How to choose the right fireplace for your home extension

Why do we love a fireplace?

More and more of our clients are opting for a striking fireplace or hearth. Our post on inspiring design ideas  discusses the idea of Hygee. If you haven’t already read about the Danish idea of Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”), get reading. What freedom is to Americans, Hygge is to the Danes. The idea of Hygge is about finding joy in simple, cosy things. These things include: candles, blankets, fireplaces and so on. There is even a word for that favourite pair of jogging bottoms that you would only wear in the comfort of your own home – “Hyggebusker”. To us, a crackling fire is the epitome of cosy calm. Our busy lives can impact on our health, so planning spaces which invigorate and recharge us both mentally and physically is important.

With so many styles and fuel options to choose from, how do you know which to pick?

Firstly, the fireplace needs to be suitable for your property. Secondly, you need to decide upon its primary function – heat, aesthetics. Or do you need both of these needs to be met?


Wood burners and open-flame fires will, of course, require a chimney or flue. Wood burners are very efficient and are currently very fashionable. Obviously, real fires will require some level of maintenance (cleaning out etc.) but some even have built in boilers enabling you to heat your water and radiators too! Check with your local council before getting your heart set on a real fire. Some areas are smoke-controlled and burning wood and coal is not permitted.

You can find information on Newcastle Council’s smoke-control policy here. If you are in North Tyneside, have a look here, for Northumberland council, it’s here and for Geteshead, it’s here.

Modern fires are often gas-fuelled and you can find flueless options. Bioethanol fires have very low emissions and don’t require a chimney or flue, however, they can be exceptionally expensive to run! Bioethanol is considered one of the greener fuels. With so many realistic-looking electric options out there, they are a good option too. However, it is questionable whether an electric fire has the same relaxing, stress-busting effect as a real, burning fire. For a fuss-free real flame, a gas fire is your best bet, as an open-basket gas-burning fire with ceramic “coals” is virtually indistinguishable from a real coal-burning fire. It’s a relatively simple task to run a pipe to the fireplace opening. However, this will need to be installed by a CORGI-registered fitter.


It is important to love your fire when it is both active and inactive.  During the summer months, will it still be beautiful to look at when putting it on or lighting it would make your home hotter than hell? With more contemporary designs, we find that they can look a little odd when unlit. Think empty fish tank with some coals in the bottom.

Traditional fires tend to suit most spaces and Architectural salvage and reclamation yards may offer the best chance of finding something appropriate. We have found that traditional designs in light-coloured stones such as limestone and marble are very popular at the moment. If modern styles are more your thing, they offer flexibility of scale and proportion. Whether the fire is gas, gel or electric, contemporary surrounds use sleek and minimalist modern materials. Glass or polished steel and lots of other materials are easily available. A hole-in-the-wall design does away with the hearth completely, and often the surround, too. These fires are usually gas, and can consist of a burner providing a regimented row of flames, a firebowl, or a pile of driftwood or pebbles. Hole-in-the-wall designs are often more suitable if you have a smaller room, where floor space is limited.

The size of your fire surround is important – too large and it will overpower your room but too small and it will look insignificant and lost. If you are renovating or altering rather than building a new space, the size of the existing opening, chimney breast and flue will influence the size of fire and surround that will be suitable for the room. If possible, it may be worth considering structural alterations to get exactly what you want.

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If you are fitting a fire, getting your chimney swept and assessed is very important. When renovating an existing property and using the current chimney, you’ll need to ensure you choose a suitable fire. However, if you are extending or building a new-build home, you have a lot more flexibility. It is worth bearing in mind that a chimney must be at least 4.5 meters tall.

If there’s no flue in your home or design, or even no fireplace opening, there are still some electric and gel models that can create an interesting focal point in the room. There is a choice of flue-less gas fires available too, where the waste gases are taken out of the room via a pipe that is ducted through an outside wall.

Look at our recent projects in Newcastle and the surrounding areas for further inspiration! Get in touch with the Team @ Acre Design to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your home!

While you’re mulling over all of the fabulous fireplace options out there, here’s a nice warming fireplace video…

Extension Design: Lighting


Pendant lights add a lovely, stylish finish to a room. We often see them places elegantly over dining tables or kitchen islands in the extensions we design. There is good reason for this – they look great! Whether you decide to make a statement with your lighting or subtly complement your colour scheme, there is a pendant lighting style for everyone’s taste. If your budget is IKEA or a high end designer supplier such as Chaplins, there are some beautiful options available. However, it is important to ensure your proportions are correct. Our 3D modelling software makes it easy to understand the dimensions of your project (whether it’s a self-build, extension or loft conversion) and build your interior design scheme. Ask your architect about this if you are not confident about the size of your spaces.

Tynemouth-Extension-3D-and-floorplans-examples                                  Tynemouth Extension, Newcastle, Acre Design


Choosing a pendant light that is too big may overwhelm the space and a smaller option may end up looking lost.

Sizing up:

Width of pendant: If you add the length and width of your room together and then divide this number by 12, it will give you an ideal pendant width for your space. For example, if your room measures in at 3m by 5mm, added together this makes 8m. 8m divided by 12 = approximately 67cm wide. If you are thinking of opting for a multiple pendant light, you can simply divide this by the number of pendants you’d like. So, using our example, a three pendant piece should measure in at around 22cm per shade.

Height (or drop length) of your pendant light: Firstly, multiply the floor to ceiling height of your space by 3. For example, a room that is 3m high would equal 9m. Next, divide this measurement by 12 to give the ideal height of your pendant light. Our example would therefore need a drop of 75cm to suit the space.

How low can you go? Can you go down low?

Ensuring you have adequate clearance for your furniture and family, these rules are helpful:

Where people may walk underneath your light, allow 2.13m from the floor to the bottom of your pendant. If you’d like to place your pendant above a dining table or kitchen island for example, allow around 71cm to 91cm from the bottom of the fitting to the top of the surface. For a hallway, your pendant should be at least 15cm higher than the top of your front door, unless you have a very large amount of floor space of course.

Choosing the right style

There are so many different styles of pendant lighting, so it’s wise to begin by considering the function of your lights. Thinking about the type of illumination you want for the space will also depend on the other light sources in the room. A room with large windows or bi-fold doors will need less illumination for daytime use, however you may also require task lighting in certain areas and ambient lighting in others.

Types of lighting

There are four basic forms of lighting: task, ambient, accent and decorative.

Task lights are functional, helping you to see clearly whilst working (chopping, writing etc.) If your pendant lighting will help illuminate tasks such as children completing homework, reading or chopping food, you want a fixture that aims light downwards, preferably with an open bottom. Open bottom fixtures can create too harsh a light if paired with powerful bulbs, so bulb choice is also important. If the light proves too severe, you can always swap in a lower output bulb or install a dimmer to adapt to the use of the space and time of day.

General lighting which gently illuminates a whole space is called ambient lighting. A softer, ambient fitting will create a nice intimate mood for socialising.

If you want to highlight a design feature such as an art piece or an interesting building material, you could use accent lighting. Typically, accent lighting will be a picture light, however you can target your pendant lighting if you want to draw attention to the material of your worktop or table for example by having it closer to the surface or with a brighter bulb.

For simply adding a bit of sparkle and interest, decorative lighting is effective. These do not usually cast targeted light or serve any particular purpose other than to add to the feel or mood of the room.


We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things lighting and would love to discuss your project with you in detail.

Take a look at our recent projects for further inspiration! Get in touch to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your home!