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Month October 2014 Archive

 Why Going Back In Time Will Make You A Better Architect

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There is a very long history of past architects whose designs live on today, but are the current world-leading architects living up to those of the past? Image Source: Far HorizonsWe live in a world where it’s an understatement to say that things move fast. We desire and have even come to expect instant efficiency, if not constant entertainment. With the sheer amount of technology waiting at our fingertips at any given moment, it’s not hard to understand why when it comes to creativity, the age of having absolutely everything can make inspiration a bit muddled.For those who love and aspire to contribute to the world of architecture, this is also a common theme. Between the pressure to create beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and still come up with something that’s functional in society, it’s hard to find a place to stand, let alone build.When you come to the place where your passion for architecture starts fading in place of technology and the pressure of global competition— it becomes important to step back for a minute and look to the past. Yes, looking back in time can make you a better architect and can help you rediscover your passion for design. Reminding yourself of what has been gives you a foundation for the future. It’s a necessary pause for every architect to remind themselves of what inspiration in the field truly looks like.This article will take you back in time, so to speak. So, take a break from all your designs for just a moment and reflect upon the real reason that you became an architect—your passion for great design.Do you admire the great architects of the past and reflect their work in your own designs? Image Source: E-ArchitectThe beauty of architecture, and those who create it, is that their work becomes an enduring part of the world everybody lives in. The essence of their creativity lives on in stone and design whether passerby’s realize it or not. It becomes a part of everybody’s scenery and looking back to the greats can be a vital step in remembering where genius really comes from and how it flourishes.Antoni Gaudi is perhaps the best example of extended creativity. As an architect, he wasn’t afraid to mix style in an attempt to revere traditional values. A devout catholic whom one might assume would stick to rigid structure, he instead willingly delved into structures that captured the best of Spanish Late Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau to celebrate the faith he loved.He also didn’t only design for the here and now. In fact, his cathedral titled Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and is so complex, it’s not expected to be finished until approximately 2026.  Take a moment to look back to the great architects of the past for inspiration—there is a reason people travel the world to catch a glimpse of their historic work.Works by Antoni Gaudi are truly forms of art. Image Source: Arch DailyFor some it may be enough to be a good architect, but those who have a true passion for this art will find themselves wondering what it takes to be phenomenal. Great architects leave a mark on the world through their design, and often those designs carry some sort of message.It is possible to put meaning into design in a technology-driven world, it just takes a patience and perseverance that requires dedication. In the world of architecture, this means designing with a message in mind. Before you sit down and begin to draw it out, ask yourself what you want it to convey. When you look back at those great architects of yesterday, can you clearly identify their messages?It may come down to actually writing out your message or design meaning before you even begin to measure lines. Having a concrete idea of what it is your are setting out to say will help your structure growing into a creation that speaks to those who lay eyes upon it. What is it that you are trying to tell the world through your designs?What do you suppose is the message that Gaudi is trying to convey in this amazing architecture that he created? Image Source: WikipediaArchitecture lends itself to aesthetic appeal. Half of the job is creating something beautiful enough to capture the attention of practically everyone. However, the fear and downfall in this is that while it’s possible to create something stunning, it can equally be created in a void of purpose. Is beauty the only purpose of your design, or is there a deeper message that you want top convey?For this reason, it’s important that architects train themselves to be above all, superior communicators. If you cannot look at what you are designing and fluidly state what’s its purpose in the world is, than you cannot expect anyone else to either.The ability to communicate purpose in architecture becomes more important as cities grow, competition in the field increases and pressure to design quickly and efficiently becomes the common demand. In moments where purpose is threatened, it’s imperative that an architect step back, examine what exactly he or she is doing, and be able to clearly articulate that purpose. Once this is established, something truly remarkable can be created.The purpose of architecture is as important as its aesthetic appeal. Image Source: Global Site PlansIf your heart is set on architecture, but you’re struggling to figure out your niche or creative path, never hesitate to ask yourself the important questions. Are you willing to tell your story to the world? Great architects are able to infuse their work with their own passion.What they feel and what they want to say is visible in their design and the purpose is clear. Going into architecture is a test of artistic communication and a willingness to dedicate the time it takes to create something that will eventually be considered timeless.Make sure you’ve asked yourself the right questions before you enter lightly into a world that can quickly decline into design chaos— one that is controlled by technology and instantaneous gratification.The Montezuma Castle in Arizona certainly tells a story of ancient civilizations and how they lived. Image Source: Arizona RuinsOnce you’ve taken the necessary steps to look back to the greats who have come before, examined their messages and determined your own architectural purpose, you’ll be ready to set off on an adventure that could lead you around the globe.Architecture is a unique and stunning field that can be full of inspiration, if only you know where to find it.What is your inspiration for design? Who are the greats that you admire?

