There are so many options when it comes to picking the perfect fireplace or fire for your home - so much so that the choice can seem bewildering. Here we consider what factors you need to bear in mind when creating the right look and ambiance in your living space.

While many of us are driven by aesthetic considerations when shopping for a fire, there is no reason you can’t combine pure good looks with excellent usability and efficiency - provided you are prepared to do a modicum of research.

If you have central heating in your property, you are likely to be looking for a secondary heat source that can be utilised for a swift dash of extra warmth during the colder months or a fire that will work well in tandem with underfloor heating, for example.

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want an open fire or one with a glass frontage. While open fires undoubtedly inject a real sense of cosiness into any room, they are not very fuel efficient, require decent ventilation, and can be quite smoky.

A wood burner will provide an impressive flame coupled with a high level of heat efficiency; alternatively, if you are looking for the atmosphere that a flame adds to an environment but do not want the hassle involved with burning wood or other fuels, a gas fire could be a great fit for you. There are lots of models that offer highly-realistic coal or log fuel beds and the benefit of being able to control the flame and heat to your exact specifications, often via remote control.

Designs can fall anywhere between the starkly contemporary and the very traditional; in addition, they can be built in or freestanding, depending on your needs.

One obvious plus point of wood burning stoves and gas fires is that they do not need mains electricity to work. This means that should you experience a power cut, you will still be able to keep at least one room in your home nice and warm.

If you are working on a large-scale home renovation or new-build project, you should try to make your decision about heating as soon as possible. Certain options may require a chimney or even an inglenook; therefore, settling on a heating scheme early on will leave you with the widest range of options from which to choose.