are available in a wide variety of designs. You will be able to find more traditional styles along with contemporary designs that look great outside a modern home.

Outdoor wood burning stoves

If you love the look of a real fire, you will love wood burning stoves. Not only do they provide impressive amounts of heat but also they look great. While many gardens have chimeneas or small fire pits, these are not usually very effective ways of providing heat. You would need a larger product such as the Legend Garden Cube to give off the kind of heat you get from a wood burner. An outdoor wood burning stove works in the same way as a regular indoor one - you will even be able to adjust the heat output with most models. Even better, if you opt for a model that is designed to give off heat from every direction, your guests will be able to gather around the stove and you can provide far more heat than if you went for a model designed to be placed in a corner or in front of a wall.

If you love entertaining outdoors and do not want to stop just because the temperatures have dipped, an outdoor heating solution could help you to enjoy your garden well into the winter months.

Posted By Paul Smith

Whether you prefer the sleek minimalism of a couple of pictures, a simple bunch of flowers or an array of colourful mementos adorning your fireplace, the right accessories are just the thing to add a personal touch to your living room. Alternatively, do away with accessories altogether for a clean, uncluttered finish.

A single bunch of flowers

This is a great option for anyone who likes to keep things simple and dislikes clutter. Plain glass or crystal vases look great in any room and go with any decor, and you can mix or match your flowers according to the season or your mood. Choose a multi-coloured bouquet to add interest to a plain or white room, or opt for a single colour if you simply want to add a splash of colour. Tulips and carnations are affordable all year round and come in a variety of pretty pastels and brighter shades, while daffodils are readily available throughout springtime and are popular with everyone. For a warm autumn feel, choose miniature sunflowers, and opt for something in a vibrant red for the festive period.

Use your mantelpiece as a picture shelf

While many of us still hang our photos and pictures on the wall, the picture shelf has become increasingly popular in recent years. Unless you already have a mirror or picture hanging over your fireplace, the mantelpiece makes a great picture shelf. Choose matching frames to keep things neat, or go for mismatched styles and sizes to add interest, and show off your favourite family photos or art prints in the centre of your room.

Embrace with tea lights and fairy lights

Fairy lights and candles are not just for Christmas - create a warm, welcoming environment all year round by accessorising your mantelpiece with your favourite candles, tea light holders and fairy lights. Drape a short fairy light cable of clear lights across the mantelpiece for a pretty twinkle every evening of the year, and add your favourite statement scented candles or a selection of cute tea light holders.

Keep your mantelpiece clear and accessorise the wall

If you prefer to keep your mantelpiece free of accessories, keep things simple with a large mirror or framed picture hanging over the fireplace instead. This creates a pleasing focal point for the room. A large mirror has the added advantage of reflecting light back into the room and making the space feel larger.

Posted By Paul Smith

As the impact of both the environmental concerns surrounding fossil fuels and the ever-rising price of gas and oil hits, many of us are turning to a tried and tested way of heating our homes - wood.

Wood burning stoves, installed correctly and used properly, can sometimes be used to heat an entire property; however, this will - of course - depend on the size of the house or flat in question. Investing in a wood burning stove can reduce your heating bill and protect our planet, so what’s not to like? Moreover, there is nothing like the atmosphere created by a wood-burner - they really do make a house into a home.

Open-plan living

The optimum layout for efficient heating via a wood burning stove is one that has a fully open-plan ground floor. Position the stove centrally - ideally in the kitchen, dining room or living area - and the heat could permeate around the downstairs living area.

Square footage

To maximise the efficiency of a stove, it is essential to do some research to ensure that the size of the stove matches the space it is to heat - too small and the stove’s output will be inadequate, too large and you could find yourself overheating. Each stove model will be marked with the square footage for which it is recommended; however, for real peace of mind, consult an expert. The layout of your property may mean that you require a slightly smaller or bigger stove than you had anticipated.

Maximum efficiency

To ensure that your home is well heated during the colder months, you will need to understand how to get the best out of your new wood burning stove. This means ensuring that it is operating at maximum efficiency, which can only be achieved if the heat can circulate properly.