 Contemporary Appearance Camouflaging Brooklyn Roots: Slate Street Townhouse

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Hiding its Brooklyn roots inside a contemporary appearance, the State Street Townhouse by architects and owners Christine and Ben Hansen is an intriguing mix of old and new. This family crib in New York, USA, inspires openness and light throughout, as well as a great connection to the outdoors. The backyard, complete with swings and barbecue area contributes to a healthy and relaxing lifestyle. Step inside and you will be greeted by charming interiors, filled with color and character.According to the architects, the custom kitchen, “complete with Flavor Paper wallpaper, feels traditionally modern while retaining a bit of Brooklyn grit. Upstairs, the couple and their three children share two bedrooms with a connecting Jack and Jill bathroom, creating a fun open plan to contain them for years to come. The bedroom level is filled with natural light from huge steel windows, and leads up to a scenic green roof that stores rainwater and nourishes the garden.” The design scheme for this Brooklyn home includes texture variety, original lighting units and surprising pops of color. Enjoy the virtual tour! [Photography by Francis Dzikowski]

 Refined Contemporary Design: Self-Supporting Spiral Staircases by Rizzi Studio

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In creating these cement spiral staircases, Rizzi Studio combines a sophisticated design with a perfect technical core. Each of the projects acts as a connection between storeys, enhancing the value of the settings and accommodating the requirements of contemporary living. The self-supporting staircase winds around itself according to the available space in a harmonious upward crescendo to become a fundamental element of interior design as well as a functional feature. Individual prefabricated modules are put together to form self-supporting staircases, with 11 standard diameters of between 125 cm and a maximum of 300 cm, to offer fully customizable projects according to the finishes of the intended surroundings.The logic behind the installation of Rizzi’s reinforced concrete spiral staircases drastically reduces installation times: individual unrefined steps are shipped and subsequently assembled directly on site. They include the tread, the riser and at either end the stringer which, when assembly has been completed, will form two spiral stringer boards notched to accommodate the reinforcement connecting the starting storey to the landing. The treads and risers can also be clad with wood, stainless steel, ceramic, marble and resin. [Photos and information provided via e-mail by Rizzi Studio] 

 IKEA Launches Wireless Furniture Collection to Eliminate Indoor Cable Mess

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Aiming to help users stay connected at all times, IKEA is to launch a wireless furniture collection with incorporated induction-charging stations. The new range consists of bedside tables, lamps and and desks, each item integrating subtle white charging pads. How does the system work exactly? According to the official press release, the wireless charging pads “use transmitter and receiver coils to generate a magnetic field which induces a voltage in the receiver coil. The voltage can then power a smartphone or recharge its battery simply by resting a phone on the Qi pad. Once placed on the pad, a notification pops up to alert the user the device is charging.”If you are worried that your phone will not be compatible with the new IKEA furniture range, don’t. The majority of smartphones currently being sold on the market come with inbuilt Qi wireless charging (the inductive charging standard). This makes it easy for any phone with this embedded technology to charge from any Qi charging surface. “Through research and home visits, we know that people hate cable mess“, said Jeanette Skjelmose, Ikea business area manager for lighting and wireless charging.”Our new innovative solutions, which integrate wireless charging into home furnishings, will make life at home simpler.” The wireless charging furniture range will be available on IKEA’s website from mid-April. 

