On a chilly winter’s night, there is almost nothing as comforting as gathering round an open fire or stove with friends or family.

Our fondness for the focal point an open fire or stove offers is reflected in the fact that most new-builds come with one or more fireplaces.

Fireplaces have numerous benefits. They offer an obvious gathering point for the family to settle down for the evening, they provide both light and heat, and they look stunning.

Selecting the right design for your style and lifestyle will ensure that your fireplace makes a strong design statement. There is a bewildering array of different designs on the market; however, whatever your aesthetic tastes, you are sure to find a fireplace that will tick every box in your overall design scheme.

There are a number of factors to consider before you start to shop around for your dream fireplace. Will the fire be the room’s main heat source or more for decorative purposes? Do you want a low maintenance option or are you happy to deal with the cleaning and prepping that an open fire or stove requires? Answering these questions should help you to decide whether you want to opt for a gas/electric appliance or an open fire/stove.

Gas fires are a popular option, not least because they are affordable and are easier to install, as they do not require a chimney. They are also very low maintenance, offering a wonderfully radiant heat and a realistic flame without the upkeep that an open fire burning wood or coal inevitably requires; in addition, gas fires are available in a huge variety of styles and shapes.

If you opt for an electric fire, you can put it anywhere you choose within your home, with the caveat that it is near enough to a power source. Fires of this type tend to be on the small side, meaning that they are an ideal choice when space is at a premium

If you have your heart set on an open fire or stove, you will need to consider the construction of your existing fireplace. Brick fireplaces are ideal, as smoke does not discolour them. Stone is extremely hard wearing, as are slate and marble. Many original Victorian fireplaces are finished with colourful ceramic tiles, which provide a beautiful frame to a glowing, flickering fire.