Top tips

Try to keep one to two inches of ash in place at the bottom of your stove, which helps to keep the fire burning at a steady rate. The cut and type of wood you opt to use are also critical. Hard woods are preferable when the temperature really dips; conversely, in the milder autumn months, you could opt for a softer wood. Using a variety of thicknesses and lengths of wood is also advisable, as this should allow you to pack your stove proficiently. Try to stock up on wood a year ahead of time, as this is the optimum period it needs to season.

Posted By Paul Smith

Whether you are replacing an old model or installing an entirely new fireplace, choosing a new gas fire for your home is an exciting prospect. The right fire can be the focal point of a room and can instantly lift your entire space. Whether you opt for a streamlined contemporary design to give your room a new lease of life or prefer something more traditional for a cosy, rustic look, this brief guide to the different types of gas fire available will help you to decide which type of fire is best for your space and your needs.

Radiant gas fires

These fires make use of ceramic plates to warm the room, radiating heat into the space. Ceramic has excellent heat retention properties and can remain warm for a long while after the fire has been switched off. In addition to heating the room by radiant heat, they convect heat into your home through a heat exchanger. In the past, these fires were often considered old-fashioned; however, there are many contemporary models available that better suit modern tastes.

Glass front gas fires

Extremely energy efficient, these work with conventional flue systems. They radiate heat straight into the room, forcing warmth out with minimal energy waste. Warm air is also provided via convection, with heat being passed through an exchanger.

Open front/outset gas fires

These look just like a real fire and are extremely efficient at heating your home. Providing radiant heat and some providing both radiant & convected heat, they are perfect for anyone who wants the look and feel of a traditional coal fire without the mess and inconvenience of the real thing.

Outset fires are either glass fronted or have the ceramic white radiant pots and feature a living flame effect that sits on the fireplace hearth rather than inside the chimney area. They work in a similar way to most other glass front fires. They give off a lot of radiant heat

Balanced flue gas fires

These are ideal for homeowners who want a gas fire but do not have a flue or chimney in place. Balanced flue fires are supplied with their own flue terminals and vent out through an external wall. They have glass fronts and are completely sealed. They produce both radiant and convected heat, and are extremely energy efficient.

Posted By Paul Smith

There is surely nothing more welcoming on a frosty night than the cheerful glow of a wood-burning or multi-fuel stove. Stoves tick all the boxes; for example, they are environmentally friendly and comparatively cheap to run. When you factor in just how practical they are and their stunning good looks, most people searching for heating solutions for their home will agree that they are onto a winner with a decent stove. As a bonus, there are a number of initiatives run by the government that are designed to help homeowners to install a stove as affordably as possible.

RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive)

This initiative covers multi-fuel models; therefore, if this is an option you are considering, it could be well worth your while finding out whether you can benefit. Once fully consulted, this scheme will roll out and replace the current Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) scheme. The RHPP allows landlords or homeowners who opt to change their heating source to one that is renewable to claim vouchers to help with the cost. This scheme is live across the UK, except for Northern Ireland, and it is possible to claim towards the cost of installing such items as biomass boilers and solar powered water heating in some cases. Although the homeowner or landlord will be required to meet a set of criteria before receiving their funds, the voucher will generally cover the cost of the new appliance; therefore, successful applicants need only find the extra cash to pay for the installation.

The Green Deal

The Green Deal is a rather more general initiative. Primarily aimed at making UK businesses and properties more efficient in terms of energy consumption, this scheme is a loan rather than a grant. Businesses or homeowners who undertake to switch to a greener heating system, install double glazing or insulate their loft space will qualify for a cashback payment. There are some guidelines that must be adhered to when applying to the Green Deal scheme, with businesses and homes visited and assessed before any works commence. The work must be completed by a Green Deal accredited installer, and those who qualify will pay for the improvements to their property via their electricity bills.

Before installing your new stove, it can be concluded that it is definitely a good idea to research all the government schemes available that may be able to help you with the costs.

Posted By Paul Smith
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