 Smart Shelter in Spain Evoking A Breathable Lifestyle

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When time spent with family and friends becomes a priority, you also take into account the place you would like that to happen. This is where the smart refuge comes in. El Refugio Inteligente was imagined by NOEM as a functional space easily and automatically controlled from the owner’s mobile device. The blessed owners having been dreaming to build a small refuge in the ??Serra Espadà mountains of Spain. Working with Spanish studio NOEM ( the name comes from “No Emission”) opened their eyes to the possibility of enjoying an energy efficient leisure home where everyone they love is welcomed.Using prefabricated wooden modules to erect the refuge fast and efficient was key. Adding the swimming pool, barbecue and toilet extends the versatility and encourages a natural, conscious lifestyle. According to the architects, “Its S-SE orientation maximizes thermal comfort in winter and the abundance of sunscreens also ensures summer enjoyment. The architectural design stands out for its simplicity and for a metal frame which marks out the covered areas and provides the appropriate level of design. It is an area defined to cater for all the customs and habits of the occupants,with maximum accessibility and with openings which permit a privileged view.?”Photos by Meritxell Arjalaguer show the interiors and surroundings, both during and after construction. For a time lapse of the construction, check the video below. It would be amazing if you let us know what you think about this smart shelter or if you’ve seen anything better you’d like to share.El Refugi – Time Lapse – NOEM Go from NOEM on Vimeo…

 Yarn Factory Converted into Luxurious Home: Loft „Alte Wollgarnfabrik“ in Berlin

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Loft „Alte Wollgarnfabrik“ depicted in the photos below was designed and implemented by Berlin-based BERLINRODEO interior concepts. The project is a transformation of a yarn factory into a luxurious and elegant contemporary home. One of the aspects that make this project special is that it was especially created for the designers themselves (couple Axel Schaefer and Ingo Hoelters, who currently share living spaces with their dachshund Elliot). An original wallpaper with translucent effects is the main focal point in the generously-sized living area, an interior that sets the tone for an inviting apartment with plenty of inspiring details.The color palette in soothing tones of white, beige and brown makes for a harmonious ambiance throughout. We like how the designers kept some of the elements of the old yarn factory (take the brick walls for example) and gave them a refined final look. Crystal chandeliers, a selection of artworks and vivid flower arrangements add up to the joyful and welcoming character of the contemporary loft. Have a look at the images and tell us what you think! [Information provided via e-mail by BERLINRODEO interior concepts; Photos by Adrian Schulz]

 Timeless Copper Corner Residence Blending Traditional Detailing with Modern Simplicity

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On a heavily wooded corner lot in an established neighborhood of Mississauga, Ontario, sits Copper Corner Residence, a timeless home envisioned by David Small Designs. Dark painted wood emphasizes the bold roof-lines, while light-colored stone adds warmth to the façade. And the most outstanding feature, the leaded copper roof, creates character and architectural interest. The leaded copper not only adds aesthetic intrigue to the home, bringing out the charcoal colour of the stone, but plays a functional role as well. It is a highly durable material with an incredible lifespan. As the home ages, the leaded copper will change colour, developing a beautiful silver-gray patina that will deepen over time. This home is a prime example of traditional detailing mixed with modern simplicity.The traditional gabled roofline is executed in a minimalistic way (clean lines, no shutters or brackets). The result is transitional architecture; a design style that merges the warmth and comfort of traditional architecture with the modern ideals of minimalism and open concept living. The elements of the design – the mix of exterior materials (stone, wood, stucco, leaded copper), the rows of windows enveloping the copper corner, the warm colour palette, and the preservation of a significant mature tree stand – work together to perfectly integrate the home with its natural surroundings. [Information provided via e-mail by David Small Designs; Photography by Jason Hartog]

