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Burning Desires: The Hearth of the Matter

Your hearth will become a focal point for your new cabin and will make it warm and welcoming. With our tips on the right placement, installation and fuel choice, your fireplace will help heat your home for less.
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Your hearth will become a focal point for your new cabin and will make it warm and welcoming. With our tips on the right placement, installation and fuel choice, your fireplace will help heat your home for less.

Dream Cabin Showcase


Taos Vista Your hearth will become a focal point for your new cabin and will make the room where you spend the most time warm and welcoming. With the right placement, installation and fuel choice, your fireplace or stove can help heat your home for less.

Such an important element of your cabin needs careful consideration during the design phase of your project.

Carry on the tradition. A fireplace with an open firebox may be the first vision of a hearth that comes to mind. The classic fireplace is beautiful, but if you'd prefer something a bit more energy-efficient, look for a sealed firebox with a gas log set, or install glass doors on your wood-burning fireplace.

Pot belly or Ben Franklin? Wood stoves have warmed cabins for centuries. New models, including freestanding fireplaces, burn natural gas, wood pellets, biomass or wood. Some even run on electricity. Manufacturers offer stoves in a rainbow of colors, too. Innovative venting systems can eliminate the need for a long stove pipe in today's models. Look for EPA certification on a new stove (which guarantees lower emissions) and be sure to follow the installation instructions.

Set the stage. The material that surrounds your hearth and forms the chimney makes a strong design statement and shields combustible materials from the heat of the fire. Will you choose stone, brick or adobe? Explore all your options. Cultured or manufactured stone can be less expensive and weigh less than traditional stone masonry. Architectural customs in your region can influence your selection. Is dry-stack ledgestone common for masonry in your area? Smooth river rock? Brick with a more Early American feel? Remember that your cabin's foundation must be able to support the finished weight of your hearth.

Spread the warmth. Fireplaces aren't just for great rooms. A small hearth could be a cozy touch for your cabin's master bedroom. An outdoor hearth can become a family-friendly gathering spot. The rise in popularity of wood-fired ovens means more people are planning kitchen hearths, too. Remember that multiple fireplaces may be able to share the same chimney.

Top it off. Searching for the perfect mantel can be fun and rewarding. This "icing on the cake" for your fireplace could be a naturally shaped log, a beam rescued from an old barn, or a timber carved with a special saying. The choice is yours, so go ahead and make your mark.



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