|Even contemporary designs, such as this pier fireplace from Travis Industries, can work in a rustic setting.|
To turn your log house into a home, look no further than the hearth. Whether a wood-burning fireplace or a cast-iron stove, a hearth can instantly vamp up the style of a single room or an entire house — often with energy-efficient and budget-friendly effects.
When choosing a hearth for your log home, take several aspects into consideration: style (fireplace, stove, log insert), fuel (gas, wood, electric, pellets) and location. Installing a hearth in your living room can make it an instant design focal point, as well as a major source of heat for your home. But hearths also can be installed in less-traditional locations, like kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and offices.
Chris Maxson, president of Acucraft Fireplaces, is an advocate of wood-burning fireplaces. You only need to load the fireplace twice a day to heat your entire home, he says, and with a water loop you can capture the fireplace's heat to warm the water throughout your home. But, for Chris, there's more to a wood-burning hearth than just the carbon footprint. "The significance of the wood-burning hearth ties in to the idea of wanting to get away, to get back to nature and relax," he says. "Wood-burning hearths add ambience to the interior, just like the logs do to the exterior of a log home."
New trends also can impart an elegant, contemporary touch to a classic log home. You can construct your mantel out of nontraditional materials such as bamboo or driftwood, and you can place decorative logs inside the firebox to keep your hearth looking homey when it's not in use. A fireplace surrounded by three sides of glass, known as a pier or peninsula fireplace, can strike an aesthetic balance between dividing and opening up a room. And smaller wall-mounted fireplaces are perfect for the kitchen or bathroom. (Some even come with bread warmers!) Finally, one of the newest trends for rustic homes is the installation of a freestanding fireplace.
|Gas-burning outdoor fireplaces like the Sierra from The Outdoor GreatRoom Company make it possible to enjoy your outdoor room year-round.|
The Fire Outdoors
Despite the abundance of hearth products for inside the home, don't overlook opportunities for an open flame outside. Outdoor fireplaces can be permanently installed on a patio or deck or in an outdoor room (and they usually don't require a chimney). These hearths have become increasingly popular as the economy has plummeted, explains Deidra Darsa of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. "More and more people are spending their time at home and creating their own resorts in their backyards," she says.
How Efficient Is It?
By installing an electric or gas fireplace and switching to zone heating, you can cut down on the costs — financial and environmental — of a central-heating system. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, electric hearths are the most efficient (up to 99 percent), while vent-free gas hearths operate at 92 to 99 percent efficiency. Even wood-burning fireplaces are now EPA-certified (60 to 80 percent efficient), and pellets made of recycled sawdust or wood chips are another clean-burning option (ranging from 50 to 80 percent efficient) for energy-efficient log homes. For more information on fuels, click here.
Want more information on fireplaces? Complement your home with a historic mantel.