Some stylish faux-fireplace options to get you through a NYC winter

By Katharine Ulrich  | January 7, 2014 - 10:50AM

It's getting really, really cold out there, so today our attention turns to fireplaces.

First, a summary of the generally endangered state of woodburning fireplaces in NYC.

Fireplaces can add 10% to the value of a NYC apartment, but, as we've reported previously, they require vents and flues that lead outside and can therefore be costly and difficult to install (which is why they are more common in penthouses, where flues can more easily be run to the roof). Moreover, any apartment dwellers lucky enough to have a woodburning fireplace are banned from actually using them due to problems with drifting smoke inside the building.  (In some cases, where it's technically feasible, apartment owners can request approval from the board to cure the drifting smoke problem by relining the flue,  but this is a costly endeavor.)

So, what to do if you're pining for the cozy vibe of a fireplace? 

Sarah Toth, showroom manager of NYC Fireplaces, suggested stand-alone fireplaces, such as the ones those pictured above, that burn bio-ethanol fuel safe for indoor use. These don't require gas lines and are often called "anywhere fireplaces," because they can be placed, or mounted, anywhere in a room.

“If you’re looking for an actual flame, we suggest a bio-ethanol unit, which doesn’t require venting, looks great placed as an accent piece, and is more flexible,” she says.  

BrickUnderground checked in with three property managers who said they weren't aware of any restrictions by buildings against using bio-ethanol fireplaces. According to NYC Fireplaces, "bio ethanol units are allowed in New York City and they are safe. People should check with their landlords or board for approval just to make sure they are allowed in their particular building." 

Another option is creating a faux fireplace with a decorative mantelFind a statement-making or bold wallpaper to apply to the inside of the "fireplace," or simply paint a bold color pulled from elsewhere in the room, such as from a favorite throw pillow or piece of art, says interior designer Allison Lind of Allison Lind Interiors.  

Next, fill it with seasonally appropriate items of your choice--in winter months, a set of candles, like this example, is nice (mix-match silver, gold and glass in varying heights for some glam, or get a mixed set and paint them all one color to coordinate). Swap the 'sticks for flowers in spring/summer, or other decorative items, such as a shapely vase or a trio of differently sized vases in the same color/finish.

Related posts:

A fireplace in the city?  It's not impossible

When the temperature drops inside and out

It's 7 degrees outside. Inside your apartment, it's a sweat lodge.

A board's eye view of your renovation wish list

NYC Renovation Chronicles: Where to find inspiration that actually works in a NYC apartment

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