Fireplace fashions have changed many times over the centuries, yet the influences from times past can clearly be seen in many modern designs.

Fireplaces tended to be open in Georgian times, with either a hob grate or fire basket to hold the fuel. Inglenook styles were huge − big enough to accommodate a chair on either side. The earliest surrounds were fashioned from either stone or brick; later, in larger properties, wood or even slate were used.

Early Victorians had a fondness for hob grates; however, from around 1850, register grates made from cast iron started to become popular. Inglenooks started to reduce in size at this time and surrounds were often tiled.

The Edwardians favoured cast iron grates; however, as time passed, art nouveau designs became the very height of fashion, although classical simple designs were also produced during this period, made from marble or slate. An original Edwardian fireplace can often be identified by its very large and highly-decorative oak surround, complete with the shelves, mirror and glazed tiles that were typically installed around it.

On into the 1920s and 30s and we see a trend towards fully-tiled fireplaces in shades of beige, brown and yellow. Tile fireplaces remained sought after in the 1950s and 60s; however, the colour palate changed to burgundy, sand and straw shades, with faux brick tiles also popular.

Today, fireplaces are enjoying a real renaissance and are seen as an attractive feature in any age of property. Many people opt to buy and restore an original fireplace; others install a striking modern installation to make a real design statement. ‘Hole in the wall’ styles are increasingly prevalent and are a simple way to add the charm of a fire to a space with minimal disruption. While contemporary in design, a fireplace of this type can accommodate most types of fire, from multi-fuel stoves to gas.

Wood is often chosen to surround fires in larger homes, with darker woods being highly regarded. Although fireplaces made of stone are associated with very old − and often large − properties, they are manufactured in a range of modern styles to suit any home and work surprisingly well in more minimalist settings.

Cast-iron fireplaces remain a design classic and are available in both traditional styles and in more modern finishes. A number of modern designers have also started to produce fire surrounds in stainless steel, which is perfect for contemporary living.