Keeping the Flame Alive

Twelve fireplace designs that'll reignite the passion in your mid-century modern home life
Keeping the Flame Alive
Spicing up your love affair with your home is only one reason to consider a new fireplace. Heating that home is another, but apparently not the most common one for consumers. Discover our latest choices for fireplaces with sleek, minimalist, modern design—including the Almeja model by TraforArt (above).
Keeping the Flame Alive
Fireorb designed by architect Doug Garofalo.
Keeping the Flame Alive
Zircon model from Malm Fireplaces. Photo: courtesy Wicker Paradise.
Keeping the Flame Alive
Terra model from Cocoon Fires.

You say the thrill is gone—the love for your home has faded like a candle on a blustery night.

Fear not, gentle reader. Tanja Kern, CA-Modern magazine's Home Improvement Editor, has just the thing to reignite the passion you felt in the past for your mid-century modern home.

In 'Friendly Fire,' Tanja's story in the fall 2016 issue of CA-Modern, she explores a dozen models of fireplaces to consider for your home that feature a variety of fuels and designs.

They range in cost from $227 at the low end to a high-end model with prices starting at $6,200, but all are sure to rekindle that passion in your homeowner heart.

"A lot of people are looking for a good design," said Andrew Markow, vice president and co-owner of Fireorb, which makes one of the most unique-looking fireplaces around. Made of shiny spun metal and suspended from the ceiling, it has the capacity to rotate 360 degrees and is described by Kern as "Jetsons-like." Markow said previous to its design by architect Doug Garofalo, modern homeowners were without options.

"They were looking for a modern fireplace, and they couldn't find it...We were way behind the Europeans in design," he said. "I think we offer a truly modern fireplace for modern space."

As Kern's story shows, now there are numerous fireplaces on the market with sleek, minimalist, modern design. One, the Aeris, is suspended from the ceiling like the Fireorb but burns denatured alcohol, also known as bioethanol.

As Markow told us about introducing the Green Orb model in 2010 in response to the new bans on wood-burning in many communities, "There was a demand for something else."

"While traditional fireplaces burn wood or natural gas, today's eco-conscious models warm a space by burning bioethanol," Kern notes in her story. "It creates a clean-burning, beautiful flame in fireplaces and clean emissions of heat, steam, and carbon dioxide."

About half the fireplaces in the story use bioethanol as fuel, including portable models such as the Terra made by Cocoon Fires and the economical Kirkwood by Cardiel.

As for other fuels, Santa Rosa-based Malm Fireplaces sells a variety of U.S.-built models burning either wood or natural gas.

"We offer many sizes and styles with 14 porcelain colors," said Sandy Shrum of Malm. "There is also the option of powder coat for our gas fireplaces, for those specific color needs."

Malm's Zircon model incidentally was the fireplace Eichler Network director Marty Arbunich recently chose for his rehabilitation of the Eichler X-100 in the San Mateo Highlands. "Very mid-century modern," Arbunich says of his Zircon in charcoal, "with enough futuristic experimental flare to complement the X-100 perfectly." 

Kern's story even includes a wall-mounted fireplace called Vellum, marketed by Plushpod.

Of course, spicing up your love affair with your home is only one reason to consider a new fireplace. Heating that home is another, but apparently not the most common one for consumers.

"They don't look for a heat source. They look for ambient fire," said Markow with nary a trace of doubt.

"Customers are looking for décor and the enjoyment of family and friends around the fireplace," agreed Shrum, "the warmth and coziness."

To review all 12 of Tanja's fireplace selections, click here to read a PDF version of 'Friendly Fire.'