Alternatives to fireplaces: Our top 5 picks

bioethanol wall mounted fireplace in contemporary white kitchen
Bioethanol alternatives to fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular (Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

There are many alternatives to fireplaces out there but some are most certainly better than others. 

There are also several reasons why people hunt for these alternatives to fireplace ideas — the main ones being because they have no chimney, live in a smokeless zone or simply don't want the hassle that setting, maintaining and cleaning an open fire or wood burning stove can entail. 

We have been busy looking for the best fireplace alternatives around: from those that still provide a cosy heat source, to creative ideas for using a now redundant opening. These are our top five fireplace alternatives.

1. Opt for an easy electric fireplace

If you want a cosy focal point that still emits a good amount of heat, then an electric fireplace or stove may well be the best option for you. 

In addition to being cheap to buy, electric log burners are also easy to install on a DIY basis. In the majority of cases, all that is needed is to plug them into a regular electrical socket. 

Electric fires give off no fumes and don't need a chimney so whether you have an existing fire opening or simply want to create a point of interest on a bare wall; they are a brilliant option. 

In terms of the heat they give off, don't expect them to kick out as much as you would get from an open fire, a wood burning stove or a gas stove. They do, however, work as a good secondary heat source in a room and provide a warming glow. 

electric stove in white fire surround with wall-mounted tv

This electric stove from ACR Stoves is the E-Malvern and features realistic 3D holographic flame projection with four settings: high flame, medium flame, low flame and smouldering embers only, along with 1Kw, 2Kw and no-heat settings. It costs £615. (Image credit: ACR Stoves)

2. Consider a bioethanol fireplace

More and more people are turning to bioethanol fireplaces in place of open fires or wood burning stoves these days, drawn by their low maintenance requirements, the wide range of styles available and the fact you still get a living flame to gaze at on those frosty winter nights. 

Bioethanol fireplaces use, as the name suggests, bioethanol as a fuel. This is a liquid fuel made by fermenting the sugar and starch elements of waste plant products, such as sugar cane and maize. This is then distilled in order to purify it and enhance its alcohol content. 

This style of fireplace features a firebox (or combustion chamber, as it is sometimes known) into which the bioethanol is poured — there is often a heat output control on the firebox too. While on the subject of heat, don't expect the same kind of output as you would from an open fire or stove.

Other than that, the design of a bioethanol fireplace can take pretty much whatever form you fancy, from traditional-looking firebaskets containing false coals or logs, to hole-in-the-wall design inserts with ceramic pebble firebeds, wall-mounted models and even freestanding fires that look like works of art  — plus many can be controlled via a remote control or smart device. 

In terms of cost, they start from around £150, although some of the very design-led models can easily come in at closer to £800+. No chimney is required for a bioethanol fireplace.

bioethanol fireplace in contemporary living room

Decoflame Ascot Lux bioethanol fire from Go Modern Furniture is designed to sit in your existing fireplace and doesn't require ventilation or a working chimney — plus it is fully portable so can be moved wherever in the home you want it. It costs £1,280.  (Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

3. Enjoy real flames with a gas stove

Another fantastic alternative to a fireplace is a gas stove — a popular choice amongst those wondering, 'can you have a log burner without a chimney?

Gas stoves can be fitted into an existing fireplace opening or anywhere else you fancy, being available in wall-mounted designs or freestanding models, as well as more traditional styles. 

They are ideal if it is real flames you crave, won't require you a supply of logs or kindling and you won't need a chimney — plus they give off a good amount of heat.

Cost-wise, they can be picked up for as little as a few hundred pounds, although more stylish designs can creep up to over £1,000. 

For all their benefits, don't forget that you will require a good ventilation source in order to live safely with a gas stove and you must ask a Gas Safe registered engineer to install it, in order to comply with Building Regulations

gas stove in double sided fireplace at night

Gas stoves give off a good amount of heat and allow you to have real flames without the need to buy logs or kindling. The Wychwood Gas Stove from ACR Stoves costs £2,115. (Image credit: ACR Stoves)

4. Skip the fire altogether

Just because you have an existing fire opening, it doesn't mean you have to fill it with a heat source or a look-a-like fire — there are some really stylish and imaginative ways to treat redundant fire openings that are both useful and eye-catching. 

One of the most popular ways to fill an empty fireplace is to use neatly stacked logs for a cosy cabin look. Although this is an idea we love, if you want to avoid dusting the logs or finding spiders have decided your fireplace looks like somewhere they want to call home, there are alternatives.

You could create a similar look by boarding over the opening and affixing log-effect tiles or wallpaper. Or, how about fitting the opening with useful shelving for books or ornaments? Many people who still want flickering flames simply place a selection of candles of various heights here instead. 

empty fireplace stacked with logs

Stacked logs can look really effective in empty fireplaces — plus this can be a useful method of storing wood for use with another log burning appliance.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

5. Build a media wall

Media walls are hugely popular at present, packing in all of your media equipment in one place and designed to become a stylish focal point, as well as an incredibly useful addition in living rooms. 

Media walls are much more than a TV mounted on the wall — they can also house all the cabling for a television and any associated boxes and devices, as well as games consoles and handy shelving, drawers and cupboards — plus, you guessed it, this also makes the perfect spot for a heat source.

Electric fires make sense when it comes to media walls as they don't produce excessive heat that will rise up and affect equipment — many models are designed to be operated with no heat at all while still producing realistic flames. 

grey media wall with wall-mounted tv and electric fireplace

The PR-1200E Panoramic electric fireplace insert from ACR Stoves features 64 different flame effects along with two heat settings of 1Kw and 2Kw output. It can be controlled via remote or through you smart device and can also be operated without any heat. It costs £1,150.  (Image credit: ACR Stoves)
Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.