 Provocative Modern Earth Home in the Heart of Sardinia’s Emerald Coast

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Architect Luca Marastoni in collaboration with interior designer firm BONVECCHIO have completed House in Sardinia, a daring modern residential project. Situated on the first line of the Gulf of Portisco, in the heart of Sardinia Emerald coast, the residence stands out due to its concrete structures pierced by windows and green rooftops. An outdoor shell pool surrounded by a lovely teak deck, a jacuzzi and a private beach are reasons enough for the inhabitants of this “earth home” to come out of their luxurious crib.Step inside and you will be immersed in a soothing atmosphere: “The interiors are characterized by a strong contrast between concrete surfaces and the warm tones of wood. The furniture and the floor are completely customized, all realized in oak, treated in different shades, and solid too. The kitchen is defined by a long marble top with a dedicated breakfast area and walls covered by oak.” A custom-designed sofa in the living room invites guests to relax and enjoy the lovely bay views, while the dining area beckons for romantic meals. According to the designers, all the five en-suite bedrooms have tailored desks, beds and cabinets. [Photography by Alessandro Gadotti]

 wood flooring designs

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Emerald is a color that has consistently topped trend charts in recent times and its jewel-toned glamor is perfect for bedrooms with Hollywood Regency style. Malachite pattern and color is also a smart choice if you love that luxurious look in the bedroom while eclectic bedrooms drenched in green goodness steal the show with sheer audacity and flair.

 white girls bedroom

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Green in the girls’ bedroom coupled with pink works surprisingly well and it elegantly complements other colors such as brown and orange as well. Working with more than 3 or 4 bright colors in a room requires great care, perfect planning and a hint of ingenuity that lets each hue standout even while blending with the overall look. While it does sound like a risky proposition, get it right and you will have a playful kids’ room that is a visual treat.

 bathroom corner unit

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A vanity bench can always help if you spend a lot of time in the bathroom putting on makeup or doing your hair. Have a look at this incredibly elegant tufted bench from Alice Lane Home that could do the trick. A more compact option is a simple stool, like this gorgeously elegant selection (again from Home Bunch) that matches the style of this bathroom. This vanity from APD Architects actually has its own seated area, with a matching cushioned stool. Even a regular ottoman can work in a bathroom. This one featured on HGTV has a space against a wall right across from the vanity. This next very interesting bench featured on BHG stems out from the vanity beside it, where there’s a window. If the size and architecture of your bathroom make it work, then why not?

 sitting bull bean bags

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As we alluded to earlier, green and white is a smart combination that works well in a modern bedroom and balances energetic overtones with a serene backdrop. The amount of green you use here depends on the size of the room and the amount of natural light that floods into your bedroom. Smaller bedrooms with too much green might seem both overwhelming and visually cluttered.

 soothing room colors

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You’re pretty lucky if you have a large enough window in your bathroom that could use a seating area right beneath it. A bathroom reno featured on Beneath My Heart uses an upholstered loveseat bench with added accent pillows for the window area. How about a built-in? This vanity featured on Home Bunch has a bench area near the window, while this other example (also from Home Bunch) creates a window seat out of a bathroom storage unit. You could also try a bathroom storage unit on a much larger scale with a bench as well, like the third option below from BHG. Built-ins are great, but they’re not for everyone. You could try a simple wicker bench with an elegant cushion to place by your bathroom window, like the one below featured on House of Turquoise.

