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Can't have a real fire, but 'realistic' electric fires - naff?

(21 Posts)
Lovecat Mon 08-Dec-14 13:27:29

Apologies in advance, it appears I cannot post without it being an essay...

We have a late Victorian house that used to be 2 flats, converted in the 60's. Downstairs was 'improved' in the early 80's, the other part was basically left untouched.

For whatever reason, when they 'improved' it, they not only ripped out the fireplace in the dining room, but they seem to have removed and then replaced the chimney breast with plasterboard - ie on the chimney breast, at shoulder level, where you'd expect to knock and hear brick, it's completely hollow. We only found this out when a picture we'd hung there fell down in the night with a humungous crash, as it was too heavy for the wall... we've been told that we'd need to knock the whole thing out and rebuild it if we wanted a real fire there.

This hollowness goes some 7 foot up (ceilings are 10 foot high). There was a hideous gas fire stapled to the skirting in front of the chimney breast, which we removed (it's quite a warm room).

We have opened the (normal) chimney breast in our lounge and have put in a repro period open fireplace which looks lovely. However, we are now in the process of rearranging the rooms and swapping them over - the lounge is long and narrow (10 x 29) and can be quite cold. Only two of our (oversized) easy chairs fit in there properly - this was fine to begin with but DD is now 9 and needs a place of her own to sit.

Our 3 piece suite (big sofa currently in storage) would fit nicely in the dining room (15 x 16) and it's a lovely warm room, so we've decided to have that as our living room and put the dining table at one end of the long ex-lounge and keep the piano and games consoles etc down the other end with a few beanbags or a small sofabed for when someone wants to watch a different channel/play games/escape the family!

Anyway, this means that our 'new' lounge has a bare chimney breast and DH is muttering that it doesn't look good and we need a focal point (beyond the tv!). Rather than rehook up the gas, as when we had it investigated and discovered the walls were rubbish, we were warned the flue would be a problem, he wants to get an electric fire 'suite' that looks like the real thing.

However, unless we spend £££££ that we don't have, they all seem a bit... well, naff?

I've attached a couple of pics so you can judge, wise MNers. The first one is the nicest version we can afford. The second one (that is all but identical to our neighbours who never got rid of their original) is the cost of a fortnight's holiday!

Or shall I just ignore DH altogether and have a blank chimney breast? wink grin

MizK Mon 08-Dec-14 13:32:07

Do you like them? That's what actually matters, not perceived naffness. Fwiw I have a real fire and as I can only be bothered to light it at weekends, it can look a bit dark and gloomy. A fire cheers up a room in winter so if you want an electric one, have it! I'm sure you don't care what people who will never visit your house think, really?

Lovecat Mon 08-Dec-14 13:40:33

This is true grin , I suppose I'm just thinking I'm going to be sitting there thinking 'this is naff' while DH is going to be sitting there beaming because he has a focal point.

I suppose my real question is can I live in a world where DH is right...? shock

SqueezyCheeseWeasel Mon 08-Dec-14 13:43:07


MsCoconut Mon 08-Dec-14 14:48:38

Would you rather save up for a nice holiday or a nice fireplace?

I'm going through similar choice making regarding fireplace design so I can sympathise.

youbethemummylion Mon 08-Dec-14 14:52:34

We have a Dimplex Opty-Mist electric fire it looks like a wood burning stove and has the most realistic flame effect. My husband had to put his hand in the 'fire' before he was convinced I wasn't real flames

burnishedsilver Tue 09-Dec-14 10:07:29

I'm not sure if I'm picking you up right but would a log burning stove, flued up through the hollow bit work? Alternatively, if its just plasterboard (which doesn't sound right to me tbh. What's supporting the chimney above?) then just remove it and make the room bigger.

MrsAlwaysRight Tue 09-Dec-14 14:39:52

We are planning on getting an electric log burner like this one. The flame effect is very effective.

MrsKipling16 Tue 09-Dec-14 14:45:55

I'm thinking along the same lines as burnishedsilver - if you're not keen on electric then why not look in to the options for a wood burner? They can be free standing, as well as go in the fireplace so it sounds like you may have more options than you first thought.

I am biased though - I had a wood burner installed this year and I love it smile. I can't believe how I've got through previous winters without one!

youbethemummylion Tue 09-Dec-14 15:52:34

How does a freestanding wood burner work? Surely it has to be attached to the chimney to get rid of the smoke?!

MrsKipling16 Tue 09-Dec-14 17:02:29

Free standing wood burners have a flue that goes straight outside (via a hole in the wall of course!). I'm probably not explaining it very well blush, but if you google "free standing wood burner" and then look at the images hopefully it will make more sense.

SqueezyCheeseWeasel Tue 09-Dec-14 17:04:09

Yes, burners that burn actual logs have to have a flue (a pipe up the chimney or venting outside) but the actual burner 'box' doesn't need to be recessed into a fireplace. They can be freestanding.

1st image is a trad recessed fireplace type. 2nd is a more contemporary freestanding style.

SqueezyCheeseWeasel Tue 09-Dec-14 17:05:34

Here's one showing the flue in the wall

MrsKipling16 Tue 09-Dec-14 17:06:09

Something like this?

MrsKipling16 Tue 09-Dec-14 17:09:02

squeezy beat me to it! Thanks smile

SqueezyCheeseWeasel Tue 09-Dec-14 17:10:13

The only issue with wood burners is that they are mucky / dusty if you are used to gas or electric fires. Oh and wood/logs is an expensive way to heat unless you have access to cheap logs of course and think about storage. Best / cheapest way to buy logs is in bulk but most of us don't have space to appropriately store loads of logs.

Greencheese Tue 09-Dec-14 22:22:31

mummylion I'm looking at the opty mist ones, as I don't think I can even have a free standing stove, are they noisy?

youbethemummylion Wed 10-Dec-14 05:42:11

Not overly noisy, when you are talking or have the TV on you don't notice it at all. If you visit a fire showroom that stocks them they will put it on for you so you can see what its like.

Lovecat Wed 10-Dec-14 11:18:04

Thanks for the suggestions, it has to be electric or nothing as there is no/a tiny not very safe flue - when we removed the fugly gas fire that was there, the corgi engineer said it had been a total bodge job and to put a flue in would require major rebuilding work, which we have neither the time nor the money to contemplate right now.

burnishedsilver that's exactly what we said, we don't understand how the bedroom upstairs is supported at all! Removing it is not an option, 1 because of cost and 2 because there is a lovely decorative cornice running around the ceiling, one of the few original features left when they vandalised converted it and to remove the chimney breast would destroy it.

Sorry to the woodburner fans out there, unless your house is a rustic cottage I personally think they look a bit silly (and ugly - sorry!) - certainly I'd never contemplate one in a late Victorian verging on the Edwardian room.

Thanks again for all the comments, it's helping to clarify what I definitely don't want! smile

shanghaismog Wed 10-Dec-14 21:38:19

What about a bioethanol fire? We're contemplating one for our new build, so got a little one to try it out in the meantime. It's fab! Totally real flame and does give off decent heat. Not like a real fire/woodburner but certainly at least as good as an electric fire. It's flueless, so no need for a chimney. The bioethanol can be pricy, so wouldn't want it to be your only source of heat but it's very effective for now and then cosiness factor. No cleaning is another plus point... Although if you run it out of fuel (about 4hrs for ours on full flame) you do have to wait for it to cool completely before refilling.

granny24 Tue 16-Dec-14 10:25:12

I became reactive to my lovely open fire and could no longer burn any type of fuel. Rather than have nothing I bought a silk flame inset for the fireplace. Not perfect but much better than black hole.

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