Once upon a time every new home would be built with fireplaces for cooking and heating, but the proportion of houses built without any fireplace or chimney has been steadily increasing since the advent of central heating and introduction of anti-pollution legislation in urban areas. Many people feel there is something missing from a living room without a fireplace, and need a practical and affordable way to fill the gap.

Purpose-built Flat-wall Fireplaces

Be Modern Stanton electric fireplace

The cheapest and easiest way to add a fireplace to a flat wall is to use a purpose-built freestanding fireplace. A typical flat-wall fireplace suite includes an electric fire and comes already assembled, simply needing to be secured to the wall for safety. For a perfect finish have the fire connected to a fused spur instead of using the three-pin plug provided. There are some very good quality flat-wall fireplaces on the market, but choice is limited.

Standard Fireplaces with Outset Fires

Flavel Renoir outset convector gas fire

Many fireplaces can be used on a flat wall with an outset or freestanding fire which stands on the hearth instead of being inserted into a chimney recess. Steer clear of traditional cast iron fire inserts, as these generally jut out backwards, and look instead for packages with a flat back panel, slip set or fascia. This approach opens up a huge range of choices of fireplace suite, and can work with flueless or balanced flue gas fires as well as electric.

Fireplace Surrounds with Deep Rebates

Be Modern Elsa limestone fireplace

The rebate of a fire surround is the difference in depth between the inside and outside of the mantel leg, which allows the surround to overlap the edges of the back panel on fitting. A surround with a deep rebate allows the back panel to be brought forward, creating a void between the back panel and wall. This void can be used to accommodate the body of an inset gas or electric fire which would normally sit in a chimney recess.

Choosing Fires for Flat-Wall Fireplaces

If you want to install a gas fire and fireplace on a flat wall seek advice from a qualified gas fitter first. Flueless and balanced flue gas fires are ideal for this kind of situation, but there are limits to what you can do -  your fireplace retailer can advise about whether fires and fireplaces are compatible with each other, but it takes a home visit by an engineer to confirm the suitability of a fireplace and fire for your room. Careful calculation is required to choose the right inset fire for a deep-rebate fireplace - the inset depth of the fire must be less than the rebate depth for it to fit.