 Wave to Flush: Touchless Toilet Kit for Increased Bathroom Hygiene [Video]

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KOHLER Touchless Toilet Flush Kit is an accessible toilet upgrade for modern home owners in search of increased bathroom hygiene. The  DIY retrofit system allows users to simply hold their hand above the tank and operate water flow, instead of touching the regular handle. So how does it work? A no-touch sensor module installed within the tank projects an electromagnet field on top. When the field is interrupted via a simple wave of the hand, the flushing action is activated.
Brian Hedlund, marketing manager for Kohler’s toilet and bidet division, stated: “The Touchless flush is a great solution to this growing demand for increased hygiene in the bathroom. Homeowners are of course worried about the hygiene and health of their family members, and the toilet trip lever is an obvious area of hygienic concern. Touchless takes that concern out of the equation, utilizing new technology to provide a touchless way to control the flush“. According to Kohler’s estimates, the kit takes under 20 minutes to install and is compatible with all toilet models. You can order the kit online for $100 at Kohler’s website, though we also found it at Home Depot for $75. Check out the video at the end of the post for the official product presentation and tell us what you think!
The KOHLER Touchless Toilet Flush Kit

 cream beige color

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The examples of modular shelving systems in this article are carefully chosen with a focus on their utility, aesthetic and universality. Individuals purchasing any of these shelving options are likely to have made a conscientious and considered decision, assessing the possibilities for placement and their necessity. This writer postulates that the shelving systems featured below are designed with the intelligent user in mind. Such people typically value good design and think about its quality, usefulness, longevity, clarity and detail.

 You Won’t Believe How Cool Corona Kitchen’s 3D Ad Looks

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Creating a successful newspaper ad is no easy task. Since the majority of the print is in stark black and white, all of the content seems to blend together. It takes an extremely creative approach to get one product to stand out from all the rest. But Columbian creative director, Felipe Salazar, made it happen in this unusual ad for Corona Kitchen.
Rather than trying to draw consumers in with slogans and images, Salazar decided to play with the shape of the ad itself by creating an optical illusion. With just a glance, readers will see that something about this ad is outside of the ordinary. Diagonal lines skew the text amid the otherwise rigidly-columned page. However, it requires a closer look to really understand what’s going on.
Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that Salazar purposefully arranged the typography of the ad to create a 3D kitchen. The print clearly forms upper and lower cabinetry, a stove with accompanying cooking hood, and built-in dishwasher. Unsurprisingly, this clever concept was wildly successful. Corona Kitchen is currently enjoying the influx of business that Salazar had hoped for.
What do you think of this ad? Would it inspire you to go to Corona Kitchen for your remodeling needs? Or, is it just something fun to look at while reading your paper in the morning?

 Colourful Furniture By Anthony Hartley

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Launched to wide acclaim at Tent London, part of London Design Week, in September 2011, the furniture of Yorkshire-based designer Anthony Hartley is bright, fresh, engaging and dynamic. He produces each piece by hand, from the original drawings through to the finished products.
The two pieces shown here are part of the collection. Edna 1 is an oak cabinet with a single multicoloured laminated ply drawer, hand sprayed and lacquered to a high gloss finish, with shiny metal legs. The bright shiny colours create a very tactile appeal as the unit begs to be touched.
Edna 3 is a slightly larger version of the unit featuring three drawers rather than one. The duck egg blue cabinet is contrasted with incredible intense orange legs, and 3 multicoloured drawers in laminated ply. The hand sprayed high gloss and lacquer on the outside is reflected in the highly finished drawer interiors, making her as delicious inside as she is outside.
 How does this colourful design make you feel?

