Design 101: Light My Fire

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Design 101: Light My Fire

Choose from a variety of fireplace options to turn up the heat this fall

By Cynthia Soda

Being a summer baby, I soak up the hot sun for as long as I can get it. But once our days get shorter and the leaves change colour, it’s time to turn back on the pilot lights on your interior gas units, and warm up those cold hands and feet once again.


In our first home as newlyweds, my husband and I didn’t have a fireplace; so every year I’d long for a mantel to decorate for the holidays and yearn for the soothing sounds of a fire during dinner or movie nights. Let’s just say that the fireplace channel was a staple when we wanted to create that ambience on a beer budget. Now, even though we have a builder-grade gas fireplace insert, there are so many options out there that make this designer girl long for an upgrade yet again.


In past projects, we’ve used linear fireplaces, see-through and even double- and three-sided units with clear, black or amber crystals, river rocks, or driftwood log inserts–all depending on the style esthetic of the home. In condos where we wouldn’t be able to install a gas unit, but still wanted that cosy feeling, we installed Dimplex units, which use a seemingly magical combination of water vapour and lighting to give the lifelike illusion of flames and smoke, yet perfectly safe with no emissions and a cool flame. Of course, there are a variety of electric units that can essentially be plugged in anywhere, if space and budget are tight.


As a designer, we like to push the limits of what’s possible, getting our clients the biggest bang for their buck, all while abiding by building codes and ensuring the health and safety of our end users. Endlessly in search of the next big thing, we get excited about new technological advances being made in design staples like the fireplace. Units that can provide heat, but are cool to the touch, are safe for families with small children, and allow you to get the function you want without having to compromise on style. Valor radiant gas fireplaces use a unique hidden ducting system that draws heat up and recirculates the heat in the room, allowing the use of combustible materials (i.e., wood mantels or surrounds) closer than ever to the unit. This means that the walls around the fireplace are kept cooler so there’s less worry about surface materials and things like artwork, your TV or stuffed animals left by the fireplace of getting hot. This allows us designer-types to be creative with finishing materials and design. Not to mention the fact that these style units burn less gas and provide more heat leaving more in your pocket.

Fully functional without the use of electricity, the installation of a radiant gas fireplace would keep your family warm and safe, especially in the event of a power outage in the middle of winter. The plethora of design options existing today have me re-thinking the possibilities of the fireplace as an art feature, as well as a functional heating unit, and a place to warm up inside as it cools down outside.

Cynthia Soda is owner, principal interior designer of Soda Pop Design Inc., a multi-disciplinary interior design firm providing complete custom renovation and design services for residential and commercial clients throughout the GTA. Soda Pop Design Inc. focuses on merging the client’s lifestyle, personality and architecture to create customized, liveable luxury. sodapopdesign.ca Instagram: @csodapop, Twitter: @sodapopdesign


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