Montreal Gazette

The com­fort of a fire­place

- UR­SULA LEONOWICZ Lifestyle · Interior Design · Griffintown

Like vir­tu­ally every­one else, I’ve been iso­lated at home for a while now.

And one of the sur­pris­ing el­e­ments that has pro­vided the most re­lief dur­ing this time — for warmth (both in terms of am­bi­ence and ac­tual tem­per­a­ture), prac­ti­cal­ity (bread bak­ing, d’oh, or should I say dough), and even en­ter­tain­ment — is the wood-burn­ing fire­place.

(Side note: Not all wood-burn­ing fire­places are banned in Montreal. The reg­u­la­tion that went into ef­fect Oct. 1, 2018, bans the use of solid-fuel-burn­ing de­vices — such as wood, pel­lets and coal — with an emis­sion rate equal to or greater than 2.5 grams per hour.)

“There’s some­thing very emo­tional about hav­ing a beautiful fire­place in your liv­ing room, so it’s hard to say how much value it ac­tu­ally adds to a house. I be­lieve it’s 50 per cent of the value of the fire­place, but it’s a hard thing to at­tribute a num­ber to,” said Marc Quirion, the owner of Noréa Foyers l’attisée, when I asked.

“We’re a north­ern coun­try and peo­ple love their fire­places. They add warmth; win­ter is eas­ier when there’s a fire­place; it’s cosier; and they re­duce elec­tric­ity bills.”

Ac­cord­ing to Quirion, the cost of a fire­place starts around $5,000 and can go all the way up to $100,000, for a 20-foot-long, four-sided, cus­tom-made one.

“We in­stalled a sim­i­lar unit in a condo down­town, in Griffin­town. In that case, the client didn’t want it to pro­duce any heat; he wanted some­thing he could run 365 days a year,” Quirion said of that par­tic­u­lar Davinci gas cus­tom fire­place.

“We also in­stalled fire­places in some of the con­dos at the Tour des Cana­di­ens 3.” And if a fire­place can be in­stalled in a 700-square-foot condo, then “any­thing is pos­si­ble,” he said.

The first step in the in­stal­la­tion process is de­cid­ing what type of fire­place you want, and where you want it.

“We think that it’s im­por­tant, at the be­gin­ning, to start with the needs of our clients and ask ques­tions about their habits: Why do they want a fire­place? Where in the house do they like to spend time and re­lax? Do they spend a lot of time with fam­ily or re­ceive a lot? Where? Is it for a sec­ond house or a prin­ci­pal house? Do they like the smell of wood or do they pre­fer an easy-start fire (i.e. gas or elec­tric)?” said Es­ther Le­duc, an in­te­rior de­signer at Appareil Ar­chi­tec­ture.

“The fire­place is usu­ally the high­light of a room. You don’t want to put it in a cor­ner where no one can see it. You have to place it in a strate­gic place and think about how you’re go­ing to or­ga­nize the room around it. If it’s in a liv­ing room, is there enough place to sit around it? You also have to think about the pro­por­tions of the space you have, so the fire­place doesn’t look too small or too big. Most of the time, it’s a ques­tion of point of view and gen­eral com­po­si­tion.”

Marc Quirion adds that there are tech­ni­cal as­pects to con­sider as well. “To in­stall a gas fire­place or stove, all you need is some space to build up­wards, and exit through a flat out­side wall. There are re­stric­tions when you’re in­stalling one closer to a win­dow, or in­stalling a wood fire­place, or stove, be­cause with wood, the chim­ney needs to go up through the roof,” he ex­plained.

“Ide­ally, the chim­ney runs through a wardrobe or closet, or the cor­ner of a bed­room. We need to find the ideal lo­ca­tion to run the chim­ney through the house.”

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the ideal height of a fire­place is 16 to 18 inches above floor level, so that when you’re sit­ting, it’s slightly be­low eye level. As to whether or not you should mount your TV over that — which is the great de­bate — it’s a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence: the dou­ble-glass heat bar­rier on most new fire­places makes it pos­si­ble, along with pro­tec­tive man­tels and fire­place hoods.

A fire­place can be in­cluded in the de­sign of any room, although liv­ing rooms are a pop­u­lar choice. “We think that it’s good to break the stereo­type. Yes, it’s true that we’re used to see­ing the fire­place in the liv­ing room, but why not put it in the bed­room if that’s where you like to read be­fore go­ing to sleep,” Le­duc said.

“Maybe in the kitchen or din­ing room, if that’s where every­one likes to spend most of their time to­gether. It has to fit with the way

(The fire­place) has to fit with the way peo­ple use their space, and the way they live . ... (It) is the heart of a home.

peo­ple use their space, and the way they live. Wher­ever that is, a fire­place is the heart of a home.”

 ??  ??
 ?? FELIX MICHAUD PHO­TOS, COURTESY
OF APPAREIL AR­CHI­TEC­TURE ?? Wood-burn­ing fire­places like this one in a chalet are per­mit­ted off-is­land, but even in the city of Montreal they are al­lowed as long as they abide by the city’s strict emis­sion stan­dards.
FELIX MICHAUD PHO­TOS, COURTESY OF APPAREIL AR­CHI­TEC­TURE Wood-burn­ing fire­places like this one in a chalet are per­mit­ted off-is­land, but even in the city of Montreal they are al­lowed as long as they abide by the city’s strict emis­sion stan­dards.
 ??  ?? A three-sided fire­place adds am­bi­ence and a touch of moder­nity to this rus­tic, homey scene.
A three-sided fire­place adds am­bi­ence and a touch of moder­nity to this rus­tic, homey scene.
 ?? PHO­TOS COURTESY OF NORÉA FOYERS L’ATTISÉE ?? A ver­ti­cal tun­nel gas fire­place pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing fo­cal point and adds a con­tem­po­rary touch to this cosy cor­ner.
PHO­TOS COURTESY OF NORÉA FOYERS L’ATTISÉE A ver­ti­cal tun­nel gas fire­place pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing fo­cal point and adds a con­tem­po­rary touch to this cosy cor­ner.
 ??  ?? A colour­ful fea­ture wall with built-in three-sided gas fire­place serves as an eye-catch­ing decor fea­ture and serves to di­vide the liv­ing area from the kitchen.
A colour­ful fea­ture wall with built-in three-sided gas fire­place serves as an eye-catch­ing decor fea­ture and serves to di­vide the liv­ing area from the kitchen.

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