 How to Enjoy your Fireplace Safely this Holiday Season

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There’s nothing cozier. more relaxing or more romantic than a fire quietly roaring away in your fireplace.  As beautiful and  soothing as they are, fireplaces can be dangerous. One must always use caution when and be sensible when lighting a fire. Last year tragedy struck a nearby town when, on Christmas Eve, a fire destroyed an historic home in the midst of a massive renovation, and with it took the lives of three young children and two grandparents. A now childless mother and her partner were the sole survivors. According to the mother, the ashes were never properly disposed of that night as the little girls wanted to have a clear and fireplace for Santa Claus. The events of that night were indeed tragic, but we can all learn from those lessons.
Fireplace safety starts in the chimney, in the area behind the flue where not much can be seen from the naked eye. We strongly suggest you contact a reputable chimney sweep to have a thorough look at your chimney and fireplace. There are chimney sweep scammers out there, so do your homework and make sure the person you hire is a reputable one.The chimney sweep will start by inserting a special brush into the fireplace and up the chimney. This is done to remove any soot and debris on the bricks. After this the flue, damper, smoke chamber, smoke shelf and firebox are all cleaned. The entire process should not take more than an hour. Once that process is completed the chimney sweep will most likely carry out a smoke test by lighting a small fire in the fireplace. This will ensure that everything has been properly cleaned and that your fireplace is safe to use. It is advisable to keep records of all reports.
Never use flammable liquids to start a fire in your fireplace. It’s best to use starter logs and newspaper. Make sure you have a strong, secure grate upon which to place your logs. Be sure to use only seasoned hardwood as wood that has not been seasoned, or kiln dried, sizzles and fails to start a large, hot fire. Instead it creates excess smokes and promotes creosote build-up. Creosote is the tar-like substance produced from the burning of wood in your fireplace and chimney and produces soot and tarry smoke. The tarry remnants are extremely flammable.
Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace. Never leave your burning fireplace unattended. It is important to extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house, and imperative that you allow ashes to cool fully before you dispose them, and best to leave them in your fireplace until the following morning if you’ve enjoyed a fire the night before. The smoke from burning wood contains carbon monoxide, in order to prevent this toxic gas from entering your home leave the flue open overnight.
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. You may want to consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
If your fireplace has an adjustable damper, open it all the way. Begin by crumpling single sheets of newspaper or other tinder into grapefruit-size balls, or twist them into batons, and place one or two underneath the grate or in between the andirons on the floor of the firebox. Next, lay some kindling; Martha Stewart suggests 6 – 12 pieces in a crisscross pattern, over the newspaper. Leave spaces between the sticks for air circulation. Next, place a couple of thin, split logs on top of the tinder and kindling.
Keep in mind that air good circulation is essential to a successful fire.  Light the tinder with a long match or fireplace lighter. Once the fire has started and the small logs are burning, add two more small and then a larger one. As the warm air rises up the chimney and into the room, cool air is sucked up into the spaces between the logs, fanning the flames. It’s important not to over-feed the fire, which can smother the fire or cause it to blaze out of control.
According to Stewart “Tinder is the first thing to catch fire, so it should consist of a highly flammable material such as brown bags, twisted newspaper, applewood chips, dried hemlock and birch twigs, birch bark, and the feathery tips of dried pine branches. She advises us not to use use paper with colored inks, since it can leave a flammable residue in the chimney, yet most newspapers today are printed in color. Tinder ignites the kindling.” She adds that “dry corncobs, pinecones that are well-dried and free of sap, and fatwood (highly flammable, resin-laden sticks from coniferous trees) are also good fire starters.”
Firewood needs to be seasoned, or kiln-dried before it is to be used. Freshly cut wood is still full of water and will burn unevenly. It also produces excessive smoke and ash. An indication that your wood is fully dried and ready to use are the tiny radial cracks along the cross-sections of a split log.
The best woods to use are hardwood logs from broad-leafed deciduous trees. Hickory, oak, maple, ash, beech, and birch are great choices and birch is exceptional as it leaves no ash. If you’re looking for a fragrant wood, you might want to try cherry, pear, or pecan. Stay away from softwood logs from needle- and cone-bearing trees. They should only be used for tinder and kindling, since they burn very quickly.
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Even when a fireplace damper is closed, the sealing is often not very effective. Adding glass doors to the front of your fireplace can efficiently keep the cold air that comes down your chimney from entering your living area. Since one must wait for the fire to be completely out and the ashes to be cold before closing the damper, the glass doors are really a must. If the damper is closed too soon a smoldering fire still produces combustion gases which contain carbon monoxide.  And, while it may seem obvious, it is important to reinstate the fact that closing the damper should never be done until the fire is completely out.
Before one is ready to use one’s fireplace, it is essential to have the proper fireplace equipment.
We wish you all many warm and cozy fireside evenings this winter. Please be safe!

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